Tired of your usual holiday destinations? Been to Bangkok, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Tokyo just a few too many times? Why not head south for something fresh? Specifically, head to Australia … but not to the usual destinations of Sydney, Perth or Melbourne, get off the beaten track a little and visit Brisbane and the Gold Coast instead.
Why visit Brisbane?
Our herworldPLUS Street Style Awards 2016 winners Naomi Tham & Daniel Teo shot by our photography winner Hayden Chan in Brisbane
Basically the reasons are many and varied. Like much of Australia you can experience really diverse activities and natural attractions all within hours of each other. Brisbane, the capital of the state of Queensland, has actually been around since 1799 ‒ although as an official ‘city’ it was founded in 1924 ‒ so there are lots and lots of lovely old buildings to check out; perfect for your #ootd. Queensland, in general, is also known for its fabulous food. You can get hold of everything from super fresh fish and acai bowls, to ethnic cuisines that totally include Chinese food ‒ there’s even a Chinatown based right in the centre of the city.
On our recent trip to Brisbane for our herworldPLUS Street Style Awards 2016 photoshoot with our winners Daniel and Naomi, we stayed just down the road from the city centre in Fortitude Valley at the very, very super hip Hotel TRYP Brisbane. The coolest part about this hotel is not just its central location but the fact that is was actually created within the shell of an old building that had previously been home to a street art crew. The owners actually kept as many of the original, enormous paintings as they were, and also tracked down the painters themselves to add additional artwork throughout the hotel. The building started out as the clubhouse of the Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes, the Brisbane chapter of an international and mysterious secret society; you can still see its original logo and some of the internal stairs as well.
Hotel TRYP Brisbane. Image: Hayden Chan
There are a variety of different sorts of rooms to stay in, including ones with views of the original art, rooms with balconies and even rooms with their very own huge spa baths (perfect for a romantic getaway). The hotel doesn’t have room service but there is an extra cool cafe in the building, the Chur Burger restaurant as well as a great rooftop bar, UP on Constance which another great place for your #ootd.
Actually, the whole hotel and the area around it is great for #ootds and #fomo pics for your instagram account. Just around the corner from the hotel is Bakery Lane which is an old alley that’s been turned into a series of boutique design incubator studios and a mixture of retail businesses with restaurants, cafes, bars and cute shops.
Bakery Lane in Fortitude Valley, Brisbane, is just around the corner from Hotel TRYP Brisbane. Image: Naomi Tham
Another place worth checking out in the same area as the hotel is The Wickham Hotel, established in 1885 and is a combination of an old school Aussie pub at the front in a gorgeous renovated building with a very cool outdoor cafe out the back. The Garden Bar & Cafe was reclaimed from a carpark and now serves great bar and cafe food sourced from local suppliers and its own gardens! You can see all the herbs and veggies dotted around the outdoor eating space - and again, this is another great spot for Insta pics.
The Wickham Hotel's outdoor cafe. Image: Hayden Chan
Fabulous fish 'n' chips at the Wickham Cafe. Image: Ong Peiyu
Why visit the Gold Coast?
One of the reasons why it’s worth visiting Brisbane is its closeness to the Gold Coast and its hinterland. These days you can actually fly directly to the Gold Coast from Singapore on Scoot if you’re looking for a super reasonably priced flight to Australia. It’s about an hour’s drive from the Gold Coast airport to Brisbane but it’s a great opportunity to check out the Aussie landscape and experience the country close up. It also gives you a chance to spot a few attractions you can go visit during your trip. Even if you’re not a usual ‘low cost airline’ customer, at least with Scoot you can pay a bit more for what you want. There are extras like ScootBiz, a child-free cabin, in-flight wifi, ScootTV, warm cafe quality food, and Scoot-in-Style which includes a bunch of perks in a pre-flight lounge.
Anyway … Back to the Gold Coast. Obviously this area is known for its amazing beaches and whole permanent on-holiday vibe. Check out some of the images in our video below to see what it looks like from above; but there are also a bunch of other cool, nature-based or local culture-based activities to try.
Yep, this is the famous Burleigh Heads beach at the Gold Coast. Image: Hayden Chan
We were lucky enough to be in town for the regular Village Markets at Burleigh Heads on the Gold Coast where we snapped up lots of snacks, homemade icecream, handmade leather goods, cute dresses, vintage pieces and just hung around checking out the casual, local vibe. One thing we really noticed as Singaporeans is that at least half the people - including kids - weren’t wearing any shoes, despite the burning hot temperature! The other half were in flip-flops, and there was lots of bare skin on show too … People on the Gold Coast just jump into swimming pools and the ocean whenever they want apparently :)
The fun Village Markets at Burleigh Heads. Image: Hayden Chan
Fabulous, and healthy, food from the Village Markets at Burleigh Heads. Image: Naomi Tham
Once we’d exhausted the markets, we headed off to Burleigh Heads’ ‘town’ (basically a couple of strips of highrise apartments, old beach shacks, and shops - mostly cafes and surf shops - all focused on the amazing beach and the ocean) for lunch. After wandering around and umming and ahhing, we discovered Canteen Coffee & Kitchen which lines a cool narrow alleyway off one of the main streets. The focus of the food is influenced by traditional Middle Eastern flavours and produce and the space inside is so tiny that you can chat with your chefs - and they’ll photobomb your instagram pics if you’re not careful! But it’s all in great fun. Everything in the whole space is perfect for your Instagram feed, from the lighting to the old photos of the beach and surf clubs, to the stylish outdoor area that includes old movie theatre seating for your coffee break. Even the free water is insta-worthy - it’s provided from a spring that’s piped through a copper pipe into a huge stone trough.
The super chill and hip interior of the Canteen Kitchen. Image: Ong Peiyu
Naturally, after a huge lunch and a costume change (we WERE there for a photoshoot after all) we headed down to the actual Burleigh Heads beach. What can I say? Beautiful white sand, beautiful blue sky, beautiful aqua ocean … there are also shady treed areas for those of us who don’t want to get sunburnt and the breeze is just amazing. Basically just check out all the images and you’ll see what I mean.
Here's one last gratuitous beach shot to get you excited about a trip to Brisbane & the Gold Coast. Image: Hayden Chan
Unfortunately we were only there for a short time so we missed out on some of the other iconic Gold Coast activities like Seaworld, Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary for kids and a controlled experience up-close with Aussie animals, Lamington National Park for a real wilderness experience and Sanctuary Cove if you REALLY need to shop.
So, there are just some of the reasons why you need to think about heading to Brisbane and the Gold Coast for your next holiday … Why not do something fresh for a change?
WATCH OUR VIDEO TO FEEL THE BRISBANE & THE GOLD COAST VIBE
herworldPLUS travelled to Brisbane and the Gold Coast courtesy of Scoot which flies to the Gold Coast from Singapore four times a week; and Hotel TRYP Brisbane as part of the herworldPLUS Street Style Awards. If you’re planning a visit to Brisbane soon, check out the hotel’s street art festival happening in late February; for more info go to bsafest.com.au or www.facebook.com/BrisbaneStreetArt. Stay tuned for more information about how you too can enter our Street Style Awards for 2017.
Want some more travel inspiration? Read our stories 5 gorgeous destinations for the ultimate Valentine's Day getaway; 6 countries that Singaporeans don't need to apply for a visa to visit (including North Korea!) and This is the most-wanted travel destination for Singaporeans in 2017