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Last Updated: Thursday, 25 September, 2003, 15:07 GMT 16:07 UK
City guide: Brisbane
It is hard to believe that Brisbane was once seen by its southern cousins as an overblown country bumpkin town.

The Brisbane skyline
Population: 1.6m
Location: East coast
Climate: Sub-tropical with hot humid summers and mild dry winters
Geography: Built on Brisbane River, surrounded by hills and look-outs
Interesting fact: Some locals know it as 'Bris Vegas' because of its nightlife

Brisbane might not have the hustle and bustle of Sydney or Melbourne, but Queensland's capital is still a vibrant cosmopolitan place.

Situated on the Brisbane River, the city is Australia's third largest and a sporting hotbed.

Demand for tickets ahead of the Rugby World Cup saw the games scheduled for Ballymore, home of the Queensland Reds, moved to the larger Suncorp Stadium.

As well as rugby, the city has hosted frequent Test matches and major events such as the 1982 Commonwealth Games and the Goodwill Games two years ago.

Modern-day Brisbane is a far cry from its origins as a dumping ground for the worst convicts from the New South Wales colony.

Australia's indigenous population inhabited the Brisbane region 40,000 years before a European settlement was developed, and many of the city's place names maintain those Aboriginal links.

After John Oxley led the first European exploration into the region in 1823, a convict penal settlement, notorious for its harsh treatment of prisoners, was established in the area.

Free settlers finally pushed for the end of the convict settlement in 1837.

And then Brisbane really took off with the gold rush providing the catalyst for growth which led to Queensland becoming a state 20 years later, with Brisbane as the capital.

Many of the structures built by early prisoners from English, Scottish and Irish backgrounds still stand across the city as reminders of Brisbane's convict past.

These days though, a relaxed atmosphere pervades the city.

With the Sunshine Coast and the Gold Coast just an hour's drive away in each direction, it is not surprising.

Dubbed "Australia's most liveable city", Brisbane has everything a major city should offer in shopping, theatres and culture.

There is plenty of lush scenery to visit during the day and after dark, the city boasts an impressive nightlife, which has led some to dub it 'Bris Vegas'.

Links to more Venues Guide stories



Best boozerBest boozer
Ric's Cafe-Bar, Brunswick St

Best meat restaurantBest meat restaurant
Cha Cha Bar, Eagle Street Pier
Gambler's denGambler's den
JCail's Casino, Level 31, Waterfront Road

Queen Street Mall

Best veggie tuckerBest veggie tucker
Govinda's, 1st floor, 99 Elizabeth Street
Queensland Culture Centre



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