Brisbane is one of those cities that seems always to be changing, without ever losing its essential heart and character. It’s that most Australian of citiesbig-hearted, blue-skied, and with a down-to-earth attitude that soon rubs off on you. Brisbane will most likely be your first port of call in Queensland, and you can even reach the southernmost part of the Great Barrier Reef on a day trip from here.

Brisbane (pronounced Briz-bun), Brizzieto locals, functions on a very human scale. It’s a place where you can cuddle koalas, join bronzed urbanites on the beaches on the weekend, and sunbathe by the Brisbane River while gazing up at the citys gleaming skyscrapers. Take the lead of the easygoing Brisbanites because Queensland’s subtropical capital is too hot to rush.

Beyond landmarks such as the 1920s City Hall, and the Treasury Building’s graceful colonnades, Brisbane’s major attractions are outdoors. Cool down under a canopy of subtropical foliage at the Brisbane Botanic Gardens. Gaze at contemporary art at the Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA), dinosaurs at the Queensland Museum, and skyscrapers from the gently revolving Wheel of Brisbane. Koalasmore than 130 of thembeg a cuddle at the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary.

The city center and surrounding suburbs represent fusion cuisine at its finest. Party and dining hotspot Fortitude Valley serves the world on a plateeverything from Spanish tapas to Thaiin chic lounge-style restaurants. South Bank goes alfresco in casual eateries dishing up fresh seafood and modern Australian fare, with glittering Brisbane River views.