The Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef is undoubtedly the most famous marine-protected area in the world and the largest World Heritage area according to UNESCO. Covering a geographical area of 35 million hectares (86 million acres) and stretching approximately 2000km (1243 miles) along the coast of northeastern Australia from Budaberg to Cape York, the Reef is bigger in size than the states of Victoria and Tasmania combined; it is, however, not a continuous barrier, but a maze of small islands and coral reefs ranging in size from one to 100,000 hectares (247,104 acres). The Great Barrier Reef is the largest coral reef system in the world and home to approximately 400 different types of coral. It is also an area of outstanding natural beauty and home to around 1500 different species of fish, 4000 types of mollusc and many endangered species, such as the dugong, as well as other rare animals and birds, including marine worms and reef herons. There are also more than 30 historic shipwrecks in the area and a number of archaeological sites which are of Aboriginal origin.
Queensland Cultural Centre
This superb complex spans two blocks either side of Melbourne St in South Brisbane, just across Victoria Bridge. It houses the Queensland Art Gallery, the Queensland Museum, the State Library and the Performing Arts Complex. The museum has a dinosaur garden and a worthwhile exhibition on whales; the art gallery has an impressive permanent Australian collection and plenty of temporary exhibits. There are cafes in the Performing Arts Complex, the gallery and library.
South Bank Parklands
South Bank, formerly the site of Expo 88, has been redeveloped and is now one of the citys liveliest areas. Covering 16 hectares (40 acres), its attractions include restaurants and cafes, and IMAX theatre, parklands and bike paths, market stalls and even a sandy swimming beach.
The best place to get a view of the city is from the lookout on Mt Coot-tha, 8k (5mi) from the city centre. On a clear day, you can see the distant line of Moreton and Stradbroke Islands, the Glasshouse Mountains to the north, the mountains behind the Gold Coast to the south and Brisbane at your feet. There are some good walks around Mt Coot-Tha and its foothills, such as the one to JC Slaughter Falls on Simpsons Rd. The Mt Coot-Tha Botanic Gardens, at the foot of the mountain, have an enclosed tropical dome, an arid zone, rainforests and a Japanese garden. Youll also find the Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium, the largest in Australia, here.
Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
Just a 35 minute bus ride south from the city centre, the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary is an easy half-day trip. The sanctuary is set in attractive parklands beside the river (you can get there by boat) and is home to a wide variety of Australian wildlife, including kangaroos, possums, wombats, emus and lyrebirds. The star attractions are the 130 or so koalas. Theyre undeniably cute a