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World Travel Guide > Guides > Oceania > Australia > Queensland > Brisbane

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Brisbane History

The first European explorer to reach Brisbane was Captain Matthew Finders in 1799. Brisbane grew to life just over 20 years later when a convict colony was established overlooking Moreton Bay in 1823. Called Redcliffe, it swiftly gained a reputation for being a place where the punishments were particularly harsh, and as a result, many of the worst convicts sent to Sydney were moved on to what would become Brisbane.
Thanks to its regular rainfall and teeming seas, the area was opened up to free settlers in 1842, marking the proper start of the city. Despite protests from the indigenous Turrbul and Jagera people, settlers cleared forest and established farms, paving the way for the city itself. A boost came in 1859 when Queensland was declared separate from New South Wales and Brisbane named the capital.
With Brisbane’s new status came accelerated development, and the city gained its first electric street lamps in 1882, followed by a railway terminus in 1879. Next it built its own immigration centre in 1887 and with that, a corresponding expansion of the city population. Finally, in 1902, Brisbane was given its charter and officially became a city.
Despite the auspicious start to the 20th century, WWI saw many of the local men travel abroad to fight, with thousands killed at Gallipoli. During WWII, the city also became a hub for Allied troops fighting in the South Pacific, with many government buildings turned over to the soldiers. It wasn’t all smooth sailing however, and in 1942, riots broke out that left one Australian soldier dead.
In the post-war years, Brisbane continued to grow, with many of the Allied soldiers who served there during the war choosing to remain.
The 1960s saw the modernisation of public transport and sewerage, enabling the city to grow even further. However, the flood defence system built at this time was found tragically lacking in 2011 when thousands of homes were flooded and 35 residents were left dead.
Today, Brisbane remains one of the fastest growing cities in Australia – and one of the most popular with tourists.

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Rydges South Bank Brisbane

With a South Bank postcode, this modern hotel is ideally placed for art aficionados and culture buffs. Rooms are elegant without being fussy and the high-end options feature private balconies with views over the Brisbane River and city skyline. There are 304 rooms, including 64 one-bedroom suites. A gymnasium, spa and sauna are among the in-house attractions.

George Williams Hotel

In the heart of the CBD, this 103-room hotel makes the ideal base from which to explore the city. Following an extensive A $2.5 million dollar revamp, the minimalist rooms feature colourful artworks, flat-screen TVs and coffee-making facilities. The on-site restaurant, 325 on George, dishes up international fare in a casual outdoor setting.

Capri by Fraser

Billing itself as urban inspired, high tech and intuitive, this is one of the latest additions to Brisbane's vibrant hotel scene. Capri offers 239 serviced studios and one-bedroom apartments, each featuring integrated living spaces and kitchenettes fitted with a microwave and Nespresso coffee machines. Within striking distance from Queen Street Mall and Eagle Street Pier, some of the other highlights of the chic property include living vertical gardens, art installations, and facilities such as a restaurant, an indoor pool, a sauna and 24/7 fitness centre.

Spicers Balfour Hotel

Spicers Balfour hotel is an Art Deco style boutique hotel, situated in the historic suburb of New Farm but still central enough to get around the city. The hotel also has a rooftop bar for the evenings and does high tea over brunch or in the afternoon. Check the Spicers Balfour website for the best days to book and save some money.

Summer House Brisbane

Summer House is a great accommodation option for those looking to save on hotel rooms, and it's just a 10-minute walk from the Central Business District. Fabulous graffiti style murals adorn the walls and the atmosphere is warm and lively - the perfect place to meet new people to explore the city with. With laundry facilities, free wifi, a rooftop terrace and a TV room, this hostel has all you need during your stay in Brisbane.

Ibis Brisbane

Good sized rooms, friendly service and a perfect central location make the Ibis one of the better moderately priced hotel options in the city. With Wi-Fi facilities, meeting rooms and a restaurant, this hotel is ideal for both business and holiday travellers.