If you’re an average Kiwi family with 2.5 kids and a golden retriever, a family holiday to Australia invariably ends up in the Brisbane and roundabout area. But a visit to Queensland doesn’t mean you have to head down the coast to the GC. Here are five pretty cool reasons to stick around in Brisbane.

Koala cuddling at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
Tourism Australia Rule #1: Thou shalt not leave Australia without cuddling a koala. Yup. It’s a thing. Pop into Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary to get up close and personal with 130 or so of these incredibly cute and oh-so gentle fur babies (watch out for their fingernails though). While you’re there, say ‘Gidday!’ to Lone Pine’s resident kangaroos, platypus, snakes, lorikeets and birds of prey. Be warned though; keep an eye on the nearest exit when you meet the Tasmanian devil. If Looney Tunes is anything to go by, it gon’ get cray.

Watching for whales
It isn’t often you get to be one with nature within spitting distance of a big bad city, but Brisbane proves you wrong. Board a boat and head out to Moreton Bay where you could get a glimpse of majestic whales on their way from the chilly waters of the Antarctic to the Bahamas or somewhere equally warm for the winter. Tours depart daily from June to November when the giants will be passing through. Any other time and you’ll need to rent Free Willy.

Sand-boarding on Moreton Island
Since you’re already out yonder, stop in at Moreton Island on your way back to town. With silky white sands and crystal-clear water that looks like it’s been conjured straight out of a dream featuring Ryan Gosling, Moreton Island promises a solid dose of escapism despite its proximity to the mainland. Take a walk on the slightly wild side with a 4WD wilderness tour; feed friendly dolphins close to the shore and straight out of your hands; or whizz down the largest sand island in the world atop a toboggan. If you can’t bear to leave, book a night (or 10) at Tangalooma Island Resort.

Feeling cool in trendy South Bank
If you really want to be hip with the kids, head to South Bank where you’ll discover a different side to Brisbane. The juxtaposition of Streets Beach, Australia’s only inner-city man-made beach featuring a lagoon, white sands, palm trees and lifeguards, alongside quirky cafes, restaurants, boutique stores and art galleries creates a unique cultural experience you’ll go all gah-gah over for ages. Don’t blame yourself if you never want to leave.

Brisbane Festival, Saturday 7th – Saturday 28th September
And if you’re a bit of an artsy type but you don’t have all the time in the world to survey the whole city, head to the Brisbane Festival where the art comes direct to you. Pop along to any given theatre, gallery, park or public space and be metaphorically smacked in the face with incredible local and international dance, theatre, opera, circus, sideshow and music acts. The pièce de résistance is the climax of fireworks and general woohoos at the iconic Sunsuper Riverfire on the 28th.

It’s high time you popped across to Brizzy yourself. Check out these package deals including flights and accommodation, thanks to China Airlines and GrabOne.