Brisbane (/ˈbrɪzbən/ (listen))[8] is the capital of and the most populated city in the Australian state of Queensland,[9] and the third most populous city in Australia. Brisbane's metropolitan area has a population of approximately 2.5 million,[10] and the South East Queensland metropolitan region, centred on Brisbane, encompasses a population of more than 3.6 million.[11]

Map of the Brisbane metropolitan area
Coordinates27°28′04″S 153°01′41″E
Population2,462,637 (2018)[1] (3rd)
 • Density155/km2 (400/sq mi)
Established13 May 1825 (1825-05-13)
Area15,842 km2 (6,116.6 sq mi)[2] (2016 GCCSA)
Time zoneAEST (UTC+10:00)
RegionSouth East Queensland
CountyStanley, Canning, Cavendish, Churchill, Ward
State electorate(s)41 divisions
Federal Division(s)17 divisions
Mean max temp Mean min temp Annual rainfall
25.4 °C
78 °F
15.7 °C
60 °F
1,036 mm
40.8 in

The Brisbane central business district stands on the historic European settlement and is situated inside a peninsula of the Brisbane River, about 15 kilometres (9 miles) from its mouth at Moreton Bay, a bay of the Coral Sea.[12] The metropolitan area extends in all directions along the hilly floodplain of the Brisbane River Valley between Moreton Bay and the Taylor and D'Aguilar mountain ranges. It sprawls across several of Australia's most populous local government areas (LGAs)—most centrally the City of Brisbane, which is by far the most populous LGA in the nation. The demonym of Brisbane is "Brisbanite",[13][14] whilst common nicknames include "Brissy", "River City"[15] and "Brisvegas".[16]

One of the oldest cities in Australia, Brisbane was founded upon the ancient homelands of the indigenous Turrbal and Jagera peoples. Named after the Brisbane River on which it is located—which in turn takes its name from Sir Thomas Brisbane, the Governor of New South Wales at the time of the city's founding[9]—the area was chosen as a place for secondary offenders from the Sydney Colony. A penal settlement was founded in 1824 at Redcliffe, 28 kilometres (17 mi) north of the central business district, but was soon abandoned and moved to North Quay in 1825, opening to free settlement in 1842. Brisbane was chosen as the capital when Queensland was proclaimed a separate colony from New South Wales in 1859. During World War II, Brisbane played a central role in the Allied campaign and served as the South West Pacific headquarters for United States Army General Douglas MacArthur.[17]

A diverse city with 32.2% of its metropolitan population being foreign born,[18] Brisbane is ranked as a world city,[19][20] and ranks highly in ratings of livable cities.[21][22][23] Brisbane is well known for its distinct Queenslander architecture which forms much of the city's built heritage. Brisbane was also the origin of the Anzac Day tradition through the works of Canon David John Garland.

A transportation hub, Brisbane is served by a large suburban rail network, popular bus and ferry networks as well as Australia's third-busiest airport and seaport.

Several large cultural, international and sporting events have been held at Brisbane, including the 1982 Commonwealth Games, World Expo '88, the final Goodwill Games in 2001, and the 2014 G-20 summit.

Brisbane is a popular tourist destination, serving as a gateway to the state of Queensland, particularly to the Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast, which are home to numerous popular surf beaches, located immediately south and north of Brisbane respectively. Major landmarks and attractions include South Bank Parklands and the Queensland Cultural Centre including the Queensland Museum, Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art, City Hall and King George Square, the Story Bridge, the City Botanic Gardens and Parliament of Queensland, ANZAC Square, Howard Smith Wharves, Fortitude Valley, West End, Teneriffe woolstores precinct, Roma Street Parkland, New Farm Park and the Brisbane Powerhouse, St John's Cathedral, Mount Coot-tha with its Botanic Gardens and planetarium, Redcliffe and Wynnum on Moreton Bay, and Moreton, Stradbroke and Bribie islands.


Pre-19th century

Indigenous Australians are believed to have lived in coastal South East Queensland for 22,000 years, with an estimated population between 6,000 and 10,000 individuals before white settlement.[24][25] At this time, the Brisbane area was inhabited by the Jagera people, including the Turrbal group,[26] who knew the area that is now the central business district as Mian-jin, meaning "place shaped as a spike".[27] Archaeological evidence suggests frequent habitation around the Brisbane River, and notably at the site now known as Musgrave Park.[28]

19th century

The Moreton Bay area was initially explored on behalf of European colonisers by Matthew Flinders. On 17 July 1799, Flinders landed at what is now known as Woody Point, which he named "Red Cliff Point" after the red-coloured cliffs visible from the bay.[29] In 1823 Governor of New South Wales Sir Thomas Brisbane instructed that a new northern penal settlement be developed, and an exploration party led by John Oxley further explored Moreton Bay.[30]

Oxley claimed, named, and explored the Brisbane River as far as Goodna, 20 km (12 mi) upstream from the Brisbane central business district.[30] Oxley recommended Red Cliff Point for the new colony, reporting that ships could land at any tide and easily get close to the shore.[31] The party settled in Redcliffe on 13 September 1824, under the command of Lieutenant Henry Miller with 14 soldiers (some with wives and children) and 29 convicts. However, this settlement was abandoned after a year and the colony was moved to a site on the Brisbane River now known as North Quay, 28 km (17 mi) south, which offered a more reliable water supply. The newly selected Brisbane region, at the time, was plagued by mosquitos.[32]

After visiting the Redcliffe settlement, Sir Thomas Brisbane then travelled 45 km (28 mi) up the Brisbane River in December 1824. Governor Brisbane stayed overnight in a tent and often landed ashore, bestowing upon Brisbane City the distinction of being the only Australian capital city set foot upon by its namesake.[33] Chief Justice Forbes gave the new settlement the name of Edenglassie before it was named Brisbane.[34]

Non-convict European settlement of the Brisbane region commenced in 1838 and the population grew strongly thereafter, with free settlers soon far outstripping the convict population.[35] German missionaries settled at Zions Hill, Nundah as early as 1837, five years before Brisbane was officially declared a free settlement. The band consisted of ministers Christopher Eipper (1813–1894) and Carl Wilhelm Schmidt and lay missionaries Haussmann, Johann Gottried Wagner, Niquet, Hartenstein, Zillman, Franz, Rode, Doege and Schneider.[36] They were allocated 260 hectares and set about establishing the mission, which became known as the German Station.[37] Later in the 1860s many German immigrants from the Uckermark region in Prussia as well as other German regions settled in the Bethania- Beenleigh and Darling Downs areas. These immigrants were selected and assisted through immigration programs established by John Dunmore Lang and Johann Christian Heussler and were offered free passage, good wages, and selections of land.[38][39]

The penal settlement under the control of Captain Patrick Logan flourished with the numbers of convicts increasing dramatically from around 200 to over 1000 men.[40] He created a substantial settlement of brick and stone buildings, complete with school and hospital. He formed additional outstations and made several important journeys of exploration. Logan is infamous for his extreme use of the cat o' nine tails on convicts. The maximum allowed limit of lashes was 50; however, Logan regularly applied sentences of 150 lashes.[40]

Free settlers entered the area over the following five years, and by the end of 1840, Robert Dixon began work on the first plan of Brisbane Town, in anticipation of future development.[41] Queensland was separated from New South Wales by letters patent dated 6 June 1859, proclaimed by Sir George Ferguson Bowen on 10 December 1859, whereupon he became Queensland's first governor,[42] with Brisbane chosen as its capital.

20th century

Over 20 small municipalities and shires were amalgamated in 1925 to form the City of Brisbane, governed by the Brisbane City Council.[43][44] A significant year for Brisbane was 1930, with the completion of Brisbane City Hall, then the city's tallest building and the Shrine of Remembrance, in ANZAC Square, which has become Brisbane's main war memorial.[45] These historic buildings, along with the Story Bridge which opened in 1940, are key landmarks that help define the architectural character of the city.

During World War II, Brisbane became central to the Allied campaign when the AMP Building (now called MacArthur Central) was used as the South West Pacific headquarters for General Douglas MacArthur, chief of the Allied Pacific forces, until his headquarters were moved to Hollandia in August 1944. MacArthur had previously rejected use of the University of Queensland complex as his headquarters, as the distinctive bends in the river at St Lucia could have aided enemy bombers. Also used as a headquarters by the American troops during World War II was the T & G Building.[46] About one million US troops passed through Australia during the war, as the primary co-ordination point for the South West Pacific.[47] In 1942, Brisbane was the site of a violent clash between visiting US military personnel and Australian servicemen and civilians, which resulted in one death and hundreds of injuries. This incident became known colloquially as the Battle of Brisbane.[48]

Postwar Brisbane had developed a "big country town" stigma, an image the city's politicians and marketers were very keen to remove.[49] In the late 1950s, an anonymous poet known as The Brisbane Bard generated much attention on the city which helped shake this stigma.[50][51] Despite steady growth, Brisbane's development was punctuated by infrastructure problems. The state government under Joh Bjelke-Petersen began a major program of change and urban renewal, beginning with the central business district and inner suburbs. Trams in Brisbane were a popular mode of public transport until the network was closed in 1969, leaving Melbourne and one line in Adelaide as the last Australian state capitals to operate trams until Sydney begun operation of a new system in 1997.

The 1974 Brisbane flood was a major disaster which temporarily crippled the city. During this era, Brisbane grew and modernized, rapidly becoming a destination of interstate migration. Some of Brisbane's popular landmarks were lost to development in controversial circumstances, including the Bellevue Hotel in 1979 and Cloudland in 1982. Major public works included the Riverside Expressway, the Gateway Bridge, and later, the redevelopment of South Bank, starting with the Queensland Art Gallery.

Brisbane hosted the 1982 Commonwealth Games and the 1988 World Exposition (known locally as World Expo 88). These events were accompanied by a scale of public expenditure, construction, and development not previously seen in the state of Queensland.[52][53] Brisbane's population growth far exceeded the national average in the last two decades of the 20th century, with a high level of interstate migration from Victoria and New South Wales.

21st century

After two decades of record population growth, Brisbane was hit again by a major flood in January 2011. The Brisbane River did not reach the same height as the previous 1974 flood, but still caused extensive damage and disruption to the city.[54][55]

Brisbane also hosted major international events including the final Goodwill Games in 2001, some of the games in the 2003 Rugby World Cup, as well as the 2014 G20 Brisbane summit.

Population grown has continued to be higher than the national average in the first two decades of the 21st century, and major infrastructure including the Howard Smith Wharves, Roma Street Parklands, Queens Wharf, the Brisbane Riverwalk, the Clem Jones, Airport Link, and Legacy Way road tunnels, and the Airport, Springfield, Redcliffe Peninsula and Cross River Rail railway lines have been completed or are under construction.


Brisbane is in the southeast corner of Queensland. The city is centred along the Brisbane River, and its eastern suburbs line the shores of Moreton Bay, a bay of the Coral Sea in the Pacific Ocean. The greater Brisbane region is on the coastal plain east of the Great Dividing Range, with the Taylor and D'Aguilar ranges extending into the metropolitan area. Brisbane's metropolitan area sprawls along the Moreton Bay floodplain between the Gold and Sunshine coats, approximately from Caboolture in the north to Beenleigh in the south, and across to Ipswich in the south west.

The Brisbane River is a wide tidal estuary and its waters throughout most of the metropolitan area are brackish and navigable. The metropolitan area is also traversed by several other rivers and creeks including the North Pine and South Pine rivers in the northern suburbs, which converge to form the Pine River estuary at Bramble Bay, the Caboolture River further north, the Logan and Albert rivers in the south-eastern suburbs, and tributaries of the Brisbane River including the Bremer River in the south-western suburbs, Breakfast Creek in the inner-north, Norman Creek in the inner-south, Oxley Creek in the south, Bulimba Creek in the inner south-east and Moggill Creek in the west.

The waters of Moreton Bay are relatively calm, being sheltered from large swells by Moreton, Stradbroke and Bribie islands, whereas unsheltered surf beaches lie on the eastern coasts of the bay islands and on the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast to the north and south.

The city of Brisbane is hilly.[56] The urban area, including the central business district, are partially elevated by spurs of the Herbert Taylor Range, such as the summit of Mount Coot-tha, reaching up to 300 m (980 ft) and the smaller Enoggera Hill. Other prominent rises in Brisbane are Mount Gravatt and nearby Toohey Mountain. Mount Petrie at 170 m (560 ft) and the lower rises of Highgate Hill, Mount Ommaney, Stephens Mountain, and Whites Hill are dotted across the city. Also, on the west, are the higher Mount Glorious, (680 m), and Mount Nebo (550 m).

The city is on a low-lying floodplain.[57] Many suburban creeks criss-cross the city, increasing the risk of flooding. The city has suffered three major floods since its founding, in February 1893, January 1974 (partially a result of Cyclone Wanda), and January 2011 (partially a result of Cyclone Tasha).

Urban structure

The steel cantilever Story Bridge was constructed in 1940 to connect Fortitude Valley to Kangaroo Point. In the image on the right, the bridge is illuminated in blue for ovarian cancer awareness.

The Brisbane central business district (CBD) lies in a curve of the Brisbane river. The CBD covers 2.2 km2 (0.8 sq mi) and is walkable. Central streets are named after members of the House of Hanover. Queen Street is Brisbane's traditional main street. Streets named after female members (Adelaide, Alice, Ann, Charlotte, Elizabeth, Margaret, and Mary) run parallel to Queen Street and Queen Street Mall (named in honour of Queen Victoria) and perpendicular to streets named after male members (Albert, Edward, George, William). The city has retained some heritage buildings dating back to the 1820s. The Old Windmill in Wickham Park, built by convict labour in 1824,[58][59] is the oldest surviving building in Brisbane. The Old Windmill was originally used for the grinding of grain and a punishment for the convicts who manually operated the grinding mill. The Old Windmill tower's other significant claim to fame, largely ignored, is that the first television signals in the southern hemisphere were transmitted from it by experimenters in April 1934—long before TV commenced in most places. These experimental TV broadcasts continued until World War II.[58] The Old Commissariat Store, on William Street, built by convict labour in 1828, was originally used partly as a grainhouse, has also been a hostel for immigrants and used for the storage of records. Built with Brisbane tuff from the nearby Kangaroo Point Cliffs and sandstone from a quarry near today's Albion Park Racecourse, it is now the home of the Royal Historical Society of Brisbane. It contains a museum and can also be hired for small functions.[60][61][62] Greater Brisbane had a density of 148 inhabitants per square kilometre (380/sq mi) in 2016.[63] Like most Australian and North American cities, Brisbane has a sprawling metropolitan area which takes in excess of one hour to traverse either north to south or east to west by car without traffic.

Pre-1950 housing was often built in a distinctive architectural style known as a Queenslander, featuring timber construction with large verandahs and high ceilings. The relatively low cost of timber in south-east Queensland meant that until recently, most residences were constructed of timber, rather than brick or stone. Many of these houses are elevated on stumps (also called "stilts"), that were originally timber, but are now frequently replaced by steel or concrete. Queenslander houses are considered iconic to Brisbane and are typically sold at a significant premium to equivalent modern houses. Early legislation decreed a minimum size for residential blocks causing few terrace houses being constructed in Brisbane. The high-density housing that historically existed came in the form of miniature Queenslander-style houses which resemble the much larger traditional styles, but are sometimes only one-quarter the size. These houses are common in the inner-city suburbs.

From the 1970s onward, there has been a large increase in the construction of apartment developments, including mid-rise and high rise buildings, which has quickened in the 21st century. At the 2016 census, 76.4% of residents lived in separate houses, 12.6% lived in apartments, and 10% lived in townhouses, terrace houses, or semidetached houses.[64]

Brisbane is home to several of Australia's tallest buildings and it is ranked among world cities with the most skyscrapers. Brisbane's tallest building is currently Brisbane Skytower, which has a height of 270 metres.[65]

Walter Taylor Bridge (road) (left), Albert Bridge (rail) (centre), unnamed bridge (rail) (right), Jack Pesch Bridge (far right)
Eleanor Schonell Bridge (Green Bridge) (pedestrians, pedal cycles, buses)
Merivale Bridge (rail)
Grey Street Bridge (William Jolly Bridge) (road)
Victoria Bridge
Captain Cook Bridge
Story Bridge
Pacific Motorway
Suncorp Stadium (Lang Park) (Rugby league ground)
Norman Creek (Anglican Church Grammar School)
Oxley Creek
Brisbane River
Indooroopilly Shoppingtown
"The Gabba" (Brisbane Cricket Ground)
South Bank arts and recreation precinct
Central business district
University of Queensland (UQ) St Lucia Campus
City Botanic Gardens
Queensland University of Technology (QUT) Gardens Point Campus
Goodwill Bridge (pedestrians and pedal cycles)
The Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital
Mater Private Hospital
Roma Street Rail Station
Roma Street Parkland
New Farm Park and Powerhouse
Victoria Park Golf Course
Brisbane Exhibition Ground
Brisbane Riverwalk
Inner City Bypass (rail) (left) (road) (right)
Indooroopilly Golf Course
Howard Smith Wharves
Eagle Street Pier
Queen Street Mall


Brisbane has a humid subtropical climate (Köppen climate classification: Cfa)[66] with hot, wet summers and moderately dry, moderately warm winters.[67][68] Brisbane experiences an annual mean minimum of 16.6 °C (62 °F) and mean maximum of 26.6 °C (80 °F), making it Australia's second-hottest capital city after Darwin.[69] Seasonality is not pronounced, and average maximum temperatures of above 26 °C (79 °F) persist from October through to April.

Due to its proximity to the Coral Sea and a warm ocean current, Brisbane's overall temperature variability is somewhat less than most Australian capitals. Summers are long, hot, and wet, but temperatures only occasionally reach 35 °C (95 °F) or more. Eighty percent of summer days record a maximum temperature of 27 to 33 °C (81 to 91 °F). Winters are short and warm, with average maximums of about 22 °C (72 °F); maximum temperatures below 20 °C (68 °F) are rare.

The city's highest recorded temperature was 43.2 °C (109.8 °F) on Australia Day 1940 at the Brisbane Regional Office,[70] with the highest temperature at the current station being 41.7 °C (107.1 °F) on 22 February 2004;[71] but temperatures above 38 °C (100 °F) are uncommon. On 19 July 2007, Brisbane's temperature fell below the freezing point for the first time since records began, registering −0.1 °C (31.8 °F) at the airport station.[72] The city station has never dropped below 2 °C (36 °F),[73] with the average coldest night during winter being around 6 °C (43 °F), however locations in the west of the metropolitan area such as Ipswich have dropped as low as −5 °C (23 °F) with heavy ground frost.[74]

In 2009, the current Brisbane weather station recorded its hottest winter day at 35.4 °C (95.7 °F) on 24 August;[75] however, on the penultimate day of winter, the Brisbane Regional Office station recorded a temperature of 38.3 °C (100.9 °F) on 22 September 1943.[76][77] The average July day however is around 22 °C (72 °F) with sunny skies and low humidity, occasionally as high as 27 °C (81 °F), whilst maximum temperatures below 18 °C (64 °F) are uncommon and usually associated with brief periods of cloud and winter rain.[73] The highest minimum temperature ever recorded in Brisbane was 28.0 °C (82.4 °F) on 29 January 1940 and again on 21 January 2017, whilst the lowest maximum temperature was 10.2 °C (50.4 °F) on 12 August 1954.[70]

Annual precipiation is ample. From November to March, thunderstorms are common over Brisbane, with the more severe events accompanied by large damaging hail stones, torrential rain and destructive winds. On an annual basis, Brisbane averages 124 clear days.[78] Dewpoints in the summer average at around 20 °C (68 °F); the apparent temperature exceeds 30 °C (86 °F) on almost all summer days.[73] Brisbane's wettest day occurred on 21 January 1887, when 465 millimetres (18.3 in) of rain fell on the city, the highest maximum daily rainfall of Australia's capital cities. The wettest month on record was February 1893, when 1,025.9 millimetres (40.39 in) of rain fell, although in the last 30 years the record monthly rainfall has been a much lower 479.8 millimetres (18.89 in) from December 2010. Very occasionally a whole month will pass with no recorded rainfall, the last time this happened was August 1991.[70]

Brisbane is within the southern reaches of the tropical cyclone risk zone. Full strength tropical cyclones rarely affect Brisbane, but they do occasionally. The biggest risk is ex tropical cyclones which can cause destructive winds and flooding rains.

The average annual temperature of the sea ranges from 21.0 °C (69.8 °F) in July to 27.0 °C (80.6 °F) in February.[79]

Climate data for Brisbane (Brisbane Airport, 1994-2019)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 29.1
Daily mean °C (°F) 25.3
Average low °C (°F) 21.4
Average rainfall mm (inches) 127
Average rainy days 12.1 12.6 13.5 10.7 9.6 9.0 6.8 5.2 6.0 8.7 10.6 11.6 116
Average afternoon relative humidity (%) 63 63 61 58 56 55 50 50 55 58 61 62 58
Mean monthly sunshine hours 267 235 233 237 239 198 239 270 267 270 273 264 2,989
Source: Bureau of Meteorology[80]


Brisbane City Hall home to the Museum of Brisbane, Brisbane City Council offices and Parliament House, the home of Queensland's state legislature

Unlike other Australian capital cities, a large portion of the greater metropolitan area, or Greater Capital City Statistical Area (GCCSA) of Brisbane is controlled by a single local government area, the City of Brisbane. Since the creation of the City of Brisbane in 1925 the urban areas of Brisbane have expanded considerably past the council boundaries.[81] The City of Brisbane local government area is by far the largest local government area (in terms of population and budget) in Australia, serving more than 40% of the GCCSA's population. It was formed by the merger of twenty smaller LGAs in 1925, and covers an area of 1,367 km2 (528 sq mi).

The remainder of the metropolitan area falls into the LGAs of Logan City to the south, Moreton Bay Region in the northern suburbs, the City of Ipswich to the south west, Redland City to the south east on the bayside, with a small strip to the far west in the Scenic Rim Region.


Brisbane is one of the major business hubs in Australia.[82] Most major Australian companies, as well as numerous international companies, have contact offices in Brisbane, while numerous electronics businesses have distribution hubs in and around the city. DHL Global's Oceanic distribution warehouse is located in Brisbane, as is Asia Pacific Aerospace's headquarters. Home grown major companies include Suncorp-Metway Limited, Flight Centre, Sunsuper, Orrcon, Credit Union Australia, Boeing Australia, Donut King,, WebCentral, PIPE Networks, Krome Studios, Mincom Limited, TechnologyOne, Thiess Pty Ltd and Virgin Australia.

White-collar industries include information technology, financial services, higher education and public sector administration generally concentrated in and around the central business district and satellite hubs located in the inner suburbs such as South Brisbane, Fortitude Valley, Spring Hill, Milton and Toowong. Blue-collar industries, including petroleum refining, stevedoring, paper milling, metalworking and QR railway workshops, tend to be located on the lower reaches of the Brisbane River and in new industrial zones on the urban fringe. Tourism is an important part of the Brisbane economy, both in its own right and as a gateway to other areas of Queensland.[83]

Since the late 1990s and early 2000s, the Queensland State Government has been developing technology and science industries in Queensland as a whole, and Brisbane in particular, .[84] The government has invested in several biotechnology and research facilities at several universities in Brisbane. The Institute for Molecular Bioscience at the University of Queensland (UQ) Saint Lucia Campus is a large CSIRO and Queensland state government initiative for research and innovation that is currently being emulated at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) Campus at Kelvin Grove with the establishment of the Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation (IHBI).[85]

In two rankings: Globalization and World Cities Research Network[19] and Schroders Global Cities Index,[20] Brisbane is classified as a world city.

Port of Brisbane

Brisbane throughout its history has been one of Australia's most important port cities. The Port of Brisbane located at the mouth of the Brisbane River and on the adjacent Fisherman's Island, created by means of land reclamation. It is the 3rd busiest port in Australia for value of goods.[86] Container freight, sugar, grain, coal and bulk liquids are the major exports. Most of the port facilities are less than three decades old and some are built on reclaimed mangroves and wetlands.

The Port is a part of the Australia TradeCoast, which includes the Brisbane Airport along with large industrial estates located along both banks at the mouth of the Brisbane River.[87]


Brisbane's Greater Capital City Statistical Area includes the Local Government Areas of City of Brisbane, City of Ipswich, Moreton Bay Region, Logan City and Redland City, as well as parts of Lockyer Valley Region, Scenic Rim Region and Somerset Region, which form a continuous metropolitan area. The Australian Bureau of Statistics estimates that the population of Greater Brisbane is 2,462,637 as of June 2018,[90] making it the third largest city in Australia.

Ancestry and immigration

Country of Birth (2016)[91]
Birthplace[N 2]Population
New Zealand106,053
Mainland China36,175
South Africa22,068
South Korea12,202

At the 2016 census, the most commonly nominated ancestries were:[N 3][92]

The 2016 census showed that 32.2% of Brisbane's inhabitants were born overseas[64] and 50.9% of inhabitants had at least one parent born overseas.[64] Brisbane has the 26th largest immigrant population among world metropolitan areas. Of inhabitants born outside of Australia, the four most prevalent countries of birth were New Zealand, England, Mainland China, and India.[64] Brisbane has the largest New Zealand and Taiwanese-born populations of any city in Australia.[91]

The areas of Sunnybank,[94] Sunnybank Hills,[95] Stretton,[96] Robertson,[97] Calamvale,[98] Macgregor,[99] Eight Mile Plains,[100] Runcorn[101] and Rochedale,[102] are home to a large proportion of Brisbane's Mainland China, Taiwan and Hong Kong-born population, with Chinese being the most commonly-reported ancestry in each of these areas. The Vietnamese-born are the largest immigrant group in Inala,[103] Darra,[104] Durack,[105] Willawong,[106] Richlands[107] and Doolandella.[108] The Indian-born are the largest immigrant group in Chermside.[109]

2.4% of the population, or 54,158 people, identified as Indigenous Australians (Aboriginal Australians and Torres Strait Islanders) in 2016.[N 6][92]


At the 2016 census, 78% of inhabitants spoke only English at home,[64] with the next most common languages being Mandarin (2.4%), Vietnamese (1.0%), Cantonese (0.9%), Spanish (0.7%), Hindi (0.6%), Samoan (0.6%), Korean (0.6%) and Punjabi (0.6%).[110]


At the 2016 census, the most commonly cited religious affiliations was 'No religion' (30.6%).[92]

Brisbane's most popular religion at the 2016 census was Christianity, and the most popular denomonations were Catholicism (21.5%) and Anglicanism (13.3%). Other Christian denominations including Uniting Church, Baptists, Pentecostalism, Lutheranism and Eastern Orthodox made up 18.8% of the population.[92] All Christian demoninations totalled 53.6% of the population. Brisbane's CBD is home to two cathedrals — St John's (Anglican) and St Stephen's (Catholic).

The most popular non-Christian religions at the 2016 census were Buddhist (2%), Muslim (1.5%) and Hindu (1.5%).[92]


Brisbane's four major multi-campus universities, all of which are among the nation's highest rated:

Other universities which have campuses in Brisbane include the Australian Catholic University, Central Queensland University, James Cook University and the University of the Sunshine Coast.

Brisbane is a major destination for International students, who comprise a large proportion of enrolments in Brisbane's universities and are important to the city's economy and real estate market. In 2018, there were over 95,000 international students enrolled in universities and other tertiary education institutions in the central Brisbane City Council local government area alone.[114] The majority of Brisbane's international students originate from China, India and other countries in the Asia-Pacific region.[115]

There are three major TAFE colleges in Brisbane; the Brisbane North Institute of TAFE, the Metropolitan South Institute of TAFE, and the Southbank Institute of TAFE.[116] Brisbane is also home to numerous other independent tertiary providers, including the Australian College of Natural Medicine, the Queensland Theological College, the Brisbane College of Theology, SAE Institute), Jschool: Journalism Education & Training, JMC Academy, and American College and the Aboriginal Centre for the Performing Arts.

Many of Brisbane's preschool, primary, and secondary schools are under the jurisdiction of Education Queensland, a branch of the Queensland Government.[117] Independent (private), Roman Catholic and other religious schools also comprise a large share of Brisbane's primary and secondary schooling sectors, with the oldest such independent schools comprising the memberships of the Great Public Schools Association of Queensland (GPS) for boys' schools and Queensland Girls' Secondary Schools Sports Association (QGSSSA) for girls' schools.



Brisbane is home to several art galleries, the largest of which are the Queensland Art Gallery and the Queensland Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA). GOMA is the largest modern art gallery in Australia. GOMA holds the Asia Pacific Triennial (APT) which focuses on contemporary art from the Asia and Pacific in a variety of media from painting to video work. In Addition, its size enables the gallery to exhibit particularly large shows—the Andy Warhol exhibition being the largest survey of his work in Australia.


In addition to dramatic and musical theatre performances at the multiple theatres located at Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC), the Brisbane Powerhouse in New Farm and the Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts on Brunswick Street in Fortitude Valley feature diverse programs featuring exhibitions and festivals of visual art, music and dance.

Brisbane is also home to numerous small theatres that provide access to emerging amateur and pro-am artists and companies. The oldest is the Brisbane Arts Theatre which was founded in 1936. It has a regular adult and children's theatre and is located in Petrie Terrace. The La Boite Theatre Company now performs at the Roundhouse Theatre at Kelvin Grove. Other professional theatres in the city include the Twelfth Night Theatre at Bowen Hills, the Metro Arts Theatre located in Edward Street, and the Queensland Theatre Company's Bille Brown Theatre in West End.


The Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC), which is located at South Bank, consists of the Lyric Theatre, a Concert Hall, Cremorne Theatre and the Playhouse Theatre and is home to the Queensland Ballet, Opera Queensland, Queensland Theatre Company, and the Queensland Symphony Orchestra. The Queensland Conservatorium, in which professional companies and Conservatorium students also stage performances, is located within the South Bank Parklands. Numerous choirs present performances across the city annually. These choirs include the Brisbane Chorale, Queensland Choir, Brisbane Chamber Choir, Canticum Chamber Choir, Brisbane Concert Choir, Imogen Children's Chorale and Brisbane Birralee Voices. Due to the lack of a suitable purpose built performance venue for choral music, these choirs typically perform in the city's many churches.

Brisbane has maintained a constantly evolving live music scene, producing acts spanning genres including punk (see Brisbane punk rock), indie rock, electronic music, experimental music, noise rock, metal and post-punk. Brisbane's live music history is often intertwined with social unrest and authoritarian politics, as retold by journalist Andrew Stafford in Pig City: From The Saints to Savage Garden, Radical Brisbane: An Unruly History, edited by academics Raymond Evans and Carole Ferrier, and BNE – The Definitive Archive: Brisbane Independent Electronic Music Production 1979–2014, produced by record label director Dennis Remmer.[118][119]

Along with Beijing, Berlin, Birmingham and Marseille, Brisbane was nominated as one of the Top 5 International Music Hotspots by Billboard in 2007. There are also popular entertainment pubs and clubs within both the City and Fortitude Valley.[120][121]

Musicians from Brisbane include the following:


Brisbane has hosted several major sporting events including the 1982 Commonwealth Games and the 2001 Goodwill Games, as well as events during the 1987 Rugby World Cup, 1992 Cricket World Cup, 2000 Sydney Olympics, 2003 Rugby World Cup, 2008 Rugby League World Cup and 2018 Commonwealth Games. It holds the Brisbane International tennis competition every year.

Rugby league is popular in Brisbane and the city hosts the Brisbane Broncos, who play in the National Rugby League competition and the Queensland Maroons who play in the State of Origin series.

Rugby union is also popular and the city hosts the Queensland Reds who play in the Super Rugby league.

Cricket is popular in the Brisbane and the city hosts the Brisbane Heat who play in the Big Bash League and the Queensland Bulls who play in the Sheffield Shield and the Ryobi One Day Cup.

Brisbane also hosts an A-League soccer team, the Brisbane Roar FC, an Australian Football League team, the Brisbane Lions, a basketball team, the Brisbane Bullets, a baseball team, the Brisbane Bandits, a netball team, the Queensland Firebirds, a field hockey team, the Brisbane Blaze and water polo teams the Brisbane Barracudas and Queensland Breakers.

The city's major stadiums and sporting venues include the Gabba, Lang Park, Ballymore Stadium, Queensland Sport and Athletics Centre, the Sleeman Centre (swimming), the State Tennis Centre and the Eagle Farm Racecourse.

In addition to its flagship sport franchises, Brisbane and its regions and suburbs have numerous teams in secondary leagues including the Intrust Super Cup, National Rugby Championship, Queensland Premier Rugby, National Premier League Queensland, North East Australian Football League, National Basketball League, ANZ Championship, Australian Baseball League, Hockey One, National Water Polo League and F-league.

Annual events

Major cultural events in Brisbane include the Royal Queensland Exhibition (known locally as the Ekka), an agricultural exhibition held each August, and the Brisbane Festival, which includes one of the nation's largest annual fireworks displays called 'Riverfire', and which is held each September at South Bank Parklands and surrounding areas. The Brisbane International Film Festival (BIFF) is held in July/August in a variety of venues around Brisbane. BIFF features new films and retrospectives by domestic and international filmmakers along with seminars and awards.

There also many smaller community events such as the Buddha Birth Day festival at South Bank parklands which attracts over 200,000 visitors each year,[122][123] the Paniyiri festival (a Greek cultural festival held over two days in May), the Brisbane Medieval Fayre and Tournament (held each June), the Bridge to Brisbane charity fun run the Caxton Street Seafood and Wine Festival.

Cultural references

Brisbane is featured in music including The Saints' "Brisbane (Security City)" (1978); The Stranglers' "Nuclear Device" (1979) about Joh Bjelke-Petersen; "Love You Brisbane" theme single from the 1980s;[124] Midnight Oil's single "Dreamworld" (1987); Powderfinger's album Vulture Street (2003).

Tourism and recreation

Tourism plays a major role in Brisbane's economy, being the third-most popular destination for international tourists after Sydney and Melbourne.[125] Popular tourist and recreation areas in Brisbane include the South Bank Parklands, the City Botanic Gardens, Roma Street Parkland, New Farm Park, Brisbane Forest Park, the Howard Smith Wharves, the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, the Teneriffe woolstore district, Fortitude Valley, West End, City Hall, the Parliament of Queensland, St John's Cathedral, Mount Coot-tha, which houses a lookout, the Botanic Gardens and the Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium, and the Queensland Cultural Centre, which houses the Queensland Museum, Queensland Performing Arts Centre, Queensland Art Gallery, the Gallery of Modern Art and the State Library of Queensland.

Brisbane is notable for its floating Brisbane Riverwalk, which runs along and floats over the Brisbane River for many kilometres around the central business district and inner suburbs. Brisbane also has over 27 km (17 mi) of bicycle pathways, mostly surrounding the Brisbane River and city centre. Other popular recreation activities include the Story Bridge adventure climb and rock climbing at the Kangaroo Point Cliffs.

Moreton Bay is also a major attraction, and its three primary islands Moreton Island, North Stradbroke Island and Bribie Island, accessible by ferry, contain popular surf beaches. Tangalooma resort on Moreton Island is popular for its nightly wild dolphin feeding attraction, and for operating Australia's longest running whale watching cruises. Beachside suburbs such as Wynnum, Manly and the Redcliffe Peninsula are also popular attractions for their bayside beaches, piers, and infrastructure for boating, sailing and fishing.

Immediately to the south and north of Brisbane are the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast respectively, which are home to several of Australia's most popular swimming and surfing beaches, and are popular day and weekend destinations for Brisbanites.

In 2015, a competition by travel guidebook Rough Guides saw Brisbane elected as one of the top ten most beautiful cities in the world, citing reasons such as "its winning combination of high-rise modern architecture, lush green spaces and the enormous Brisbane River that snakes its way through the centre before emptying itself into the azure Moreton Bay."[126]



Brisbane has an extensive transportation network within the city, as well as connections to regional centres, interstate and to overseas destinations. Like all Australian cities, the most popular mode of transport is private car.[127]

Public transport is provided by rail, bus and ferry services and is co-ordinated by TransLink, which provides a unified ticketing and electronic payment system for South East Queensland. Bus services are operated by public and private operators whereas trains and ferries are operated by public agencies. The Brisbane central business district (CBD) is the central hub for all public transport services with services focusing on Roma Street and Central railway stations, King George Square busway station and various city ferries wharves including the Eagle Street Pier ferry wharf.

The Queensland Rail City network consists of 10 suburban lines and 152 stations across the metropolitan area and extending to the Gold and Sunshine coasts. It also provides the route for an Airtrain service under joint public/private control between the City and Brisbane Airport. The Cross River Rail project includes a twin rail tunnel (5.9 kilometres (3.7 mi) long) which will pass under the Brisbane River to link two new railway stations at Albert Street in the Brisbane CBD and Wooloongabba; the project commenced in September 2017 with completion planned for 2024.[128]

Brisbane also has a large dedicated bus rapid transit network, the Brisbane busway network, including the South East Busway, Northern Busway and the Eastern Busway. TransLink operates an integrated ticketing system across the public transport network.

Brisbane's CityCat high speed ferry service, popular with tourists and commuters, operates services along the Brisbane River between the University of Queensland and Northshore Hamilton.

The Brisbane River has created a barrier to some road transport routes. In total there are ten road bridges over the river, mostly concentrated in the inner city area. The largest of these are the Story Bridge and the Sir Leo Hielscher Bridges. There are also three railway bridges and two pedestrian bridges. The Eleanor Schonell Bridge is for use by buses, pedestrians and cyclists. The three Houghton Highway bridges, over Bramble Bay between Brighton and the Redcliffe Peninsula, are the longest bridges in the state.

Brisbane is served by several urban and inter-urban motorways. The Pacific Motorway connects the central city with the Gold Coast to the south. The Ipswich Motorway connects the city with Ipswich to the west via the southern suburbs, while the Western Freeway and the Centenary Motorway provide a connection between Brisbane's inner-west and the outer south-west, connecting with the Ipswich Motorway south of the Brisbane River. The Bruce Highway is Brisbane's main route north of the city to the rest of the State. The Gateway Motorway is a private toll road which connects the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coasts by providing an alternate route via the Gateway Bridge avoiding Brisbane's inner city area. The Port of Brisbane Motorway links the Gateway to the Port of Brisbane, while Inner City Bypass and the Riverside Expressway act as the inner ring freeway system to prevent motorists from travelling through the city's congested centre.[129] Brisbane also has a large network of major road tunnels under the metropolitan area, known as the TransApex network, which include the Clem Jones Tunnel, the Airport Link tunnel and the Legacy Way tunnel.

An extensive network of pedestrian and cyclist pathways span along the banks of the Brisbane River in the central business district and inner suburbs to form the Riverwalk network.[130]

Brisbane Airport (IATA code: BNE) is the city's main airport, the third busiest in Australia after Sydney Airport and Melbourne Airport. It is located north-east of the city centre on Moreton Bay and provides domestic and international passenger services. In the 2017, Brisbane Airport handled 23 million passengers.[131] The airport is served by the Brisbane Airtrain, which provides a rail service from Brisbane's city centre to and from the airport. Archerfield Airport (in Brisbane's southern suburbs) acts as a general aviation airport.

Brisbane is also served by other major airports in South East Queensland, including Gold Coast Airport at Coolangatta, Sunshine Coast Airport at Marcoola and Toowoomba Wellcamp Airport at Wellcamp.


Water storage, treatment and delivery for Brisbane is handled by SEQ Water, which sells on to Queensland Urban Utilities (previously Brisbane Water) for distribution to the greater Brisbane area. Water for the area is stored in one of three dams; Wivenhoe, Somerset and North Pine.

There is an open market in relation to the supply of electricity and gas in Brisbane with the largest providers being Energex (electricity) and Origin Energy (gas).

Metropolitan Brisbane is serviced by all major and most minor telecommunications companies and their networks, including Telstra, Optus and Vodafone Australia.


Brisbane is covered by Queensland Health's "Metro North" and "Metro South" health services.[132] Within the greater Brisbane area there are eight major public hospitals, four major private hospitals, and numerous smaller public and private facilities. Specialist and general medical practices are located in the CBD, and most suburbs and localities.

The largest of the major public hospitals include the Mater Hospital, the Princess Alexandra Hospital, the Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee Hospital, the Queensland Children's Hospital and the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital.



The main newspapers of Brisbane are The Courier-Mail and The Sunday Mail, both owned by News Corporation. Brisbane receives the national daily, The Australian, and the Weekend Australian (also both News Corp), together with Fairfax papers The Australian Financial Review, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, and Fairfax website Brisbane Times. There are community and suburban newspapers throughout the metropolitan area, including Brisbane News and City News, many of which are produced by Quest Community Newspapers. The former free afternoon paper mX was distributed in Brisbane from 2007 until its closing in 2015.


Brisbane is served by all five major television networks in Australia, which broadcast from the summit of Mount Coot-tha. The three commercial stations, Seven, Nine, and Ten, are accompanied by two government networks, ABC and SBS, with all five providing digital television. Channels available in addition to ABC, Seven, Nine, Network 10 and SBS include 10 Bold, 10 Peach, TVSN, Spree TV, ABC HD (ABC broadcast in HD), ABC COMEDY/KIDS, ABC ME, ABC News, SBS HD (SBS broadcast in HD), SBS Viceland, SBS Viceland HD (SBS Viceland broadcast in HD), Food Network, NITV, 7HD (Seven broadcast in HD), 7Two, 7mate, 7flix, TV4ME, RACING.COM, 9HD (Nine broadcast in HD), 9Gem, 9Go!, 9Life and eXtra. 31, a community station, also broadcasts in Brisbane. Optus and Foxtel operate PayTV services in Brisbane, via cable and satellite means.


Brisbane is serviced by major commercial radio stations, including 4KQ, 4BC, 4BH, 97.3 FM, HIT 105 FM, Nova 106.9, RadioTAB and Triple M. Brisbane is also serviced by major community radio stations such as 96five Family FM, 4MBS Classic FM 103.7, 4EB FM and 4ZZZ 102.1. It is also serviced by narrowcast radio stations such as Chinese National Radio and Vision Christian Radio.[133] Additional channels are also available via DAB digital radio. The ABC transmits all five of its radio networks to Brisbane; 612 ABC Brisbane, ABC Classic FM, ABC NewsRadio, Radio National, and Triple J. SBS broadcasts its national radio network.

612 ABC Brisbane 612 AM Australian Broadcasting Corporation
4KQ 693 AM Australian Radio Network
ABC Radio National 792 AM Australian Broadcasting Corporation
Magic 882 882 AM Macquarie Media
ABC NewsRadio 936 AM Australian Broadcasting Corporation
Radio TAB 1008 AM UBET
4BC 1116 AM Macquarie Media
Switch 1197 1197 AM Brisbane Interactive Radio Group
4RPH 1296 AM Queensland Radio for the Print Handicapped
Radio Arabic 1647 AM
VAC Radio 1656 AM Radio Chinese Australia
Radio Brisvaani 1701 AM (Indian, Hindi)
SBS Radio 93.3 FM Special Broadcasting Service
River 94.9 94.9 FM Grant Broadcasters
96five 96.5 FM Family Radio
97.3 97.3 FM Australian Radio Network and NOVA Entertainment
4EB 98.1 FM Ethnic Broadcasting Association of Queensland
98.9 FM 98.9 FM Brisbane Indigenous Media Association
4ZZZ 102.1 FM Creative Broadcasters
4MBS 103.7 FM Music Broadcasting Society of Queensland
Triple M 104.5 FM Southern Cross Austereo
HIT 105 105.3 FM Southern Cross Austereo
ABC Classic FM 106.1 FM Australian Broadcasting Corporation
Nova 106.9 106.9 FM NOVA Entertainment
Triple J 107.7 FM Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Notable people

See also


  1. Sources: Queensland Treasury (1826-1891), Australian Bureau of Statistics (1901 onwards). Capital cities based on Greater Capital City Statistical Areas (GCCSAs) for 1971 onwards. Populations for previous years are based on earlier boundaries and may be inconsistent with GCCSAs. Pre-1971 may not include the Indigenous population.
  2. In accordance with the Australian Bureau of Statistics source, England, Scotland, Mainland China and the Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and Macau are listed separately
  3. As a percentage of 2,122,578 persons who nominated their ancestry at the 2016 census.
  4. The Australian Bureau of Statistics has stated that most who nominate "Australian" as their ancestry are part of the Anglo-Celtic group.[93]
  5. Of any ancestry. Includes those identifying as Aboriginal Australians or Torres Strait Islanders. Indigenous identification is separate to the ancestry question on the Australian Census and persons identifying as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander may identify any ancestry.
  6. Of any ancestry. Includes those identifying as Aboriginal Australians or Torres Strait Islanders. Indigenous identification is separate to the ancestry question on the Australian Census and persons identifying as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander may identify any ancestry.


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