Brisbane’s hilly waterside location is no slouch: flanking the winding Brisbane River, it’s within easy reach of beaches, islands and national parks. If it’s major sights you’re after, make for the CBD and South Bank arts complex across the river, but base yourself in edgier inner north district Fortitude Valley for maximum buzz. South of Brisbane, discover the beachy Gold Coast and its rugged mountains and valleys; don’t leave without exploring the watery, wonderful Noosa Everglades by canoe or kayak.

Spotlight on: the Noosa Everglades

Not many things can say they’ve remain unchanged for thousands of years – the Noosa Everglades – hidden away in the Great National Park’s colour-rich Cooloola section – can. The Everglades belongs to the Noosa Biosphere Reserve, which spans 150,000 hectares of land and sea; it’s the only river system in Australia that has its entire upper catchment protected in National Park. The best way to explore the Everglades is by canoe or kayak; embark on a guided or self-guided tour with Kanu Kapers...

Smith insider tip #1 Eat at... Hosokawa, which makes a strong case for being the city’s best Japanese restaurant. Canter through an array of little plates, including edamame, pork belly, gyoza, tempura and croquettes.

Don’t miss... the succulent sashimi, thick-cut and mega-fresh.

Smith insider tip #2 Drink at... Archive Beer Boutique, a shrine to Australian craft beer at 100 Boundary Street. Beer-geeks will think they’ve hopped (sorry) to heaven, thanks to 22 constantly rotating draught beers on tap, plus more than 400 bottled beers to sip through. Additional lures include the beer-influenced bistro menu and regular live music nights.

Don’t miss... The bar’s bottle shop, Next Door Cellars: if you liked what you glugged on in Archive, buy some beer to take back home.

Smith insider tip #3 Sleep at... Spicers Balfour Hotel, where you’ll wake up in the arty New Farm/Fortitude Valley quarter (and a big boutique bed, natch) and lose sleep in the view-toting rooftop bar. You’ll fall for the bistro-style restaurant, 1,000-thread-count sheets and prime location: some of the city’s finest shops, bars and galleries are just a short stroll away.

Don’t miss... the hotel’s potent cocktails – a Vesper Lynd or Scarlett O’Hara (Southern Comfort, cranberry and lime), perhaps?

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