It helps that it is always sunny, but the reality is that it is not just the warm weather that has led to a surge in meetings, conferences and events being held in southern Queensland.
Whether you are planning a function or meeting, a cocktail or gala dinner, a trade show or a launch, both Brisbane and the Gold Coast have all the services and facilities covered.
Brisbane event facilities
The Celebration of Lifesaving Gala Ball and the Cystic Fibrosis Queensland Gala Ball are just two of the many events being held by not-for-profits at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre (BCEC) this year.
Since opening in 1995, the BCEC has received 98 industry awards, making it the most awarded convention centre in Australia. Soon it will also be one of the largest convention centres, with a $130 million
expansion recently approved by the Queensland Government, enabling the BCEC to meet the increasing international and national demand for its facilities.
Located riverside in the Cultural Precinct near South Bank, the BCEC contains 21 multi-functional meeting and event spaces including the Great Hall auditorium (which is divisible into quadrants), the Plaza Ballroom, two boardrooms, ancillary rooms, and four exhibition halls.
Taking full advantage of the Plaza Ballroom, the Cystic Fibrosis Ball is the premier corporate entertainment and charity event in Brisbane, attracting more than 50 leading companies and over 600 guests from the corporate, entertainment and sporting world.
With the capacity to cater for such large crowds, the BCEC is often the first port of call for groups looking to stage a major event, however there are other options that can be explored.
One of the biggest sites in Brisbane is the RNA Showgrounds, offering over 30 versatile venues on 22 hectares of land adjacent to Brisbane’s CBD. Although unavailable for ten days every August due to the Royal Queensland Show (the “Ekka”), the rest of the year the RNA Showgrounds is available to host a range of special events including conferences, functions and conventions.
Choosing the right venue to host an important meeting or conference can require some research, but local Brisbane hotels such as Royal on the Park, Rydges, The Chifley, The Marque Hotel, The Marriott, The Hilton, Novotel and Stamford all have excellent meeting facilities and some are even able to cater for small exhibitions. These hotels can also provide accommodation on-site which is very convenient for attendees.
Gold Coast event facilities
A bustling metropolis with a relaxed surf atmosphere – it is not surprising that the Gold Coast is a hit with event planners.
The Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre (GCCEC) is the largest facility of its kind in the city and regularly hosts local and interstate events.
“We have an association with Kurrawa Surf Life Saving Club who attend our Melbourne Cup function and use the event to raise money and awareness for their charity,” says Communications Manager of the GCCEC, Kate Hickson.
She says that last month they also hosted the Great Gatsby Dinner Dance, sponsored by Griffith University to raise money for the Hope for Health charity. GCCEC has hosted this dance in previous years with Griffith University sponsoring Garner and the Royal Flying Doctors Service.
This year’s Pan Pacific Masters Games is set to be one of the biggest events for the GCCEC. For the duration of the games, the GCCEC will feature live nightly entertainment, a sports expo, fully catered hospitality, and a venue for the Games sportspeople to socialise, meet up and enjoy the camaraderie the event is renowned for.
With 10,000 square metres of exhibition space, 6,345 square metres of exhibition halls and a 6,000 seat arena, the GCCEC is clearly capable of hosting large scale events, but it also specialises in smaller meetings. The 15 meeting rooms in the complex cater for between 10 and 200 guests and are ideal for conferences.
Conrad Jupiters is another larger venue option on the Gold Coast with the casino offering an array of meetings and event options to suit all occasions and budgets. With over 13 different meeting rooms of varying sizes, the largest of which holding 2,300 people, and room for an exhibit with up to 100 booths, accommodation and entertainment on-site, it is little wonder it is a popular choice for many groups.
Other Gold Coast venues that cater to a range of uses include: The Crowne Plaza Royal Pines Golf Resort and Spa, great for a conference and a hit of golf; AVICA Gold Coast, for dinners with up to 100 guests and extensive acreage for marquees and team-building events and activities; Parklands Gold Coast, a stones throw from Surfers Paradise, with six function rooms that can accommodate 40 to 800 guests; and the Skylight Room located on level 78 of the iconic Q1 Building, with its 360 degree views of the city, it is perfect for a memorable gala dinner or cocktail event.
MUST SEE IN Brisbane
The once sleepy Brisbane has morphed into a vibrant, cultured city that is wide awake and ready to wow you.
There was a time when Brisbane was one of the sleepiest capital cities in Australia, but not so today. The cry of ‘all my friends are leaving Brisbane’ is no more, replaced instead by ‘all my friends are moving back.’
Even if you are only there for a weekend, make sure you see the attractions that have helped create such a buzz about this city.
The Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) is an incredible addition to the city. Commissioned in 2002 and located in the Queensland Cultural Centre, which incorporates the Queensland Museum, The Queensland Art Gallery and the Performing Arts Complex, it is one of the Brisbane’s most popular cultural attractions.
On the river
Locals often use them to get to work, but a cruise down the Brisbane River on a CityCat is a must for visitors. Pass under the historic Story Bridge, view million dollar properties, and stop off in popular areas like New Farm, West End and South Bank.
No visit to Brisbane would be complete without a trip to South Bank and a paddle in Streets Beach, Australia’s only beach in the middle of the city. A unique man-made swimming beach complete with sand and lifeguards, Streets Beach overlooks the Brisbane River and Central Business District and is one of South Bank’s most popular attractions.
Only eight kilometres from the CBD is Mt. Cootha which boasts the most spectacular views Brisbane. At the base of the mountain there is an impressive planetarium and the Mt. Cootha Botanic Gardens containing 20,000 species of plants, so why not make an afternoon of it.
They have never heard of the separation of church and state in Queensland, where the religion is Rugby League and Suncorp Stadium is their place of worship. You don’t need to know the rules, just make the pilgrimage to a game, have a pie, a XXXX beer, and be awed by the fanaticism of the Brisbane Broncos fans – this is truly the most authentic Brisbane experience.
MUST SEE ON THE Gold Coast
If you are in town for a conference, meeting or event, why not stay a little longer and check out some of the attractions on the Gold Coast. The second largest city in Queensland, the Gold Coast is a tourist mecca throughout the year and with so much to explore, it is not hard to see why.
Whether you are a novice, or the next Layne Beachley, you will love the swell on the Gold Coast. More experienced riders can head out the back of Kirra Beach or Coolangatta, and those new to the sport can hire a board and have a lesson or two at Surfers Paradise Beach.
Get close to nature and meet over 1,400 different native animals at Currumbin Sanctuary, or trek through the subtropical Gondwana Rainforest and see an amazing array of waterfalls and wildlife.
Have a coffee, take in the street scene and do a spot of shopping on Cavill Avenue, one of the most popular streets in downtown Surfers Paradise.
The famous theme parks located on the Gold Coast are perfect for the young and the young at heart. Movie World, Dreamworld Wet ‘N’ Wild and Sea World are the most famous of the adventure parks and all inclusive passes are available.
If you are an adrenaline junkie, but not so keen on the theme park crowds, then you’ll love paragliding, parasailing, abseiling or hang gliding at various locations around the Gold Coast including Main Beach, Mt Tamborine, Canungra and Mariners Cove.
For what is arguably one of the best views in Australia, hop in the elevator and head straight to floor 78 of Q1, the world’s tallest residential building. On the QDeck have a glass of champagne and soak up the incredible 360 degree views of the city, sea and hinterland.
Springbrook National Park is home to the largest colony of glow worms in Australia. Invisible by day, the glow worms in the Natural Bridge Cave make a stunning display at night, and there are a range of tours available.