Brisbane’s well kept secret ....
It’s busier than Perth, yet Brisbane Airport has a low profile.
After Sydney and Melbourne, Brisbane is the next biggest airport in Australia. By the end of 2011 it broke through the 20 million passenger barrier and it continues to draw more international interest as a direct gateway to tourist havens like Gold Coast and Surfers Paradise.
Brisbane boasts a wide shopping offer - both on and off the airport. The nearby Airport Village (accessible by the inter-terminal buses) is worth a look if you have some spare time before your flight as there are a couple of handy shops.
One is Direct Factory Outlets which offers over 120 Australian and international brands at up to 70% off. Labels include Billabong, Puma, Sheridan, Witchery, Nine West, Levi’s and Country Road. The other store that may be worth a peek is Dan Murphy's, for some interesting liquor ranges with guaranteed lower prices than any store within 10km - excluding the airport’s duty free prices naturally!
Back at the airport the vast bulk of stores are in the international terminal (there are just a couple in domestic departures) so it is here that we are focusing. Biggest of the lot is the F1RST duty free store, a fascia that operates at several airports in Australia.
It is packed with major international brands in departments that span technology, watches, fragrance, cosmetics, sunglasses, souvenirs and more. Liquor tastings are frequent - to get you in the mood - and fashion has had an upgrade and brands now include Guess, Lacoste, Longchamp, Montblanc and Salvatore Ferragamo.
Aside from the main duty free store there are more than a dozen others - but there is very definitely a theme! Shops such as Around Australia, Beach Culture and the Australian Produce Store should give you a subtle hint.
Around Australia’s blue façade has a pharmacy look about it but it is a pretty good spot for souvenir hunting across lines from apparel and food gifts to crafts and toys. It competes with the Australian Produce Store for gifts. This brightly coloured shop has a very wide food offer including Australian wines, export quality abalone, crocodile and kangaroo meat, rainforest honey, macadamia nuts and confectionery. Then there are skincare and health products from brands like Jurlique, Lilly Pilly and Quandong.
Australian Way has a little bit of everything of the two above and additionally boasts authentic handcrafted Aboriginal products. For a wider selection there is also Rainbow Serpent which is packed full of Aboriginal art, craft and design from boomerangs and didgeridoos to sculpture from Bathurst Island and paintings by Aboriginal artists from several states.
Beach Culture is filled with summer wear, from Element shorts, Tigerlily dresses and Havaianas flip flops to sporty accessories like VZ and Oakley sunglasses, Nixon watches and headphones, and Billabong backpacks and wallets. In similar vein, there is Rip Curl, a brand that’s serious about its surfing gear, but which also has products like watches and wallets in some nifty designs.
Still with the Australian theme, Purely Merino carries a diverse range of top notch wool products from labels like Metalicus and Icebreaker. You can also find cashmere and alpaca blends here not to mention Ugg boots, skincare and upscale accessories.
There are two standalone Aussie brands at the airport: Oroton which is really the only luxury label here if you are looking for some understated elegance, And at the opposite end of the spectrum there is RM Williams for those handcrafted boots you always wanted.
Even in the chocolate shop, home grown brands take centre stage. World of Chocolate includes local names like Patons, Ernest Hillier, Dullo, and Chocolatier as well as the boutique brands Anvers, Pink Lady, Ashmores, and Kennedy & Wilson. The European makers extend to Cadbury, Lindt, Anthon Berg, Ferrero Rocher, Mozart, Niederegger, Butlers, Goldkenn, Asbach, Witors and Gavarny. The store is great for gifts as a wrapping service is available.
Once you have done the Aussie trawl there are only three stores left! Carri On has the inside track on luggage as well as local designer handbags. Then there is Sunglass Hut for this season's must-have shades whether you are a Prada or Dolce & Gabbana fashionista or prefer more technical lenses from Ray-Ban and Oakley.
And last but not least, Wear & When has some of the world’s best brands in watches and jewellery at a wide range of price points. Choose from Citizen, Dior, DKNY, Emporio Armani, Fossil, Guess, Gucci, Longines, Lorus, Omega, Raymond Weil, Swatch, Tag Heuer and Tissot - all tax free.