Brisbane scores with sports-mad families
If I'm being honest, I'm not the biggest AFL fan but I always jump at the chance to watch top-flight live sport.
On this occasion, I got the chance to take my wife and two daughters - aged five and three - to watch the Brisbane Lions play at the Gabba.
My eldest and I had been to a Queensland Reds game at the wonderful Suncorp Stadium about a year ago and actually got to see them win a game, which is rare these days.
This time around was the first time my whole family got to a game together and it was so much fun.
First of all, Brisbane is a great city to visit - we sampled loads of good food around our hotel in Milton and in the city, we always love the South Bank museums and galleries and just wandering around is exciting for the kids as there is always a balloon artist, live band, juggler or some kind of fun in Queen Street Mall.
Secondly - and probably most importantly for sports fans - the Gabba is an awesome venue.
It is the Lions' home ground but it is also Brisbane's premier cricket ground that plays host to international and domestic matches.
There are no bad seats in the house, with the Colosseum-style stadium keeping everyone close to the action.
We had VIP tickets, which meant access to the members' lounge.
No food or beverages were included but getting a cold drink or hot snack was easy and comfortable and the lounge was a good space for the kids to stretch their legs when they lost interest in the game.
Because all seats are so close to the action and visibility is excellent, the atmosphere is electric.
The Lions started slowly in our game but finished the third quarter strongly to get the lead, which they held on to in the fourth, which meant the vast majority of the crowd was very vocal and cheering.
My kids didn't really understand what was happening on the field but when everyone around them started cheering and clapping, they did the same with big smiles on their faces. As a sports-mad dad, it was so good to get my family to a game and see them get enjoyment out of seeing supreme athletes do their thing.
I am sure it won't be our last.
Whether you are going to the game with your family or with a group of mates, getting around Brisbane is easy.
For my family's trip to the Gabba to watch the Lions run over the top of the Melbourne Demons, we stayed at The Milton, funnily enough in the suburb of Milton.
Suncorp Stadium, the home of rugby league, rugby union and soccer, is in Milton and The Milton would be no more than a five-minute walk from the stadium.
At first I thought this was a strange place to stay for an AFL match, because the Gabba was across the other side of the city, but how wrong I was.
We left our hotel about 9am and walked for five minutes (without a three-year-old and five-year-old it would have been three minutes) to the nearby City Cat stop.
We took this to South Bank for a morning of science play at the Queensland Museum and Science Centre - the SparkLab exhibit was great for the kids. From there we walked across the bridge to the CBD for lunch at New Shanghai in Queens Plaza.
Once stuffed full of dumplings, we made our way to the free (if you have a Lions ticket) shuttle buses that run from the city to the Gabba.
After the match, we hopped on another free bus (about a 20-minute wait as hundreds of people were doing the same) to Central Station and caught a train to Milton - the station was right beside the hotel.
We were not sure how easily all this would be done with two young children but it was a breeze and the kids loved all the different experiences in the big city.
IF YOU GO
There is no shortage of food and drink options in Milton. Park Rd is a noted foodie spot, with cheap and expensive options in what seems like nearly all cuisines. There are also bars and coffee shops aplenty. For the beer lovers, Aether Brewery is right next door to The Milton.
MORE TO LOVE
If you love sport, you will love Brisbane - it is that simple.
The four football codes are obviously big drawcards - the Broncos (NRL), Reds (Super Rugby), Roar (A-League soccer) and Lions (AFL) all call Brisbane home.
The Lions play at the Gabba, while the other three play at Suncorp Stadium, arguably the country's best football stadium.
The Gabba is also an international-standard cricket ground, home to international and domestic matches in all formats.
The Bullets have returned to the National Basketball League and play out of the Brisbane Entertainment Centre.
Then there is the Brisbane International tennis tournament held every January, which draws in massive-name players who are preparing for the Australian Open.
There are multiple golf courses for all skill levels, the Brisbane Aquatic Centre is a world-class swimming venue, the Anna Meares Velodrome is an amazing track cycling venue and the list goes on.
So no matter your chosen sport, Brisbane will have you covered.
The writer was a guest of Oaks Hotels
The Milton Brisbane
55 Railway Tce, Milton