Brisbane Christmas Gift Help - Dificulty Level: Antipodes
December 18, 2013 10:42 AM   Subscribe

My brother is going to depart for Brisbane (the one that isn't near San Francisco) to do a postdoc in invertebrate biology about 15 minutes after Christmas and is pretty much taking everything he's going to take as check luggage. While the $100 note has that cool Lyrebird graphic and is easy to pack, it seems somewhat unimaginative.

What can I get him that he can put in his wallet, he can retrieve on line, or will be there waiting for him when he arrives. I'm guessing that he will not be equipped to cook for a couple days, so gift certificates to local restaurants (near the University of Queensland) might be a good idea but I know as much about the culinary and social scene in Brisbane as I do about any other place that is 9000 miles away.

Oh, and did I mention he's currently on a boat near Antarctica and, last I heard, not 100% sure of what his address will be when he get's there?

Any Australia people willing to hold my hand on this?
posted by Kid Charlemagne to Shopping (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Brisbane in summer is hot. How about UQ pool membership, or a gift pass to Wet n Wild on the Gold Coast. Or to a surf store, or a Sunglass Hut?
posted by dontjumplarry at 11:11 AM on December 18, 2013

You know, people always say they don't want to give cash. But have you ever been mad about receiving cash? I sure haven't. Cash is great.
posted by miskatonic at 11:22 AM on December 18, 2013 [4 favorites]


Ideally gift cards that can be used in Australia and redeemed at stores they actually have there, for things he will need.

I moved cross-country (not internationally) and stockpiled every random Christmas/birthday/office bonus gift card I got for about a year prior. It was nice to arrive at my new destination with ready cash for new home things.

If there is a company that has branches worldwide and where you can make sure that gift cards issued in one country will be accepted internationally, get that. (IKEA comes to mind for this.) If that's not feasible, I would do one of the Amex type cash cards. But just make sure that they're usable outside the US.

Buying gift cards for Brisbane area stores he'll find useful would also be great, if that's possible to accomplish internationally.

Are Amazon and iTunes credits internationally interchangeable?
posted by Sara C. at 11:42 AM on December 18, 2013

David Jones is a large department store in Australia. You can buy gift certificates and have them delivered via email.
posted by third word on a random page at 12:03 PM on December 18, 2013

If $100 seems unimaginative, why not give two $50s?
posted by oceanjesse at 2:31 PM on December 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

Are Amazon and iTunes credits internationally interchangeable?

iTunes credit is not interchangable.

Amazon's not typically a good deal for Australians these days. Their shipping prices are high and they refuse to ship a lot of products here. For books, send your brother to Book Depository, which has great prices and free shipping from the UK. Locally, Dymocks for books and JB for other media.

David Jones and Myer are the big Australia department stores, but assuming your brother's number one need is going to be affordable homewares, I'd be learning towards a gift card for either Target or Peters's of Kensington. Target has the cheap stuff; Peter's has the better stuff for good prices but because they're in Sydney it'll take a few days to reach him.

In general, everything's going to be more expensive in Australia that he's used to at home.
posted by Georgina at 3:08 PM on December 18, 2013

If you get on to it this week, you maybe able to buy a gift card for this popular UQ coffee shop on campus - Bar Merlot.

And as mentioned above Queensland Attraction passes.

What does he like? Will he have any time off to travel? Does he drink? You could get him a case of nice boutique Australian wine delivered for a little over $100.
posted by Kerasia at 3:32 PM on December 18, 2013

David Jones / Myer are pretty ritzy. I would not be getting my basic home goods from there, I would be going to Target or The Good Guys for electrics. Understanding that the chap is an international grad student, I have a feeling he's getting his plates from Target rather than Peter's of Kensington?

You can get Coles Group + Myer gift cards - because the Coles group owns most things, they will be valid for Coles (supermarket) Target, Kmart, officeworks, bottle shops, and Myer. You're covering most bases that way. All of these shops are readily accessible near UQ, and Indooroopilly shopping centre is close. (I would have also recommended a gift card for that centre, but it looks like you can only get them in person?)

Coffee? Getting the best coffee is a competitive sport in Australian workplaces. You can load up a Merlo's card for the lad, or a pile of Union vouchers which will get one food at a variety of UQ establishments.

Public transport is expensive so if you can pre-load a Go Card (public transport smart card) in time to give it to him before he's on the plane that would be nice. Otherwise he'll be able to get one at the airport.

Seconding how hot it will be.

I'm not sure what restaurants around there have gift cards - we have dominos, they are my pick for delivered pizza in the area.
posted by chiquitita at 3:34 PM on December 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

Oh, as a former BrisVegan who visited home recently - a preloaded Go Card is a great idea! Was a bit startled by the cost of transport after a few years away, and I live in London! But I am not sure if you can buy it overseas?

But TBH, cash is the best idea. Having hosted post grads and working with foreign post grads at work, it's nice to not be limited.
posted by ozgirlabroad at 3:51 PM on December 18, 2013

The UQ pool pass (or pool and fitness centre - the gym is great) is a brilliant idea! It will be so hot and sweaty in December and January. The membership prices are online here. If you're looking for shops and restaurants, the two big shopping centres closest to UQ (I'm assuming he's at St Lucia) are Toowong Village and Indooroopilly Shopping Town. Toowong is probably slightly closer and has better/more frequent transport than Indro. The closest little shopping village is at St Lucia about 10-15 mins walk from the campus. There's a Coles there and lots of little restaurants and cafes. The Go Card is also an awesome idea - he'll be able to use it on busses, trains and ferries. The City Cat ferry goes to the St Lucia campus and you spending a couple of hours going up and down the Brisbane river on it is a really nice way to spend time in summer. It stops at Toowong, West End and the CBD before heading on to New Farm and Bulimba, all of which are nice places to get off and walk around. The theme park attractions are actually on the Gold Coast, which is a bit of a hike by bus or train. They will be packed and pretty awful at this time of year too.
posted by t0astie at 4:02 PM on December 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

I third the GoCard - even if it's just cash and information on what he needs to do to get one. It will make arriving in a new city so much easier.

I currently live in Brisbane and am happy to answer any questions he/you may have via memail.
posted by latch24 at 5:23 PM on December 18, 2013

There's a website called It allows you to search by city + state + general category (e.g. leisure, dining) + gender + price range. If all else fails, it offers a 'universal gift certificate'. Check it out!

If I was your brother, I'd be overjoyed with one of those rolled up inside a care package of: some smaller-denomination Aussie notes for when he arrives at the airport, a small tube of high-SPF sunscreen, a stubbie-holder (or whatever you guys call the thing that keeps your beer cold/hand warm :)), and some yummy snacks from home to eat on the plane.
posted by Salamander at 5:32 PM on December 18, 2013

You could buy him a book from the Co Op bookshop (has many branches at universities all over Australia, so you want the St Lucia campus one), and specify that it's to be picked up in-store (i.e. by him). When you buy a book online, they ask if you want it posted or as an in-store pickup.

Also, UQ has a particularly nice cafe next to the bookstore, called 'Wordsmiths'. He will definitely spend time there! You could try contacting them to see if you can buy him credit for a dozen coffees or something like that?
posted by JeanDupont at 5:04 AM on December 19, 2013

You can get gift cards for supermarkets over there. I send my mother ones regularly from the "Woolworths" chain, you can get ones that will also work in "Big W" stores as well which is part of the same chain. Unlike in the US supermarkets usually just sell food, groceries etc. With one of those cards he could easily buy groceries and any little bit's he needs. They do however need an address of some sort to mail to.
posted by wwax at 1:18 PM on December 19, 2013

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