Give me Brisbane any day

No wonder it’s so easy to fall in love with Brisbane.

Give me Brisbane any day

Having recently been voted by Lonely Planet as Australia’s coolest city, the Brisbane scene is well and truly ‘on the up’. As Australia’s third-largest city, Queensland’s capital is enjoying something akin to a renaissance over the past few years, with its focus on developing a ‘new world city’ and an aim to becoming the gateway to Asia.

I recently visited Brisbane for the first time and, although I only spent a weekend there, I did not want to leave – there is just so much to like about Brisbane.

With a climate that rarely dips below 20 degrees, it’s a perfect place for outdoor types and holidaymakers. The warmer weather not only makes for a great getaway at any time of the year, it also means the locals are seemingly always in a good mood. No wonder, with such a beautiful city in which to play around.

Brisbane’s ‘laidbackedness’ is quite possibly its most endearing trait. The city itself is very pretty indeed, notably low-lying and, being built along the banks of the Brisbane River – quite lush and full of life. The locals are friendly, to the point where, for a while, I was wondering what their ‘angle’ was. Being used to the Melburnian ‘clique’ mentality, it took me a while to get my head around the fact that people can actually be down right friendly for no reason other than to be friendly. Brisbanites, whether in bars or boutiques, are certainly a welcoming bunch, and that hospitality permeates throughout the city and makes it a very nice place to be.

The river is the central thread that runs through the city, but on either side are situated suburbs each with distinct cultures and personalities. Now, I didn’t get to visit each part of the city, but here are some of my favourite areas:

The City and South Bank area is Brisbane’s moneymaking municipality and, perhaps unsurprisingly, the tallest part of town. But this neck of the woods is not all suits and ties – it is also home to some trendy riverside dining and the Eagle Street Pier complex. The CBD is where you’ll find the beautiful Botanic Gardens as well as a host of art galleries throughout its Cultural Centre complex. Queensland Art Gallery and The Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA) is the artistic jewel of Queensland. And the State Library, Town Hall and Queensland Museum provide art and architecture pundits with no shortage of inspiration on their journey through the city. But if you really want to get to know the history and culture, you can always book a free tour with a Brisbane Greeter.

Fortitude Valley is the place to party, and if pubs, cafés, clubs, wine bars and live music is your bag, then this is where you need to be. Known as Brisbane’s entertainment precinct, the valley is also home to the trendy boutiques of Brunswick Street, designer shopping along Ann Street and all the laneways in between. And when you’re done spending your hard earned you can sup on some dumplings or yum cha in Chinatown.

As I said earlier, Brisbane is a beautiful city. And although it’s nice to be able to see the sky from most of the streets, the most amazing views of Brisbane’s boroughs are from up on high – and there’s no better place to take in the vista than from Eleven Rooftop Bar in Fortitude Valley. Eleven gets its name from being a bar that’s 11 stories high, and it’s a newish hotspot that serves light breakfasts and European-style share plates for lunch and dinner, as well as an impressive collection of killer cocktails. But the star of the show is the view. What more can I say but “wow…”

The Valley’s neighbour, New Farm, is the home to slightly more upmarket restaurants and cafés of all persuasions. It is also home to the Powerhouse – a converted power station that is now a cultural hotspot which features an outdoor cinema, as well as live music, comedy and theatre, and a farmers market.

And on the other side of the valley you’ll find Newstead, home to one of Brisbane’s first craft breweries, Newstead Brewing Co, which produces quite possibly the nicest Amber Ale (and many other fine brews) that I’ve ever put to my lips (and beyond). The brewery also doubles as a restaurant, and one of my big regrets was that I didn’t return to sample its culinary delights. If the beer was any indication of what the food would be like, then I certainly missed out.  (Oh, and if you ask the bar staff nicely, they might whip you up a beer affogato – trust me, it’s truly lip-smacking!) 

The reason I did miss out was because I headed around the corner to Tippler’s Tap – an American-styled craft beer bar that stocks some damn fine beers on tap, as well as an awesome array of bottled frothy delights. If you do visit the Tap, make sure you try the hot wings with blue cheese sauce – they are simply amazing and the perfect compliment to the Modus Operandi Red IPA, which, if you’re lucky, will be on tap at the time.

The best part of Brissy is, you can stay in the middle of the city and see so much within 5–6km walking distance either way. You don’t even need a car; in fact, driving around town can be a bit of a challenge due to Brisbane’s suburbs being split by waterways. The best way to get around Brisbane is to hop on the free (yes, free) CityHopper ferry service along the river, then hop off near to your destination and leg it. It may not be the fastest way to travel, but it’s great for seeing the city and besides, after all the beers and hot wings, the exercise will surely do you no harm. (In fact, when you look around town, you’ll see that the residents are very attractive and, well, quite ‘fit’ – it’s no wonder with all that walking!).

Brisbane has well outgrown its ‘BrisVegas’ moniker and has evolved into an urban hotspot of culture, cafés, craft beer and, for want of a better word: cool. Its vibrant city scene and positive energy, coupled with its welcoming climate and townsfolk, make Brisbane a ‘different’ kind of cool to the hipster haven that is Melbourne, and the self-involved ‘sophistication’ iconic of Sydney, which, in my opinion, is a good thing. In fact, the best way to describe this ‘new world city’ is that it is a good thing – in every sense of the word.

So, snag yourself some cheap flights, pack your bags and make a beeline for Brisbane. You will not be disappointed.

For more information about Brisbane, please visit www.visitbrisbane.com.au or www.queensland.com, or check out #brisbaneanyday and #thisisqueensland tags on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.





    COMMENTS

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    MICK
    10th Oct 2015
    7:51am
    You went in winter didn't you Leon? Go in summer and you'll find that the 100% humidity will kill you: hot, can't sweat, unbearably uncomfortable all of the time.
    Horses for courses. We tried it decades ago and could not cope.
    Emps
    10th Oct 2015
    10:53am
    Mick, after being in Brissy over 40 years, i'm still alive as thousands of other locals are. The heat and humidity?, we cope quite well, in fact we like it ,,, we just know how to exist with it. We do have aircon for indoors as most private and public buildings do, and transport.

    Southerners really do amuse us with their whinging about our climate when on holiday up here; but they still come in hoards to enjoy our sub and tropical environment.

    I think most of the complaints are based on envy, because so many would love to move up to Queensland, it is not always so possible, because of employment, and other lifestyle commitments locked in where they already live.

    We here feel so privileged to enjoy our enviable lifestyle in Brisbane and South East Queensland as a whole.

    Of course it is our laid back approach to most things, such as our beautiful climate, that, as Leon points out, makes us a friendly bunch, where we can retain our identities unlike the big cities down south wherein folks quickly lose theirs.
    roy
    10th Oct 2015
    11:42am
    Well said, most southerners are just jealous of our outdoor life style 24/7/365(almost).
    MICK
    10th Oct 2015
    2:36pm
    Funny. I thought that the southerners who headed north were escapees from the over-priced Sydney and Melbourne housing markets.
    No jealousy Emps. Seriously. I can afford to live anywhere I like (almost) but could not survive in Queensland. Sydney is the most temperate place in the country and I'll probably stay put.
    Good that you like where you live but please explain about "air conditioning". We rarely use ours here and normally open windows for a sea breeze. Superb!
    Instead of having a go at "southerners" have a swipe at Kiwis. I cannot believe how many come to Brisbane. Must be something in the water there.
    As I said, horses for courses.
    roy
    10th Oct 2015
    9:59pm
    I would quite like to live in Sydney but sadly my Arabic is not up to scratch yet.
    MICK
    10th Oct 2015
    10:06pm
    Its getting that way in Sydney. I'm lucky enough to have a choice and would not live anywhere near some of the Islamic enclaves. I'd love to send Hanson-Young to live in Auburn so that she is educated. No hope of that.
    So you do not have an issue in Brissy?
    Vickbenla
    10th Oct 2015
    5:44pm
    I lived in inner City Brisbane for 18 years, loved it when I first moved there, but it became too trendy & busy for my liking. My suburb Spring Hill, became gentrified & lost a lot of its character, the same goes for the Valley & New Farm. Too many overpriced trendy eateries which come & go weekly. I live on the South Coast of NSW now, much better climate & not a bearded barista to be seen (yet)
    MICK
    10th Oct 2015
    10:08pm
    Change is happening all over. Nothing stays the same. You have a nice spot to see out your years so enjoy. You are spot on about the climate.
    jpalin
    11th Oct 2015
    11:21am
    I totally agree with Leon about Brisbane. If it gets too hot there in summer then it's just a short ride either south (to Gold Coast) or north (to Sunshine Coast) where you'll find all the breezes you want, plus the best beaches in the world!
    SkyJewels
    16th Oct 2015
    1:23pm
    Lived on Sunshine Coast, needed air con on for 10 months of the year, electricity bill was huge. Now live on South Coast NSW and the climate is perfect, four distinct seasons, highly recommend!


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