No flood, no fire and no famine could have shocked as much as Lonely Planet’s recent announcement that Brisbane is Australia’s coolest city.
Well blow me over with a feather, I now live in what Lonely Planet describes as “arguably Australia’s hippest city” in the latest edition of its travel guide book bible.
It must have come as quite a shock to our southern cousins, Sydney and Melbourne, who have long assumed that they are much cooler and more culturally connected. Stand up Brisbane, you’ve got swag.
Brisbane. Population: a little more than two million people. Famous for the river that runs through it, once hosting the Commonwealth Games and … Gimme a minute …
According to Lonely Planet “booming Brisbane” is perhaps this country’s most under-rated city. There is a “subcultural undercurrent”, it says, citing “cool bookshops, globally inspired restaurants, cafes, bars and band rooms aplenty”.
Hey. Those Lonely Planet folk might just be on to something.
There are a number of suburbs with their own sense of style and taste throughout the ‘River City’, and there is a sense of excitement at uncovering these hidden gems.
Take West End, with its bohemian feel and Mediterranean dining — it’s an escape into another world almost. Here is an overwhelming casualness, where time matters little and residents mingle with visitors over coffee at one of the many sidewalk eateries.
It’s a short stroll to the cultural hub of South Bank, with its galleries, museums and libraries. Groups gather around the free barbecues and laughter carries on the wind. During Brisbane Festival (in August/September each year) South Bank and the neighbouring area of Kangaroo Point are abuzz with people; workers, tourists and those who live in the high rise apartments that go almost unnoticed above.
Fitness enthusiasts can run the length of the river in some sort of serenity, with the office buildings of the CBD casting imposing grey shadows from opposite, and those a little more daring can scale the Kangaroo Point cliffs or take an adventure climb of the Story Bridge.
Away from the city’s centre there are the exclusive neighbourhoods of New Farm, Bulimba and Paddington renowned for their boutique shops and an air of sophistication.
The weather, though sometimes unpredictable, is the envy of many. Skies are powdered blue and puffed with white clouds making the many parks and gardens on offer in Brisbane the place to be when heading outdoors. Head to Mount Coot-tha, the site of a state forest, the home of the Brisbane Botanic Gardens that houses the Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium and possible the best view of the city you’ll ever find; pack a picnic and a good book and find yourself a spot under the trees at the Rocks Riverside Park at Seventeen Mile Rocks; or take the family to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, the first of its kind in the world and now more than 85 years in operation. These are just some of the outdoor experiences Brisbane has to offer.
Sure, Brisbane is lacking in a beach — the defining feature of all things ‘Aussie’ — but who really needs it when we are perfectly located between the Gold Coast (take your pick of Broadbeach, Surfers Paradise, Burleigh Heads… shall I go on?) and the Sunshine Coast (Noosa, Alexandra Headland, Caloundra, Maroochydore… you getting the idea?).
With so much to explore, and the ocean a mere hour away, Brisbane has a lot to offer.
“Brisbane is a New World City with an enviable sub-tropical climate, lively al-fresco dining scene, green spaces, world-class art galleries and premier events,” Brisbane Lord Mayor, Graham Quirk says.
In fact, Quirk says, it’s our time to shine.
Eat: The Burrow, West End has great food and a great atmosphere. This quirky little establishment is just like falling into Alice’s Wonderland with is eclectic décor. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, it also serves a range of craft beers, ciders and alcoholic ginger beers.
As someone who loves Italian food, Elio’s Osteria at Carina, is the place to go. It offers authentic Italian cuisine, serving pizza and pasta to Brisbane since 1986. You can read more here.
Drink: Brisbane Supper Club, City is a wine and tapas bar with a focus on boutique wines and beers. Its location off Adelaide Street gives a sense of ‘underground’, making it an ideal spot to have an after-work drink. It regularly hosts wine tastings.
Shop: Thousand Island Dressing caters to those looking for unique items of jewellery or something for the home. Its stores in Paddington, Bulimba and New Farm have a range of original brooches, necklaces, earrings and bracelets, which makes buying a gift for a special friend just that bit easier. If homeware is your thing, there are cushions, rugs, lamps and lights to brighten the home.
Play: Rocks Riverside Park is a playground for kids of all ages. The former industrial site is now one of Brisbane’s largest riverside parks. It has a small water park, cycling and walking tracks, a basketball court and playing fields for that game of ultimate Frisbee, as well as picnic facilities. But if you want a prime position, you need to get in early, as more people have discovered this secluded hideaway in the suburb of Seventeen Mile Rocks.
Got a Brisbane of your own? Tell me about it…
Or create YOUR BRISBANE by heading to http://http://www.visitbrisbane.com.au/Travel/Default.aspx