Most Australians love Brisbane and they have every right to do so. Brisbane is still considered a small city by many but the attractions of the city are not confined to the weather. If you haven’t been to Brisbane it may be time for you consider making a trip and this blog could serve as your Guide to Brisbane.
Brisbane is ‘Brisvegas’ No More
Brisbane was christened ‘Brisvegas’ back in the ‘90s as a reflection of its early closings (pubs and restaurants) and somewhat backwater nature. In true Aussie style, we name things to reflect the opposite – it definitely wasn’t Las Vegas.
When I was a kid in the ‘60s, the City Hall was THE Skyscraper in town and there were goldfish in the ponds in ANZAC Square. Heck, in the ‘80s, you couldn’t get fuel within the city limits unless the servo was on roster – but there were coin-operated pumps. Brisbane was once a big country town and many ‘outsiders’ knew it.
1982 Commonwealth Games – Brisbane Finds its Feet
In 1982, Brisbane hosted the Commonwealth Games and we learnt how to party with 24hr licensing.
We also learnt a very valuable lesson that would serve us in good stead for the years to come… we learnt how to make our visitors welcome. With our relaxed style (remember Matilda the winking kangaroo) and great climate – and perhaps longer trading hours – we were able to make our visitors welcome and leave us screaming for more.
Brisbane Delivers to the World in Expo ‘88
…and ‘more’ is what we got when, in 1988, Brisbane was once again on the World Stage – we hosted EXPO ‘88.
Those responsible, had the South Bank derelict wharves demolished and the whole southern side of that reach of the Brisbane River became one HUGE party.
Countries from around the World shared in what they had accomplished as well as where they had been. Russia showed off farm implements and surgeries where they cut the outer lens of the eye to remove the need for glasses and where they broke limbs to later stretch them in frames (brand new stuff then); Victoria had wines and cheese; Western Australia had an ingot of gold for you to try and pick up; Canada was famously known as ‘Canadia’; New Zealand had sheep; and I can’t remember what France had – I was tired and emotional that night (but I did meet Debra who was to later become my Minister for Finance and War).
At Expo, Brisbane learnt not to simply stand behind a row of people thinking that there was a queue – in all likelihood there was someone 100m or so away doing up their shoelaces. We also got to see performances by Little River Band, John Farnham, Icehouse (Yes Debra, Iva Davies was there too) and Bryan Ferry was there and Avalon live blew us away. Plus sooo much more – every day – for six months.
Brisbane Keeps Performing
Anyway, I say all this because over these years Brisbane learnt how to party, learnt that it could party and learnt that it wanted to party more.
So, when Expo was finished, public demand for more was so much that the South Bank precinct became South Bank Parklands with a pool and beach (Streets Beach) in the middle of the city, a promenade through an arch of bougainvillea at the Grand Arbor, restaurants, parklands, the Wheel of Brisbane outside the ABC Brisbane Headquarter, and the nearby Queensland Art Gallery, Queensland Museum, Gallery of Modern Art, State Library, and the Maritime Museum.
Brisbane’s Commercial Area
Plus, we have a Central Business District on the other side of the Brisbane River – with shops (including some top labels, restaurants, coffee shops (yes, our coffee has got better over the years too – try 3 Dragonflies in Adelaide Street at (Directions)), hotels and motels – plus a Casino with more to come up the other end of George Street (try counting the cranes).
Guide to Brisbane – the sights
Probably the best place to start with any visit to Brisbane, is to take a drive (or bus) to Mount Coot-tha Lookout ((Directions)) to get your bearings. On a clear day, you can see the sand dunes of Moreton Island.
Another must-do, is to catch a CityCat Ferry and travel up and down the Brisbane River at a comfortable pace – and to just simply be on the river ‘…messing about in boats’ (apologies to Kenneth Grahame and Mr Toad from Toad Hall).
Survival in the City of Brisbane
One big tip for travellers to Brisbane City is that all the streets with girls names run parallel to Queen Street and all the streets with boys’ names run at right angles. Remember that and you can’t go wrong.
Well, if you’re not tired, I am. That’s just the city centre…
Stay an extra Day in Brisbane
Brisbane as a region extends to the east to include the Moreton Bay suburbs of Sandgate, Wynnum, Manly and Lota and Moreton Island itself.
To the west, it borders with Ipswich City at Wacol and Mount Crosby; and the Somerset Region at Mount Glorious.
Or, maybe head south to the Logan City Region near Sunnybank; or north to Everton Park and Bald Hills. All with so much more to see.
But the main message is to get Out&About and discover what’s out there.