A weekend in Brisbane was easy to fill up – the Queensland capital has a nice mix of riverside relaxation, shiny new architecture and bohemian markets.
All a far cry from Brisbane’s origins as a British penal colony. Fortunately its rich resources led to it being opened to settlement in 1838 (to the tragic detriment of the Aboriginal landowners) and it has since grown into a worthy capital for Queensland.
Taking a river cruise is the best and easiest way to get an overview of the city – following the serpentine Brisbane River as it passes under the might Storey Bridge, past the gleaming towers of the business district.
The surviving colonial-era buildings are dwarfed like toys. As in other Australian cities (Sydney, Melbourne and Perth in particular) the iron-lace-bedecked 19th century architecture jostles with the gleaming glass of skyscrapers and Maserati dealerships.
The South Bank Parklands is a wonderful place to spend some afternoon hours, wandering the walkways through the flowering trees, past fountains and playgrounds. It is an impressive piece of urban landscaping.
There are also bustling tourist markets with food, crafts, clothing and souvenirs. And a good selection of gracious pubs, trendy cafes and good restaurants. There’s even a Japanese garden.
The piece de resistance is the South Bank Beach – just look at this photo. It is not some popular spot on the Gold Coast but a mere stone’s through from the central city of Brisbane, a city of two to three million people.
For going out in Brisbane I recommend The Powerhouse, which regularly offers free entertainment, and any of the eateries at Eagle Point – a great place to enjoy a cold beverage on the terrace as the sun goes down.
Beyond the central city of Brisbane the wooden villas begin – nicknamed ‘Queenslanders’ they are raised high to keep cool and surrounded by deep, closed-in verandahs. In October the Jacaranda trees rain purple blossom across the streets and scent the warm air of the entire city. I have seen a display of Jacarandas once before – in the South African city of Pretoria – and they add a stunning flush of colour.
Brisbane has a good selection of suburban markets. I visited the Northey Street Market (and city farm) in This Brisbane market runs on Sunday morning and has fabulous organic produce, as well as local crafts and the Chai Cafe where you can get great coffee and yummy breakfasts. There is also a play space for children and art activities running all morning.
By Natasha von Geldern