We kicked off a new series in January featuring traveling photographers from around the world (most recent feature here). We make no secret of the fact that we love travel. We love learning about other cultures. We love contributing to a smaller, more interactive space. With this in mind, we are going to be sharing local stories by local photographers from around the world throughout our posts this year.
For this month’s feature post, we are featuring… well, ourselves! We are showcasing our hometown of Brisbane, Queensland. We posted on this topic previously (here); we do have a different slant for the topic of our hometown this time as most of the recommendations are close to Brisbane City itself. These recommendations also feature a heavy smattering of parent influence but our toddler might disagree. If this post was left to 2-year-old Chloe, it would probably feature our local dog park at the top. Some recommendations will double-up with our previous list - these are possibly the ones to put at the top! We pride ourselves on having a transparent business model. We think that you will find our view of our hometown to be transparent, too. Warning: this post contains Aussie sarcasm. We hope that you enjoy!
"Tell us about where you live": We live in Brisbane, Australia’s third largest city (behind Sydney & Melbourne, Australia’s largest & second largest cities respectively). Descriptors & phrases you will hear about Brisbane, our river city, include that it is liveable. Family-friendly. Affordable. Cosmopolitan. Has a laid-back lifestyle. Offers enviable weather (except for our humidity! Try to avoid December-February). Is a rapidly emerging global city.
"What makes your town, state or country unique?": Possibly one of the most most unique elements of Brisbane is the Royal Queensland Show, or Ekka, our largest cultural festival. Actually, it is the largest one in our state of Queensland. Ekka, richly steeped in traditions, has been an annual show since 1876. On average, 400 000 people attend. We shared our 2017 Ekka experience in posts here & here. What is not pictured is the “Ekka flu”, the sickness that unfortunately seems to be inevitable & prevalent around that time of the year.
"If I traveled from the opposite side of the world, what should I visit in your town, state or country?": Our recommendations (below) are pretty much limited to inner ring suburbs (up to 5 kilometres from the city centre) making exploring our city feasible. Brisbane is a sprawling city and outlying suburbs can be up to one hour drive (or more depending on peak hour traffic) from the central business district. Aside from Brisbane City itself (check out the Botanical Gardens in the heart of the city), here are our recommendations on both sides of the river:
North of the River:
Eat Street Markets consists of a series of shipping containers offering internationally-influenced street food & drinks. Plenty of entertainment on offer, including an outdoor cinema.
James Street is a chic & trendy fashion hub. Excellent spot for a stroll and some window shopping if indulging & escaping is part of your holiday plans.
Northey Street City Farm, a non-profit community farm in the heart of the city, is our home away from home. It’s our local backyard. It’s where we unwind and clear our head.
South of the River:
South Bank Parklands cover 17 hectares of river-front land and feature free swimming facilities, walking tracks, picnic spaces and more. Very family friendly.
QAGOMA (Queensland Art Gallery/Gallery of Modern Art) also offers free entry to permanent exhibitions. Usually worth popping in and losing yourself for a couple of hours.
"What is something quirky we would find in your town, state or country": The fact that our city has been built around a murky river (well, an estuary to be precise), attracting monikers like “brown snake” because, quite frankly, you can never have too many references to our deadly wildlife. Ah, we are grateful to live here - truly.
Since our city is pretty laid-back, you can be walking along Queen Street one moment and experiencing Sheppard live the next (can personally testify; they raised the roof with Geronimo). Brisbane is a bit of an unassuming city and we love that. We hope it never changes in this respect.
"Coffee or chai/tea?": Our coffee scene isn’t as strong as some other Australian cities so we are going to go with chai tea. The best place for this is at The Three Monkeys. It will be served to you in a bowl. Just go with it. Oh, and pick a table all the way out the back of the cafe. You will find a cosy back garden where time slows down and you will want to return stat. :)
"Best breakfast cafe?": The Low Road Cafe. This is a must. Please don’t fly halfway around the world and not partake here. We mean, there is a very good chance that you will pass the cafe on your way from the airport to the city so just.make.the.pit-stop. We have been going to the Low Road Cafe since they were kind enough to offer a highchair to tired & harassed parents. We heard a rumour that after writing “Kick Me” on the back of the highchair, they threw it under a passing train on the nearby tracks. Needless to say, we haven’t seen that white highchair in a looooooong time. Top tip (nothing to do with food as you can pick anything here): just be a decent human and they won’t publicly shame you on their facebook page. They probably won’t remember you, either, so there’s that, too.
"Three reasons for why someone should visit your town, state or country?": 1) What you see is what you get; Brisbane is not pretentious. 2) The Low Road Cafe; we are yet to find a cafe in the world that gives us the same comforting postprandial hypotension to kick off our day and, at the same time, promises to ruin our next event if we choose to book it with them (we never said that we don’t have Stockholm Syndrome). 3) Brisbane is family-friendly; a big deal for us now that we have a little one.
"Train, bus, car or walk?": If you live here (backstory because it’s complicated), it comes down to where you live. Brisbane is still ironing out the public transport options in general. If you are here for travel, you might be able to get away with public transport (we have made sure that most of our suggestions above have been public transport friendly). Outside of the city, car hire will be the most reliable option and will allow for greater flexibility in outer suburbs; just keep alert but not alarmed for parking signage (fyi: our parking ticket officers take their job seriously). The central business district itself is conducive to walking but make sure that you slip, slop, slap, seek & slide (slip on a shirt, slop on the 50+ sunscreen, slap on a hat, seek shade or shelter & slide on some glasses; Australia is the melanoma capital of the world after all).
"Best accommodation?": We wouldn’t know for sure as we haven’t experienced Brisbane accommodation outside of our living quarters! In terms of luxury, Sofitel is highly rated and about as central as possible to Brisbane City. Otherwise, Airbnb it and get to know some (more likely than not) friendly locals!
"Must-see vantage point?": Mt Coot-tha Lookout offers panoramic views but is over-rated. There we go; we said it. It can also be a little bit inconvenient to get there (some advice here; parking at the top is at a premium). Our local council is currently redeveloping the Mt Coot-tha site to include a treetop canopy tour, a scenic zipline tour, & an Indigenous cultural heritage tour and skywalk. In other words, watch this space (the treetop canopy tour is expected to be open as early as sometime this year). At the base of Mt Coot-tha, however, are some very pretty gardens: we shared some of our small adventures here and here. They are really nice gardens to wander in for a few hours.
"Who is the most note-worthy person to come from your hometown?": Geoffrey Rush. Possibly? Well, he was actually born in Toowoomba (down the road and around the corner) but he went to school & university here in Brisbane so that sort of counts, yes?
"Number one thing you miss when you're away?": It is hard to beat our climate for most of the year. You thought we were going to say the Low Road Cafe. We would but they don’t offer us a highchair. :p
If you come and grace Brisbane with your presence, feel free to hit us up for fresh/season-specific recommendations. We would be only too happy to help.