As the title of this Blog suggests, there is more to Brisbane than its bloodied history and development. There is culture (yes even despite the best efforts of Sir Les Patterson aka Dame Edna Everidge/Barry Humphries), there is a huge amount of sport, there is music and art both traditional and modern, it is a food and coffee shop heaven, and the aim of this blog is to try and get some of this across. Oh and it has some fantastic parkland areas.
Brisbane’s South Bank is home to the Queensland Performing Arts Centre, Queensland Art Gallery and the Gallery of Modern Art. The Performing Arts Centre features a massive concert hall, restaurants and bars (far too expensive for us) and regularly hosts small musical events across the spectrum. It attracts international stars such as Nigel Kennedy (remember him?) who is once again performing his Four Seasons and a local Aussie tribute to Joe Cocker, sadly not whilst we were there.
To reach these places there is a delightful walk along the Southbank Park area with riverside paths and shaded walks. Cafes and restaurants line the route and on Sundays a busy market is held in the pedestrian area.
Above – Scenes from the South Bank area
Next Door is the Brisbane Art Gallery. When we visited its main feature was art and sculpture from neighbouring Papua New Guinea as well as art and photography from around Australia and the rest of the world. This was very interesting as exhibits told the history of Brisbane through art.
Clockwise: A painting called “Evicted” by Blandford Fletcher (1858-1936) – This painting moved me. Art/Sculpture from Papua New Guinea (PNG): I think this is called Installation Art. The guy leaning in is trying to take a picture of it with his i-Phone: More from PNG
More examples of the art and photographs in the gallery
The Gallery of Modern Art further along the South Bank what what you would expect a gallery of modern art to be………full of strange concepts (for me anyway, a total philistine) such as 2 steel and perspex Helter Skelters (fully functioning) opposite each other. We were invited to have a go but politely declined as we had not long had lunch and did not wish what we had eaten to re-appear half way down. Other exhibits featured elephants, a huge arch and an enormous red circular object which looked like the inner tube off a Jumbo jet tyre (except that jumbo jet tyres don’t have inner tubes!) with a black centre hanging on a white wall. This was the only exhibit on the wall and was by someone I have heard of, Anish Kapoor. Sadly one of the museum staff intervened as I was ready with my camera so no picture.
During our walk back from the Art Galleries we heard live music coming from a stage in the park so went to investigate. In one corner of the Southbank park, overlooking the river was a small stage on which a band, the Dan Woolfson Trio were preparing to play. We took a seat on the wall with others just relaxing in the sunshine, whilst others sat on the grass with picnic lunches, and listened while they played a 45 minute set of wonderful music in the open air.
Music in the Park from the Dan Woolfson Trio
Every district in Brisbane has at least one park or open space. One minute across the road from us was the Botanical Gardens, a wonderful haven of beautifully kept parkland , ancient trees and bushes, fountains and ponds full of wildlife. It is busy as it is also used by many Brisbanites for exercise, be it running, walking, cycling or circuit training. There are exercise stations placed discreetly around the gardens and groups out each day being led by professional trainers. Also placed at regular intervals are water fountains for drinking….and they worked! South Bank is different as already mentioned but the park that Lyn was most taken with was New Farm Park. New Farm is a district of Brisbane about 3km from the Central Business District but as far away from the noise and hustle of the city centre as it is possible to get. Here is Lyn’s description of New Farm Park and why she was so taken with it:
“When we arrived at New Farm, I sensed calmness and serenity; it seemed a gentle place, a residential area with tree lined streets, a riverside walk and a park. I was surprised to see that the park was very similar to those we have in the UK and not like the Botanical Gardens we have experienced so far on this trip. New Farm Park has wide open areas of grass dotted with beautiful trees, a bandstand, paths that meander through it and flower beds planted, not with exotic species but with roses and the usual bedding plants we have back home. We were both sitting on a bench enjoying this tranquil place when I noticed two women sat cross-legged under a tree facing each other. I soon realised that a therapy session was taking place. I recognised that the therapy was Tapping, or Emotional Freedom Technique, which works like emotional acupressure to gently release negative emotions that are at the root of problems and pain. It was refreshing to see a therapy session taking place out of doors and in a healing environment. That is one of the things I love about Brisbane and I am guessing Australia too; its encouragement of wellbeing and to practicing it in many forms, in the open air without inhibitions.”
Those who love their coffee, alcohol and food (not at the same time) are well served in Brisbane. There is a massive coffee culture and independent coffee shops are everywhere. I don’t recall seeing a Starbucks in Brisbane though there must be one. Though why you would with the delicious coffee served elsewhere is beyond me. Foodies will love it here with everything from Pizza to Sushi and Burgers to Korean and Turkish veggie dishes. Every taste is catered for. There are bars aplenty, some refined and sort of genteel (by Aussie standards anyway) others the typical sports bar with wall to wall TVs showing everything from Big Bash Cricket, Rugby League and Union (season just started here) Aussie Rules AND Netball. This is very popular with the Australians. We even found an Irish Bar with genuine Irish folk music, played by a genuine Irishman and an Aussie Irishman.
Time to move on to the next stage of our trip now, but Brisbane definitely gets our vote. Mind you we did see it in the sunshine. This is their rainy season and they have had none for over a month. Drought looms!
Me and a coffee; Us in the Irish Bar