Words: Ian Cross
Most recently under the international spotlight as host city for 2014’s G20 Summit which attracted the world’s key leaders including President Obama, modern Brisbane, Australia’s third largest city after Sydney and Melbourne, and Queensland’s capital, wasn’t always so modern.
Long an outpost in northern Australia, its sleepy character was reflected in the architecture of Colonial-era homes in old central districts like Fortitude Valley.
Like the rest of the city, Fortitude Valley has been undergoing a significant make-over. Overlooking the rusty red corrugated iron roofs of old workers’ cottages, new designer hotels offer enticing skyline views of the new Brisbane, and down on the high street trendy boutiques replace the old.
Just a short walk from “The Valley”, it’s easy to take a ride on the fast, sleek City Cat service that ferries commuters up and down the beautiful Brisbane River which cuts through the centre of town.
Along the river, Brisbane’s new buildings are on display – homes, apartments, offices and now cultural institutions like the Queensland Museum and Queensland Gallery of Modern Art. In fact, a vast array of the waterfront has indeed been reconstructed following devastating floods of December 2010/January 2011, the worst the city had seen since 1974 – the last time the Brisbane River broke its bank and flooded much of the city.
On weekends in particular, “Brisbanites” (that is, those local to this region) soak up the sunny atmosphere of regenerated areas like Southbank (originally home to 1988’s World Expo) and Roma Street Parklands, and indulge in the many wonderful facilities that their new museums and contemporary, cultural spaces provide.
In this bright modern setting, this almost spotless city that is the new Brisbane, has pushed the old sleepy image well into the background.
Gleaming solar panels power the Queensland University of Technology (QUT), situated next to Old Government House, also now a museum. Next door, the former Queensland Parliament House, built less than 150 years ago, is empty, its gates bolted.
Brisbane hasn’t quite turned its back on its past, but it is without a doubt now racing into the future.
Travelling to Brisbane? Three useful references:
- Visit Brisbane – a one-stop resource for discovering where to shop, play, explore and stay.
- Experience Queensland – a starting point for what’s on in Brisbane and happening all around the “Sunshine State” of Australia.
- 24 Hours in Brisbane: tips on where to stay, dine and dance.
Where to from Brisbane? Fly two hours north and explore the Great Barrier Reef from your base in lovely Cairns, or fly an hour south to Sydney. An hour or two drive from Brisbane and you will discover the fabulous beaches of the Gold Coast or Sunshine Coast, or head inland and up-hill to Toowoomba and the Darling Downs for a regional and Outback Queensland experience.
Dream of visiting Queensland? You should watch our special episode