In July I travelled to Melbourne for a week-long holiday. I’m not sure whether it was the three kilogram weight gain or the cold air restricting oxygen flow to my brain, but the city seemed magical; far more enticing than boring old Brisbane. I wouldn’t be the first person to have lived in Brisbane their entire lives, and I definitely wouldn’t be the first to claim it’s a sleepy city. We were the last to get Grill’d and nowhere stays open past 9pm on a weeknight.
However, in the past few months, Brisbane has hit puberty. Finally it is starting to mature and develop its own culture (and discover that people still like to drink at bars during the week). I decided that with this recent change I would explore the city with a fresh new set of eyes and a camera; here is my ideal itinerary for spending a day in Brisbane.
8 a.m. Gramercy
Nothing starts a day off better than caffeine and breakfast so filling you’ll split your pants. Gramercy popped up out of nowhere in the Wintergarden Centre in the past couple of years, and despite a tiny bacon debacle with the dress shop upstairs, they are still going strong and serving delicious pastries and other breakfast delights.
Wintergarden Laneway, 200 Edward Street, Brisbane
9.30 a.m. Brisbane Arcade
There are rumours that the old Brisbane Arcade is haunted. I’m not sure if this is true or not, but the arcade is still fitted out with its original brass fittings and is home to a number of quaint little stores (including a place to buy delicious tea and a lolly shop). If, somehow, you’re hungry by now, pop by Room with Roses upstairs for a drink and some high tea. This place will you remind you of your Grandma in the best possible way.
Queen Street Mall, 160 Queen Street, Brisbane
11 a.m. City Hall
If you have lived within the Brisbane vicinity for the past five years, you would have heard about the City Hall restoration (it’s been all the rage). Now the beautiful old building is all fixed up, you can explore its corridors and visit the incredible auditorium complete with a 4,391 pipe organ. The absolute best part of city hall, however, is the clock tower tour. It departs every 15 minutes, and takes you up the original manual cage lift to the platform below the bells. Get in early, because they can only take eight people per tour and the free tickets run out quickly.
64 Adelaide Street, Brisbane
12 p.m. Brothers Espresso
This coffee shop is on one of Brisbane’s seemingly forgotten streets. If the bare brick walls and local artwork don’t convince you, then you need to try their mocha that has real dark chocolate in it. They also have a good range of gourmet sandwiches and salads for lunch.
127 Margaret Street, Brisbane
2 p.m. The Queensland Museum
I have a strong opinion that as adults we do not spend enough time visiting museums. We seem to think that we’ve somehow magically remembered all of the fine details from our primary school excursions. Ignorantly, I was still under the impression that dinosaurs weren’t actually real; a bit of a shock when I stood next to the leg of a dinosaur they had dug up in Queensland that was far taller than me.
Cnr Grey & Melbourne Streets, South Brisbane
4 p.m. The new G20 Brisbane sign
Let’s be honest, it’s kind of hideous. Despite the fact that this sign is gaudy and always packed with people, it is a mandatory part of being a tourist in Brisbane to climb into the letters and fight the small children out of the way to get a photo.
South Bank Parklands (near QPAC)
5 p.m. Burnett Lane
Now that you’ve spent the day traipsing around the city, becoming ‘cultured’, it is acceptable to start drinking. Burnett Lane has easily become one of my favourite places in Brisbane as it is home to both The Survey Co and Super Whatnot. The first: a classy establishment for scoffing mouth-watering food and having intelligent conversations. The second: a hole-in-the-wall bar that boasts a fine array of craft beer on tap and a coffee cocktail to rule them all.
Burnett Lane, Brisbane
Later in the p.m. Brooklyn Standard
You are going to question the legitimacy of this recommendation when all you see is a single door and a small neon red sign that says ‘BAR’. However, I can assure you that if you walk downstairs you’ll be wonderfully surprised by the NY themed haven and the live music every night at the Brooklyn Standard. A note to the wise; bring your game face and dancing shoes because the regular patrons are rather talented.
Eagle Lane, Brisbane