I decided to do a quick stop in Brisbane on my way to Byron Bay. I had to go through it anyway so why not check it out? People heard I had just 24 hours and thought I was a little crazy, but I had done a dozen stops like this in South America, so I went for it. And I’m happy I did.
Brisbane is much better than I expected it to be. I’d heard that it wasn’t worth going to unless you knew someone there and maybe that’s true for a weekend or longer stay, but I had a very pleasant day in Brizzy.
I arrived at 3:10 pm and had a casual evening. I took advantage of the massive roof deck of my hostel to write some blog posts at a table overlooking the city and ate my couscous and avocado dinner (a true backpacker meal of leftovers from Noosa) outside. Brian, a quirky Swiss guy from my room, suggested we check out the free ferry City Hopper to see the city lit up from the water. Great idea.
The ferry is a nice nighttime activity. It was pleasant to putter around on a boat on such a warm night and see the glowing bridges and buildings of Brizzy. It was on this boat ride that we learned that the river really does have sharks in it! When we returned to the hostel I took advantage of another one of its perks: the movie theater. Pirates of the Caribbean? Don’t mind if I do.
The next morning I set out early to do Lonely Planet’s CBD walk (taken from a fellow traveler in Noosa). This walk was a great introduction to the city; it took me through main plazas, urban districts, important civic buildings, bridge views, riverside boardwalks, the Botanical Gardens, and the South Bank, which is a fantastic public amenities space. There’s a rainforest walk with a Nepalese Pagoda, plenty of places to lounge in grassy fields, walking/running/cycling paths, cafes and restaurants, a cultural center, and the Street Beach, Brisbane’s lagoon. What is with Australia and their love of public swimming pool lagoons? I had now seen this 3 times: Cairns, Airlie Beach, and Brisbane. They’re all so well maintained too, looking clean and inviting. I wonder if that would ever happen in the States.
I spent a decent amount of time in the Gallery of Modern Art. This museum is a perfectly manageable size and had some interesting exhibits. I discovered 2 new artists I really liked: Tracey Moffatt and Hiraki Sawa. It is definitely worth a visit, not just for Art History people. (And it’s free!) On my way back I encountered a food market in front of the Treasury where I wanted to buy everything, but I held off because I’d been told of a cool stop in an alley nearby.
I almost missed The Brew – on Albert between Queen Street Mall and King George Square – because it really does just look like an alleyway, but it’s good thing I found it. This is an awesome chill place I could spend hours in, the type of place where you can hang out alone or with friends, starting with a coffee and moving on to food and beer as the day moves on. I let myself get a mocha (so good) and took some leisure time. A reward for a good 24 hour visit to Brizzy.
At 4:00 I boarded my bus to Byron Bay happy with this last-minute stop. I needed a city in between all this beach time. I didn’t realize I’d missed cities until I took more pictures on the hour and a half boat ride than I did on all of Fraser Island. Add Brisbane to the list of places that made me think more about my future, this time leaning heavily in favor of city life. And when I spent a lot of time trying to get a good picture of a funky skyscraper and a trussed bridge, and sitting in a gallery to listen to an architect talk about his work, I was again reminded of my love for architecture. Could this year bring me right back to where I was before I left, just a year older and more traveled? TBD, but after Brizzy, it’s possible. Then again after this year anything is possible.