When Lonely Planet coined Brisbane the “most underrated” and “hippest” city in the country last year, many Aussies were left stroking their chins in bewilderment or else decidedly amused at the thought. But there’s no denying this unsuspecting northerner has finally ‘found itself’. Say goodbye to the big country town label, the Broncos paraphernalia and XXXX beer references. Say hello to an emerging art scene, top-notch coffee and food, plus those same, ultra-cool laidback vibes. Brisbane is a city on the up. Here are five reasons to go see it for yourself.
While a number of celebrity chef restaurants, newly successful chains and other fanciful feasts have opened up kitchen in Brisbane over the last few years, what makes the city’s foodie scene so appealing is the rise of the globally inspired independents, the funky local fit outs and the procession of trendy food trucks that have rolled into town. Every single week a new eatery is opening, pushing the boundaries of just how unique, classy and crafty the portions can be. The latest craze is no doubt the flurry of flavours on offer at Eat Street Markets – the first of its kind in Australia. But even just a wander through the streets will quickly reveal a plethora of swanky new eateries oozing warm yet ambitious ambiance.
Top suburbs to eat: The CBD, South Bank, West End, Fortitude Valley, New Farm, Bulimba, Teneriffe, Paddington, Woolloongabba, Hamilton.
No longer a cultural backwater, a creative renaissance has brought forth an ever-flourishing arts scene worth discovering. On the main stage, more and more internationally-renowned shows are drawing crowds from near and far to QPAC (Queensland Performing Arts Centre), constantly bigger and better works are sprucing up the walls of GOMA (Gallery of Modern Art) and the Museum of Brisbane (MoB) continues to host outstanding exhibits. But it’s not just the obvious bigwigs that are making their mark. Many smaller venues, independently run galleries and pop-up events are cultivating a continuum of creative culture across the city.
Top exhibition spaces to explore: GOMA, QAG, MoB, Brisbane Powerhouse, Jugglers Art Space, White Canvas Gallery, The Hold Artspace, Red Hill Gallery, Fireworks Gallery, Institute of Modern Art, Doggett St Gallery.
The pinnacle of Brisbane’s beer scene is no longer a trusty six-pack of XXXX beers in an ice-cold esky on a hot summer’s day. Like any truly hip and happening city, Brisbane claims a raft of craft beer bars and breweries pouring no shortage of fine brews on tap, backed by a long list of bottled batches in every hue from woody to fruity. The locals are absolutely loving it too, so you can bet you won’t be the only thirsty punter at the bar. Most hubs also offer a hearty menu along with that classic warm and rustic setting. For something a bit different, soak up the extinct animal theme at the Woolly Mammoth Alehouse or brew and bottle your own special beers at The Brewing Hub.
Top brew houses to drink: The Scratch, Archive Beer Boutique, Bitter Suite, Green Beacon Brewing Co, Newstead Brewing Company, Brewski Bar, Bavarian Beer Cafe, Charming Squire.
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There’s no denying the easygoing attitude that infuses Brisbane, from the top of Mount Cootha to the bottom of the winding river waters. There’s no arrogant swagger, no hectic bustle and no pretentiousness to be found; the city is all cool, calm and collected without even trying. Perhaps it’s the sunny weather that gives the locals their sunny predisposition and undeniably relaxed nature – they’re always outside having picnics in the parks, playing sport and wandering around on foot without fear of unexpected winds or downpour. Either way, the relaxed vibes truly set a wonderful tone for getaway that won’t leave you flustered and overwhelmed when you get home.
Top spots to relax: South Bank Parklands, Streets Beach, New Farm Park, City Botanical Gardens, Roma Street Parklands, King George Square.
Brisbane’s warm weather lends itself to a colourful market culture that spills out onto the sidewalks and streets and into the leafy parks. Each and every weekend, there’s a truckload of stallholder action to choose from, whether it’s fresh produce and gourmet bites, designer threads and antique finds, or simply a morning coffee and stroll you fancy. Inventive, creative and extra special events regularly add festive flair to the market calendar, from monthly twilight markets to bargain-brimming suitcase rummages and young designer markets. Traditionally, the Southbank Lifestyle Markets and Riverside at the Pier Markets were the go-to hotspots, but for a more authentic feel for the local lifestyle and culture, go where the locals go.
Top markets to wander: Jan Power’s Farmers Markets, Davies Park Market, The Collective Markets, South Bank Young Designer Market, Boundary Street Markets, BrisStyle Indie Twilight Market, Northey Street Organic Market, Boutique Markets Portside, Finders Keepers Markets, Eagle Farm Markets, Brisbane Markets.
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