Let’s start bang in the middle of Brisbane where the buzz of creative things to do, is perpetually loud.
Take a dip in the eighth great man-made wonder of the world, Streets Beach at South Bank or just lay a towel on the sand in the sun; browse through art galleries known for hosting collections from the likes of Warhol to Lynch; catch the City Cat along the river; sing your heart out (softly) at shows such as Kinky Boots and Wizard of Oz at the Lyric Theatre; or immerse yourself in the Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art, which are like yin and yang – two distinct galleries equalling a perfect whole. Unbuckle your belts after eating your way around flash and fun cafes also food festivals; feel the crowd roar at an international rugby showdown; and for an exhilarating adventure, the Story Bridge Adventure Climb is a must. One of only three such experiences in the world, it’s a 2-hour unique journey up over the bridge's superstructure to the 80m summit with magnificent uninterrupted 360° views of Brisbane city, the river, mountain ranges and Moreton Bay Islands.
Restaurants and bars? From top-draw Aria, Blackbird, Urbane, Esquire, Stokehouse, GOMA Restaurant, Sake and Cha Cha Char to budget Asian and a motza trendy burger joints, there’s something for everyone, even followers of Paleo. Super trendy hotel Capri by Fraser has Asana by Pete Evans, with locally-sourced produce in its paleo-influenced menu. Not sure if the cocktails fit the brief but sure do the trick. The adjoining café, The Sensory Lab, has ‘coffee scientists’ and is a favourite for business folk and guests. Also impressive are the numerous distinctive design features, especially the historical nod to Folio Books in the lobby, and Australiana artwork in the over-generous designer suites. And who was the smarty-pants who thought of a DIY espresso martini, using the in-room Nespresso machine and nip of Frangelico?
Time to amp it up or just mix it up with the locals. Fortitude Valley is a contradiction in itself. It’s raw, yet sophisticated; it’s where elegance and style meet grunge and offbeat; and heritage-listed properties stand proudly alongside contemporary statements. The Valley, as it is affectionately known, was Australia’s first dedicated entertainment district and continues to be a hive of activity. Live music thrives and international DJs are drawn to late-closing clubs.
The impressive Chinatown Mall is a hub of exotic Chinese supermarkets and eateries; around Brunswick and James Streets are a plethora of dining options from hatted restaurants such as Tartufo and Gerard’s Bistro, chic bars Alfred & Constance, Harveys, Bar & Bistro and Cru Bar, and groovy cafes, to famous James Street Markets and Jocelyn’s Provisions, an amazing patisserie, cake palace and the most more-ish parmesan biscuits ever.
Don’t miss numerous elegant on-trend furniture designers and homewares’ retailers, also the Emporium complex which channels a European village feel, has a classy hotel and head-turning boutiques such as ex Noosa girl Natalie Mainwaring’s Nat-Sui, with its audacious and totally sophisticated shoes. Fashionistas will also love James Street where exclusive, international and cutting edge local labels such as Camilla and Sass & Bide, are de rigeur.
Keeping it sassy is new kid on the block, the repurposed warehouse development of Sage Hotel James Street, next door to the revamped historic Queens Arms Hotel and James Street Cafe and Cellar, off the gallery-like hotel lobby. The light installation by designer Karim Rashid and artworks throughout are inspired by Binikinba-Ba, the aboriginal name for ‘place of the land tortoises; and each designer guest room embraces the best of nearby suppliers such as pops of Dinosaur Designs and textiles from Mokum.
The Queensland capital is ever-changing. Always exciting, rather avant-garde and certainly world-class – and less than two hours’ drive!
Capri by Fraser 80 Albert St Brisbane www.capribyfraser.com
Sage Hotel James Street Fortitude Valley email@example.com