Brisbane the River City

A bus ride from Toowoomba gave a higher than normal view of the Lockyer Valley, the market garden farms and the increasing density of housing in the Plainlands atea. All under a bright November sky and some amazing cloud formations enjoyed through the windows, the trip was smooth and time efficient.

Then the changes to Brisbane hit home as we pulled in to Roma Street. The much anticipated Cross-River rail construction is extensive and hopefully it will deliver its targets and provide the Queensland capital with extended infratstructure to meet the anticipated needs of the 2032 Olympic City. The inconvenience of noise, dust and traffic detours now might pay off….one can but hope.

Playing tourist in the familiar city that saw my University studies and Teachers College days in the early 1970s was actually a strange feeling. Although I have visited regularly, being on foot and exploring the hidden gems was a luxury I had not allowed myself for many years. So the walk across the Kurilpa bridge with its unusual structure was a delight. Allowing great views of the muddy old Brisbane River in either direction from the bridge picked up the sense of a big country town turned global city with a contemporary flair. I loved what I saw, and enjoyed the winding loop along the river at the end of the bridge which snaked along the Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) and opened on to Montague Road.

I had a bit of time to kill, so explored Peel Street and its many theatrical outlets and the sprinkling of high rise apartments amidst the trendy coffee shops and interesting boutiques. The murals on the huge pylons of the Goodwill Bridge or was it the William Jolly Bridge were eyecatching. The Spring flowers made a fetching border along the bridge run.

My appetite was sated by the bacon and egg roll (gf toast for me) for a $3 bargain at Ripe Cafe where the staff knew and greeted every passer-by and every customer. Next door was Wyld Floral with its natural vibe, and lots of interesting businesses along just this one section up to Merivale Street.

The Queensland Theatre Company was my destination and the super pleasant and well-equipped bar and cafe was just the atmosphere needed to prepare for the matinee performance of the adaptation of author Kris Olsson’s poignant family story of Boy, Lost. It was a powerful portrayal of the conditions and injustices of societal dysfunction and cultural mismatch and the impact it has on so many. Wonderful stageing, minimal sets, multi-faceted actors and sustained performances. What a lucky audience we were. Coming back into the reality of Montague Road was a bit of an emotional shift.

So a visit to the contemporary exhibitions at GOMA was next. The new exhibit called Air was being installed…interesting balls in the air. Amazing Indigenous traditional bark paintings, totems and works on canvas as well as the interpretation of weaving with different, non-traditional materials were enthralling and culturally gifting us knowledge. Very special.

For years I had listened to the recommendations of visitors to the Museum of Brisbane – you must go and see it. So without being hampered by parking time limits, I was free to wander back across to Queen Street Mall and into King George Square and up to Level 3 of City Hall. Yes, it was well worth it! More treasures uncovered. I particularly liked the posters of the artist in residence (who wasn’t in residence ) and the Brissie…isms. I smiled at all of them. Very familiar and oh so typical of those of us who have grown with the city.

The final piece of my day in Brisbane was to meet my family at the Old Museum for my grandson’s Year 12 Graduation from the Music Industry College. Such a small high school with a big impact on its students. A short, sweet, individualised program with the highlights being the performance of the teacher lead band Double Happiness and the throwing of the mortar boards into the air…… to see these talented young creative arts students take on the world.

It was a foot-weary Toowoomba tourist who finished that day tired by truly grateful for the sights and sounds of the River City. BrisVegas you rock!

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