In Food + Drink

Why Brisbane Is Australia’s Most Under-Rated City For Long Weekends

Brisbane may be Australia’s most underrated city for a weekend getaway. The Sunshine State’s capital offers excellent dining, a world-class arts scene and beautiful green spaces, sans the crushing crowds of Sydney and unpredictable weather of Melbourne.

It’s been a decade since southerners started to catch on and declare ‘Brisbane has really come of age’, but nothing has slowed down. GOMA is still hitting it out of the park. The dining scene continues to grow. And that ‘beautiful one day, perfect the next’ weather hasn’t changed either.

Sunny South Bank is the city’s culture hub, with art galleries, museums, the Queensland Performing Arts Centre, Streets Beach and plenty of fun eateries. Cross over the CBD, and Fortitude Valley’s Brunswick St Mall is known for live music, vintage markets and a thriving bar culture – until you make your way down to the fashion-forward James St precinct, home to local and high-end labels, and the lush Calile Hotel development.

Where to play in Brisbane

For the curious, Brisbane is best explored by bicycle. Start out in the leafy New Farm park – home to the contemporary arts hub Brisbane Powerhouse and the colourful Jan Powers Farmers Markets – and follow the riverside pathways along the stretch to city through to the Brisbane Botanic Gardens.

From there, you can keep going along the river through to laid-back West End, home to a hub of craft beer breweries, organic markets, and creative arts venues.

If you stay in West End, a visit to the arts precinct is all but mandatory. Here, Queensland Art Gallery, Gallery of Modern Art, Queensland Museum and State Library huddle together.

GOMA’s exterior Photo: GOMA

The two galleries both hold a mix of permanent collections spanning local, Australian and international works, as well as world-class exhibitions. In 2019, expect to see Margaret Olley, Ben Quilty and Goobalathaldin Dick Roughsey-specific exhibitions, and the 9th Asia Pacitic Triennial of Contemporary Art on display from now until late April.

Even if museums aren’t your thing, make sure to take a moment to check out Queensland Museum’s ground floor exhibition of dinosaur bones discovered across the Queensland outback.

In Queen Street Mall, the city’s main shopping strip, the country’s largest free live music program City Sounds see a rolling line up of live acts perform almost every day along the various stages.

Where to eat in Brisbane

A dish at Gauge Photo: Gauge Brisbane

The hardest thing about eating out in Brisbane can be pacing yourself. Staying in South Bank’s cultural precinct, you’ll find Fish Lane, a snaking lane-away full of casual eateries, wine bars, tiny cocktail haunts and everything in between. Stop into Maker, a tiny 20-something seat cocktail bar, for a killer martini, or head further down to French-styled wine bar La Lune.

For its modest size, Gauge packs a punch. The hatted-eatery is hard to pin down; an incredibly creative casual café by day, and a moody, innovative fine diner by night. Soft eggs with smoked almond cream sit alongside blood and bone marrow tacos on the menu, and the infamous black garlic bread with brown butter.

Taro’s Ramen is arguably the best ramen down under. Seriously. Owner Taro Akimoto is fiercely passionate about his craft, making the signature tonkotsu base from Bangalow sweet pork bones, with noodles also made on-site with local flour. Even the jammy ramen eggs – in this case, sourced from the Darling Down’s Country Range Farming – are technically perfect. There are multiple locations, so no excuse to miss out.

Gold-flecked anolini Photo: Bacchus/Facebook

If you’ve always wanted to experience the plushness of Michelin-standard fine dining, Bacchus should be on your list. The service truly is five-star – recline in your velvet-upholstered high back chair and enjoy as smartly dressed waitstaff shuffle everything from live marron, to giant hunks of local A-grade steaks, and gold leaf-infused olive oil across your table.

Champagne lobster can be garnished with caviar, and the already-luxe David Blackmore beef shin and parmigiana anolini gets dialled up with specks of gold from the aforementioned olive oil.

Where to stay in Brisbane

The boutique hotel scene has had a recent explosion, too, with the valley’s Calile Hotel, W Brisbane, Emporium South Bank, Ovolo Inchcolm Hotel and a swag of others competition for that tourist dollar.

In South Bank, the Rydges Hotel has recently undergone a huge $30 million three-year long make-over, complete with a 250kg custom crystal chandelier designed by interiors firm Kannfinch. On the podium level, the outdoor Soleil Pool Bar’s infinity pool overlooks South Bank parklands, river and city skyline.

The suites are, as expected, decked out with modern luxurious, including coffee machines, big screen LED televisions, private river-facing balconies, and well-appointed work stations.

(Lead image: Rydges’ Soleil Pool Bar) 

Published 02 December, 2018