In terms of when she was founded, Brisbane (in 1824, a mere 11 years before Melbourne), is the middle child of the 3 biggest capital cities on Australian's eastern seaboard, and in a lot of ways, exhibit archetypal middle child syndromes. Oft overlooked since the eldest, Sydney, went on to become Australia's biggest city and financial capital, and the youngest, Melbourne, became the darling pet of Australia, the cry for well-deserved attention hasn't been the most successful. But with the redevelopment of the Southbank area and the conducive setting to cultivate a burgeoning arts and culture scene, she can now proudly hold her own on the global scene. The hosting of the Asia-Pacific Triennale is the cornerstone of this growing influence that Brisbane yields and is sure to continue to exert as an influx of artistic and creative talents now turn their collective foci unto the capital of Queensland.
wee black book : BRISBANE EDITION
TOKYO WEE BLACK BOOK
QUEENSLAND CULTURAL CENTRE, SOUTH BANK PRECEINCT
No trip to Brisbane is complete without a visit to the cultural precinct, just across the river from the Eagle Street Pier if you happen to have had lunch at one of the top restaurants (Esquire or Aria) there.
The precinct is the legacy of Robin Gibson's vision, Brisbane's giant of an architect and you can still be awashed with his consistent, refined international-modernist aesthetics of Queensland Art Gallery (QAG), the Queensland Museum and the Queensland Performing Arts Centre. This rejuvenation project injected life back into this riverfront prime estate and put Brisbane indelibly on the world arts map.
QAG houses Australian art dating from the 1840s to the 1970s, and the Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA), the poster-child of the contemporary side of the precinct, picks up where QAG leaves off, exhibiting Australian and Pan-Asian art from the 1970s to today. We are particularly taken by the latter. GOMA is housed in an ultra-modern building of glass, steel and concrete designed by Sydney-based company Architectus, and often showcases prominent artists around the world like Cao Guo-Qiang in his stupendous show "Falling Back To Earth".
Lastly, the Cultural Centre also features the updated Queensland State Library, the 2007 RAIA Sir Zelman Cowen award winner for Public Architecture, designed by homegrown firm Donovan Hill.
INSTITUE OF MODEN ART
If an illustrative metaphor is needed, then IMA is like the subversive sibling of GOMA. It is a non-collecting contemporary arts institution and thus focuses on programming, discourse and circulation of contemporary art. It has been instrumental in pushing the contemporary arts envelope for more than 40 years and continues to do so with its rigourous programmes of education and research.
NEW FARM DELI
When the smell of fresh produce and honest cooking wafts up your nose and the deli-like presentation delights your visual senses, you know this is one place to stay for a long brunch (over a special blend of Vittoria no less). The menu is innovative to boot, especially impressive given that this is a Brisbane institution which has been around since 1975, and we are partial towards the breakfast Contadino.
S N O O Z E
THE CALILE HOTEL
This retro chic hotel instantaneously raised the boutique hospitality bar in the Valley, or perhaps even Brisbane, when it charged onto the scene. Local architect, Richards and Spence, helped deliver the owner's vision who named this after their great-grandfather who created one of the city's first retail empire. It sits easily in the perennially-cool St James precinct where Brisbane's best independent retail and cafes come to roost. Don't miss its poolside Greek restaurant, Hellanika, too!
48 James Street, Fortitude Valley, QLD 4006 | thecalilehotel.com
SPICES BALFOUR HOTEL
An absolute charmer of a hotel, this traditional 1800s Queenslander retains its quaint character and fits comfortably in its New Farm neighbourhood. Its 9 suites are furnished individually and is an eclectic mélange of vintage and designer décor. Simply put, it's like going to your granny's tucked-away property but gone posh (plus views of Story Bridge and a comprehensive library, just in case your granny isn't quite the avid reader).