Pass the sunscreen Vlad! Photo: Glenn Hunt Brisbane Entertainment and Convention Centre? I know a place much easier to meet up.
Regurgitator. Fine upstanding models of the Brisbane music scene.
Oh I’m sure you’ll come to like our traffic as much as we do. Photo: Michelle Smith
A genuine Brisbane gem, the Thomas Brisbane Planetarium. Photo: Harrison Saragossi
G20: Full coverage
Welcome to Brisbane, G20 officials, delegates, security and media!
You’ve just flown into town for this weekend’s big summit, a glorious three days of photo opportunities and behind-the-scenes wheeling and dealing.
To help you acclimatise, we’ve prepared this handy guide to your host town. Sure, smartphone apps will get you around, but to know a city you must have some insight into its people and its attitude.
Therefore we present Ten Things You Should Know About Brisbane.
1. We’ve got mixed feelings about you being here.
Look, we do hope you have a great time, but we’re still peeved by all the blocked roads, public transport hassles and gung-ho security we have to deal with this week.
Of course, if there are no riots, you spend up big in local businesses and promise to make your rich friends come to Brisbane for a holiday, all of this inconvenience will be forgiven – particularly if we can also get a selfie with Barack Obama.
2. Yeah…it’s hot. Sorry about that.
Our weather is pretty glorious most of the time. Many Brisbanites fuss in summer and insist “I like the cold!”, which is generally code for “I like it between 15 and 20 degrees!”. Put them in actual cold and see how quickly they pile on the jumpers and claim Seasonal Affective Disorder.
However, forecasts for Saturday and Sunday are predicting 36 degree tops (that’s 98.7 Fahrenheit for you Americans), which is admittedly into sweaty crotch territory. This won’t matter too much to those of you cooped up in air-conditioned conference rooms and hotels, but for those of you out and about, kick back in cotton shorts and thongs. No one will judge you.
On the bright side, there is a 40 per cent chance of rain, so fingers crossed you get to experience one of our beautiful summer storms. You’ll know one’s coming if by mid-afternoon everything’s gone still, and even the leaves stop rustling. Waves of grey-black cumulonimbus will roll in from the west, sometimes tinged with an otherworldly green that signifies possible hail.
When the thunder cracks and lightning darts, you may think you’re in an apocalypse. Gutters will rise, low-lying roads will flood and the downpour is often hard enough to bruise your skull. But never fear, it’ll all move on in about 20 minutes. Then you spend the evening in the cool, inhaling in the intoxicating scent of fresh ozone. You’re welcome.
3. Brisbane is actually quite hilly.
It’s funny, you forget about when you live here, then you pop down to Melbourne and realise how flat they’ve got it down there. And don’t even start us on Adelaide.
Brisbane is full of hills – Spring Hill, Red Hill, Highgate Hill, Cannon Hill, Camp Hill, Chapel Hill, Bald Hills, Seven Hills, Kenmore Hills, Riverhills, Wavell Heights, Stafford Heights, Carina Heights, Jamboree Heights, Mount Ommaney, Mount Coot-tha, Mount Crosby, Mount Gravatt and Mount Gravatt East.
This means that comfy shoes are advised if you’re heading out on foot, and a hat, sunscreen and water to protect you from the sun and heat. If you’re riding a bike, well, try to get up speed before you head uphill. And be careful where you cycle. Brisbane is now into the 37th year of The Great Cyclist/Motorist War, and they are bitter enemies.
4. When driving, indicating is optional and merging is a sport.
If you’re trying to get into my lane, I’m going to speed up and stop you, because I’ve got somewhere to be. Letting you in will cost me an extra two, maybe three seconds of time, time you just don’t consider because every driver but me is inconsiderate.
Conversely, when I want to merge into your lane, I most certainly won’t be indicating. I know you won’t let me in, because every driver but me is inconsiderate. My only option is to suddenly pull out in front of you, generally causing you to honk, call me a d—head and almost cause an accident.
Frankly it’s terrible behaviour, and further proof every other driver but me is inconsiderate. Whatever happened to good manners?
5. We mourn things.
The Myer Centre in the middle of the Queen Street Mall used to have a theme park on the top floor. It was creatively called “Tops”, and it had a giant tree playhouse and a roller-coaster dragon ride. You would shop to the sound of children screaming and teenagers attempting to make out. Tops was awesome, and they took it away from us. A generation has never recovered.
We mourn bigger things than that too. We yearn for the trams that used to putter along our city streets, we shed tears for the beautiful Bellevue Hotel, we declare there will never be another Cloudland (although there is now). We still wish we could spend summers at Amazons Water Park at Jindalee, and for goodness’ sake, why is it so hard to rebuild the Red Hill Skate Rink?
The cynical amongst us mourn the lack of appropriate public transport, the disappearing quarter-acre block, the reason for King George Square being revamped in concrete and the 1922 abolition of our state’s upper house. Thankfully we mourned loudly enough after the Riverwalk was washed away by the 2011 floods that they built us a new one, which we love very dearly and promise to appreciate more.
6. The north side of the river is better than the south side.
Southsiders claim the opposite. They are wrong.
7. We meet at Hungry Jack’s in the mall.
If you were to lay a stone marking the smack bang centre of the CBD, it would lie just outside the Hungry Jack’s outlet in the Queen Street Mall. For years it’s been the meeting place of choice for shoppers and teenagers alike, a comforting beacon guiding the lost and the wretched to a port of safety and burgers.
It’s also a great place to get the lowdown on trending sub-cultures: the Goths of the 90s were replaced by the Emos of the 00s, and these days it’s where you’ll find roving packs of Lolita girls. Hipsters will occasionally meet there, but only ironically.
Whether you’re meeting to shop, dine, drink, visit a museum, check out a gallery, take in a show – you will never be late or lost if you agree to meet at Hungry Jack’s.
8. Our music scene is pretty darn cool.
The recent opening ofThe Triffid in Newstead is the latest chapter in Brisbane’s long and illustrious music history.
The Saints are generally regarded as a key driver in the punk movement not just in Australia but around the world, and The Go-Betweens were so darn good at crystalising Brisbane into sound that they have a bridge named after them.
The 90s saw the flowering of innovative rockers like Powderfinger, Regurgitator, Custard, Screamfeeder and Resin Dogs, indie dreamers like George, and even pop dudes Savage Garden scored some US number 1s before it all went pear-shaped.
These days some of the best rock is coming out of Brisbane: Violent Soho, Ball Park Music, Velociraptor and Hits, while Sheppard are killing it in the indie pop stakes. Oh, and Keith Urban? Totally one of us (nobody tell Caboolture we said that).
9. Did we mention the glorious weather?
It’s just worth mentioning again, really.
10. Overall, Brisbane has some cool stuff that we should probably take more pride in.
A rich indigenous history: Check out the Musgrave Park Cultural Centre or the collection of amazing indigenous artworks at the Queensland Art Gallery.
The windmill at Spring Hill: Built on the site of a former indigenous meeting place, it was operated by the convicts for whom the settlement was created.
The Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium – One of the best in the southern hemisphere. It was named after an early Scottish governor who founded the first significant observatory in Australia. Brisbane is one of the few cities in the world named after an astronomer.
Excellent coffee: We are bean snobs and proud.
Game brains: Got Fruit Ninja or Jetpack Joyride on your phone? You can thank Brisbane’s Halfbrick for that.
Nature: From the beaches of the Gold and Sunshine Coasts just an hour’s drive down or up the coast, to generous parks and green, leafy suburbs, to the flowering jacaranda trees that you can still see blooming in all their purple glory – the place really is very green and lovely compared to many cities.
Growing cultures: Brisbane produces amazing amounts of circus and cabaret work, the Brisbane Festival increases numbers and premieres year on year, and the Brisbane Powerhouse is a wonderful example of repurposed infrastructure.
A generous spirit: We all have a whinge from time to time, but when the proverbial hits the fan, we do get stuck in and help. See the 2011 Mud Army and any random karaoke night.
Drop bears and hoop snakes: These can be deadly, of course, but the City Council does regular sweeps of all urban precincts to keep numbers down (shut up the rest of you, this could be hilarious).
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