Sunday, January 13, 2013

Brisbane Chronicles

Just when you’d given up hope that I’d ever write about Brisbane…
 
Brisbane is not a city many have heard of. Say Australia and most will assume it’s either Sydney or Melbourne. And why not! Isn’t it where our chachera Chacha, Billoo ki mausi and Mrs Gupta’s only daughter live! If a few of you are familiar with the city, you’d probably know it for the iconic Gabba stadium.

Brisbane, the capital of Queensland has less to do with the Queen and more to do with sunshine. Thanks to the missing ozone layer the sun is so harsh that within the first few weeks you start resembling a well-roasted tomato. Skin cancer is a huge scare here and we all slather ourselves with sunblock because our lives depend on it. It does have a Queen Street though named after Queen Victoria. All streets in the central business district (CBD) that run parallel to this street are named after female members of the royal family – Margaret, Charlotte, Ann, Adelaide, Mary, Alice while George, Edward, Albert, William run perpendicular to them. Royalty gets to meet only at intersections.

Locals call the city Brissy. Aussies have this amazing habit of shortening words – after a brekky of coffee and toast, people kill time in office only to get back home to watch footy on TV. Got it? Most are fanatically religious about their fitness regime and it shows and how! If there are some fat Aussies, they have done a good job of hiding themselves from me. All I see is tattooed hunks and women with fantastic figures.

And no Aussie will be caught dead with a bottle of Fosters beer, as the ads will have us believe. Fosters made in Australia is only popular in India.

Flanked by Sunshine coast and Gold coast on either side, Brisbane like most Australian cities is built around a river. In fact the city derives its name from the river around which it sits. My apartment is on the riverside and I can spend the entire day just staring at it. Never a dull moment – one can spot kayaking enthusiasts on a late night outing holding up lights, tanned Greek Gods speeding around in the water scooters, their ex-dads partying in their yacht, the city-cat catamarans busy ferrying commuters, the cafes and restaurants on its banks buzzing with activity. It’s the sounds of laughter and raucous singing by drunk boys and girls that fill up my otherwise quiet days.




The Iconic Story Bridge

Brisbane is quiet and too sane for comfort. Especially when you come from a city that honks, claws, barks its way through the crowds. And what’s worse it goes to bed by 9. But then one can’t help it, if there’s bright sunshine piercing through your curtains at 4.30 A.M!

Late night dining is as alien a concept as chivalry is in my motherland. I spent my first few weeks, raving and ranting about this uncivilized culture that closes shop at 5 and wears a deserted look by sundown. I mean what is one supposed to do in the evenings – watch TV? Thank God, there’s Friday when everyone dresses up in their skimpiest best and parties with a vengeance.

Everyone had warned me that I’d soon become one of them and slip into my pyjamas by nine. I haven’t, at least not yet.



Brisbane River





The Treasury House






Queen Street Mall - Image courtesy Google


There’s lot to do in this city during the day time. One can take a soak with a battalion of noisy kids in the manmade swimming beach pools of Southbank, treat oneself to Italian, Chinese, Greek, Tibetan, Japanese, Indian, Mexican, Vietnamese cuisine in one of the many restaurants dotting the city. Watch movies in the open air theatres, musicals in the Queensland Performing Arts centre, go museum hopping, immerse oneself in masterpieces at the GOMA (Gallery of Modern Art) or take a walk in the Botanical Gardens. James Street has some great watering holes for the undomesticated and the domesticated ones can press their nose against show-windows admiring the Italian pumps retailing for 900 AUD. (1 AUD = appx 58 INR) For antique shopping there’s the lovely Given Terrace in Paddington. For retail therapy there’s the Queen Street mall (where you can also watch some amazing street performances), Westfield Malls, Indooroopilly, Toowong and many more that I have yet to explore. If you are in mood for some adventure, you can always book a climb to Brisbane’s iconic Story Bridge, trek up the lit-up weathered walls of Kangaroo Point Cliffs or go Kayaking down the Brisbane River. And if you want to chill out, book a river cruise and dance to Lady Gaga. For the Vegas feel, you can gamble your accumulated riches at the Treasury Casino House, located in a heritage building.


To get a vantage view of the city, take a bus to the scenic Mt. Coot-tha, the highest peak in Brisbane, where you can sip coffee and take in the beautiful sights. If you want to cuddle up to the Koalas and pat the Kangaroos, head to the Lone Pine Sanctuary, a mere 12 km drive from the city. I promise you won’t regret it!





View from Mt Coot-tha

Weekends get even better – mountain side retreats (Mt Tamborine, Montville), sunny coastlines (Moreton Bay, Noosa, Gold Coast, Stradbroke Island, Manly), tropical rainforests (O’ Reilly, Springbrook, Kondalilla Falls) are all a mere hour’s drive away. If you are in the city, you can browse your way through Farmer's markets.
 
The city enjoys a warm sub-tropical climate, with warm to humid summer and moderately cold winters. Thunderstorms are pretty common here but enjoy uncommon coverage by news channels. The last time we had a hailstorm, news channels couldn’t stop gushing about it. The Indian in me can’t stop sniggering. Ha! We deal with scams, murders, arsons, rapes on a daily basis and when it rains we get stuck in jams for hours!

My face mostly wears a peaceful look now barring the odd muscle soreness I get for getting too adventurous in my fitness classes. I’m convinced that my instructor is trying to kill me and it certainly doesn’t help that his smile can launch a thousand ships. So, every morning I limp my way to the health club, ready to put myself through some more torture.

If you’re planning to visit Brisbane, make sure you pack a sturdy pair of walking shoes. It’s a great city to walk around, with all its attractions not too far away from each other. If you get tired, you can always catch a bus, take a river ferry, sit in of the cafes and soak the city’s warm vibe, as you sip your coffee. It’s possible someone walking by might pick a French fry off your plate and say hmm! This is quite good! Don’t be alarmed, just put on your best smile and say, wanna grab a beer, mate?



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62 comments:

  1. Sounds like my kind of city, Purba. I'm the early to wear pyjamas kind! I love laid back cities.

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    Replies
    1. Well, what are you waiting for? Book a ticket for Brissy!

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  2. Awesome guide to Brisbane. Thanks for those little known facts. Very informative.

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  3. Very well-written, this one.
    I could almost picture myself on the streets of Brisbane.
    For a true blue Mumbaikar like me, who many a times leaves office around 9 PM, this sounds like too laid back, though. :)

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    Replies
    1. But! you get to be home by 5.30 and everyone respects your holidays.

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  4. Loved reading about Brisbane through your kind of literature for an change ;)

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    Replies
    1. Hahaha @ my kind of literature :p

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  5. Purba,

    Very informative and as usual with some digs also in expected ways. Thanks for this virtual visit and good photographs.

    Take care

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  6. Thanks for the tour...good you are making most of what the city has to offer.

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    Replies
    1. Yes and there's more to discover.

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  7. Just loved it Purba. You seem to be living in my dream city. Lucky girl, you find tattooed man every where.. Oh! goodness..
    You work out every morning? my goodness!!! *sulking*
    I always tell others 'what is the point in going to famous places? It is always crowded. To know a country's/region culture, history, architecture, go to relatively smaller city.
    We are planning to visit less famous cities in Europe like Warsaw, countries like Estonia, Norway, Slovenia, Croatia, Sarajevo (this city will be real challenge)
    Enjoy your time in there :-))

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    Replies
    1. Excuse me! you are preparing for a travel marathon and I'm the lucky one?

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    2. no, I was talking about tattooed men with muscles :-)

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  8. My kinda place....lazy,sunny, peaceful and green. Make the most of it while you are there.
    So when are you getting your tattoo?

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    Replies
    1. Come to Brisbane, Alka. I'll be your guide.

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  9. aah..written in your trademark humorous style...I can feel Brisbane through you girl!!....

    http://www.myunfinishedlife.com/

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    Replies
    1. I am going to focus on the "girl" part :p

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  10. Fun post! Oh yes, the first thing that hits you when you move to a city outside India is the lack of noise. Really, we have so much noise in India, and we talk noisily too :). Another great thing is the great space to walk. People respect pedestrians and you are sure that they won't run you down. How's the food scene? Indian food sucks abroad, but one can find neat places for other stuff. Keep them posts coming. And, do you find the accent difficult. I have worked with some Aussie clients. And over phone calls on skype, my every second sentence goes "Pardon?" :)

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Queensladers have distinctive accents and yes I spent the first few weeks trying to figure out the drawl!

      I have a big bowl of white chocolates and no one to give them too. Damn! I'm even missing the beggars.

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  11. I am coming to Brisbane Now !!!

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    1. Psst... Malaysian Airlines has the most convenient connections.

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  12. I am sure we crossed over that bridge.. cant remember if it was on way to gold coast or otherwise :( ..
    DO tell me if i am right or my geography completly sucks :)

    It will take ages to bring al those changes back home ...

    http://mannbikram.wordpress.com/2013/01/13/lohri-festival/

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    Replies
    1. It's possible you crossed Story Bridge, depends on which direction you were travelling from.

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  13. I was in Brisbane for a week, years ago. Walked till my feet hurt. Gorgeous place to live in.

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    1. Most find Brisbane too slow. Delighted that you liked it.

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  14. Dearest Auntius Purbus,

    Ok...how much did the Australian Government pay you for this advertisement?
    And really? - "sounds of laughter and raucous singing by drunk boys " So...yeah..you are basically in Gurgaon.
    But please click and send photographs of the women there. Preferably those who are 23 to 25 years old.

    Take Care

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    Replies
    1. Dear Snow Cub,

      You are hereby appointed as my representative to demand remuneration for my efforts. While you are at it, you are surreptitiously click Aussie beauties. If you get slapped, don't come crying to me.

      Delete
  15. First time I am reading a travel post on your blog, Purba and a very captivating post it is too! For me, the stand-out line was "Royalty meets only at intersections" - being accustomed to humor here :)

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    1. I occasionally write travel posts on my blog :-)

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  16. Purba after reading this wholesome post on Brisbane , I regret having missed it by a whisker due paucity of time on a visit to Gold Coast and Sydney! Your post has awakend the craving for the place yet again:)

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    Replies
    1. Come to Brisbane, Rahul. I will plan your itinerary.

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  17. Don't tell me the city closes down by sundown!!!! This is so surprising! What do people do in the evening? Watch TV?
    Ahem, as for the hunks--dang I need to come for sight-seeing-:)
    I like the fact it is green and walkable. I love cities where you can walk easily for miles. Hate Chennai for the same reason. Looks like everything around you is interesting and exciting! Enjoy the days, Gurgaon girl!

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    1. And we"ll go dancing together~~~.

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  18. A different kind of post. I was expecting something different but enjoyed it :) Beautiful city

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    1. Curious to know what you were expecting.

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  19. Looks like a description of utopia to me :)
    Absolutely perfect life far removed from the madness that is Mumbai life.

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    Replies
    1. Sigh! it's same madness that I miss over here :-)

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  20. Thanks for such a lovely narration.....

    http://debnature.blogspot.in

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  21. See I always told you - you can be a good travel writer. Loved your crisp, precise and personal Brissy Chronicles. Having stayed with Brissy's older cousin for half a year, I could relate to each and every syllable here. Thank God you wrote about Foster's. I had a torrid time in explaining my desi beer boosers that 90% of Aussies haven't heard of Foster's!

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    1. Na...I still think I have a long way to go. But thank you so much for your kind words.

      P.S Have you told them about Jacob's Creek yet?

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  22. You are awesome as a travel writer. Don't know if you will like this or not, but I wanted to share my newly created blog here.

    http://anair903.blogspot.co.nz/

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    Replies
    1. will certainly be reading your blog.

      Delete
  23. Nice..Pretty interesting..I have heard it is like this in Melbourne also..What are you doing there?

    love
    http://www.meghasarin.com

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    1. Melbourne is very European and far more diverse than Brisbane. Guess I'll finally know when I visit the city in March.

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  24. Now you have made me nostalgic about my Manchester days. :(

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  25. Gilli for gilchrist, eh? ;)

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    1. Definitely mossie for mosquitoes!

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  26. I was one of those whom you have mentioned in your opening para :) Good that when it came the Brissy round-up came with a bang. And after hearing so much about Mebourne and Sydney, all the info comes as a pleasant surprise. All I have known about the city is, as you have said, the Gabba. I trust this is a series?

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    1. Gabba is a cricket stadium :-)
      And no, I wasn't referring to you in the opening para.

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  27. A nice read of my city :-) This month marks 15 years in Ozistan and almost all of them in Brissie. This is the city that my children have grown up in and the one constant factor that will shape their childhood memories. There are people who claim that its a dull and boring city but I like this city and it has grown upon me in all these years. Builders and property developers are changing the urban landscape but there still 'daggy' places where you can go. I still like wandering around West End, slipping in and browsing books in the Avid Reader bookstore or buying Asian groceries in Inala. The city is my home now.

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    1. Ah! what a pleasant surprise to see a comment from a Brissie local.

      I love that people are so friendly and warm here and that it hosts a wonderful Durga Pujo.

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  28. I knew about the cricket stadium, and nothing else. A lovely post, made me laugh many times, informative too. Thanks.

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    1. So glad I managed to tickle your funny bone :-)

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  29. Thanks for sharing very informative information about Brisbane.

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  30. Wow.. It's really getting me psyched for our Oz trip in 2014. Can't wait. I've driven the entire coast, till just before Brisbane, can't wait to finally go there. :)
    www.different-doors.com

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  31. Good description of Brissy provided in ur post...dere were many incidents in d past abt aussie attacking Indians...did u find any difference in dere behaviour towards us?

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