TIME Declares Brisbane Australia’s Top City
Every day, the internet pours lists at us, from the top five Bond movies to the top 50 songs of the 80s. Most of the time we pay them only passing attention, as one man’s Goldfinger is another’s Casino Royale. It can be fun, but it’s usually subjective and mostly meaningless.
There are some exceptions, such as when the list is from a respected panel of experts instead of an overworked staff writer rushing to meet a deadline. Every year, TIME magazine shares its 50 most spectacular places.
Traditionally, Australia is well-represented on the list. This year, however, there are just two locations. Kangaroo Island, off the south coast of Australia close to Adelaide, is a constant presence, and rightly so. It is a genuinely unique oasis for Australia’s remarkable flora and fauna. But one of Australia’s state capitals also made the list.
This is the point at which the Victorians and New South Welshmen would start to sharpen their swords. Will it be Melbourne or Sydney? In this case, their ongoing battle for supremacy is a moot point. Neither made the top 50. But Queensland’s Brisbane did.
Those in the know will not be remotely surprised. Its proximity to resorts like the Gold Coast and the wonderful climate lead people to associate the city with water sports and other leisure activities. But there is a lot more to Brisbane than the sun, sea, and surf scene.
Cultural attractions at the Arts Precinct
The Arts Precinct is one of Australia’s most spectacular arts hubs. You’ll find it on the Southbank of the Brisbane River, and the main landmarks are the Queensland Art Gallery (QAG), the Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA), and the Queensland Museum.
QAG displays a mixture of artwork both by local Queenslanders and from across Australia and around the world. GOMA, meanwhile, has a great range of unusual contemporary pieces, again by both local and international artists. The Queensland Museum is next to the QAG and has some incredible human and natural history artifacts. All three are free to visit, so you can spend an incredible day soaking up the culture.
The Southbank is also home to the Performing Arts Centre and the Conservatorium of Music. Whether you are into ’70s pop or string quartets, there is something for everyone. All that culture is good for the appetite, and there is a fabulous array of eateries on the Southbank, from coffee shops and snack stands to restaurants including Greek, Mexican, Asian, and plenty more.
First-rate cuisine across the city
Speaking of food, the Southbank only reflects a few of Brisbane’s culinary attractions. The city is a foodie’s paradise. Brisbane is known for its first-rate seafood, homegrown beef, amazing avocados, bananas, and other tropical fruits.
As well as the Southbank, Fortitude Valley is another great place to head and pick a restaurant. If you like sushi, you’ll be in seventh heaven. If you don’t, try it anyway; if anywhere will convert you, Brisbane will!
Also, don’t neglect dessert. Brisbane is home to the lamington, a traditional Australian sponge cake coated in chocolate and coconut. In a nod to Australia’s colonial roots, it is named after Lord Lamington, who was Governor of Queensland between 1896 and 1901. It is best enjoyed with a cup of tea.
Casino nights with pokies galore
Australians love their pokies. Otherwise known as slot machines, you’ll see them in pubs, hotels, cafés, truck stops – just about everywhere. At least, that used to be the case, but changing attitudes and technological advances have driven many Australian pokie enthusiasts online, where Bitcoin casinos and other digital initiatives have improved the odds for players.
That’s great from a pragmatic perspective, but there’s nothing quite like the sight and sound of a room full of pokies. The biggest collection of them is at Brisbane’s Treasury Casino. Forget the Philistines at the super casinos in Sydney, all glass and Tic Toc soundbites; the Treasury is an old-fashioned casino in the James Bond style. All luxury and pomp, it’s the perfect place to dust off the bow tie – but only if you want to. It might be traditional, but it is still Australian. Thongs are permitted before 6 PM, but make a little effort in the evening, and at least put a pair of shoes on. Shorts and t-shirts are still ok as long as there are no offensive slogans.
The casino is an Aladdin’s Cave for gamblers. If you like poker, there’s everything from Texas Holdem tournaments to three-card games against the dealer. There are more than 1,300 gaming machines where you can play all the most popular pokies, and there are dozens of table games, including roulette, baccarat, blackjack, and craps.
Communing with nature in Australia’s greenest city
One of the first things visitors tend to notice about Australia is the city’s huge green space. These include the following:
- Southbank Parklands – located right on the riverfront, this promenade might be small but beautiful. To one side, you have the Arts Precinct, to the other, the river with the CBD beyond. What could be more picturesque? Streets Beach is a lot of fun on a hot sunny day, and Brisbane has no shortage of those.
- Brisbane Botanic Gardens – just across the river on the north shore, you’ll find this landmark botanical garden home to an array of plant life, ponds, and picnic areas. It’s also a fabulous venue for an evening concert.
- Roma Street Parkland – a short walk to the north of the city takes you to Roma Street Parkland. It is an immense subtropical garden containing different themed areas with sculptures, artworks, and a beautiful open-air amphitheater.
As well as the parks, there is Australia Zoo, made famous by the late great Steve Irwin. Steve’s son Robert continues his father’s legacy with his daily crocodile show. The zoo does fantastic conservation work, so be sure to visit and give your support.