I know its not something most of us really think about doing… well, I guess as kids we thought a tent in the yard was kind of a thing! So, when I suggested to my lovely partner in crime who lives in Brisbane that I was planning to have a weekend down there he was thrilled…the thrill dissolved a little when I told him I had rented an Airbnb in Auchenflower for the Australia day weekend. “But Why?” was the cry of dismay, “I have a perfectly good house in Brisbane”.
I smiled and told him I would pick him up for our wild, whirlwind weekend on the Brisbane River. To be honest I have a very sketchy mind map of Brisbane – I have lived on the Sunshine Coast for nearly 30 years, but it still consists of a few major arterial roads into the city, the performing arts centre at South Bank, the Grey Street strip of pre-theatre restaurants and a couple of shoe shops at Stones Corner, Milton and the Queen Street Mall. Booking an Airbnb on the edge of the city seemed a breeze! I drew on a conversation I had with a girlfriend who had lived in the area and decided to take a punt and book an appealingly sparkling unit for the Australia Day weekend.
And so it was that we turned the key on our pied-a-terre in downtown Auchenflower … it was crisp and clean with a covered terrace overlooking a lush, leafy green backdrop that nicely camouflaged the neat rows of units and townhouses that have started to propagate through Brisbane’s old established suburbs. I was thrilled to find we were only a short walk to one of Brisbane’s landmark hotels and a favourite watering hole for my partner.
We parked the car and headed off on foot to sample the beer and check out the dinner menu at the Regatta Hotel – what a lovely start to our Australia Day weekend in Brisvegas. I have eyed off the communal bicycles dotted around the city on my many visits to Brisbane but had never had the opportunity to take advantage of the system. I was suitably impressed with the booking system – once my partner had explained it in detail and with a bright yellow plastic helmet plastered over my hair we set off to discover Brisbane’s bike paths.
It was a wobbly start! I had ridden my heavy old Raleigh bicycle to and from school through England’s mostly chilly seasons but had not really taken up the pastime since (in spite of purchasing a bike 5 years ago when I briefly lived on a flatter part of Noosa). I was just delighted with the bikeway hugging the Brisbane River – we were naturally constantly overtaken by lycra clad experts with very pert butts – but on the whole, I thought we held a pretty good pace for a couple of novices!
I loved the idea of being able to just drop off the bike in the next bay and wander off on foot to explore other areas of Brisbane’s CBD. I also loved being able to linger in the gorgeous parkland threaded through the City, I really do think to be able to wander a city without a fixed agenda allows so much more engagement with its buildings and landscapes. We hopped on and off ferries happily exploring reaches of the river that we never knew existed – it was with great joy that we spied the Brisbane Jazz Club tucked under the Storey Bridge during a stroll along the Eagle Street wharf and were able to hop on a ferry to step back in time and spend a delightful evening with some of Brisbane’s resilient jazz players.
We returned to South Bank the next day and sauntered through the arts centre, checking out GOMA and Having jostled for a table in a bar by the edge of the river in the late afternoon on the 26th January, we were loath to let it go, so we didn’t, we staked a claim and nibbled our way through their snack menu complemented with bubbles and beer until the spectacular fireworks display was launched from barges on the water.