Story Bridge with Red Lights over Howard Smith Wharves – RICHARD GREENWOOD
The Australian city of Brisbane is energetic, youthful, and exuberant, with the vibe and lifestyle of a perpetually sunny place. It’s emerging as a must-see Down Under destination for Americans, who can thank United Airlines for recently initiating nonstop service from San Francisco.
The fresh-faced city has been on a high since it was named the host of the Summer Olympics and Paralympic Games for 2032.
“Not many cities get the opportunity to have a decade to prepare for the Olympics,” said Callum Wood, Head of Marketing for the Brisbane Economic Development Agency. “Rather than build new buildings, we’re upgrading existing structures and erecting temporary ones, which is much more sustainable. We’re not going on a building frenzy.”
Well, maybe not a frenzy, but on a recent visit, there was construction aplenty. This beautiful city of 2.2 million people on either side of the Brisbane River may not be as developed or densely populated as Sydney or Melbourne. Yet it still feels like a growing city, secure in its position as the gateway to the state of Queensland, with some of the country’s most coveted attractions nearby. They include the Sunshine Coast to the north, the Gold Coast to the South, the Great Barrier Reef, and the Daintree Rain Forest. The palm-fringed coastline has dozens of islands, like Moreton Island, the scenic and worthy tropical substitute for Bali in the recent George Clooney and Julia Roberts film, “Ticket to Paradise.”
The city has plenty of boosters, pointing to the high quality of life and easy outdoor access. That explains why Brisbane saw the highest level of internal migration in Australia during the Covid pandemic, with most newcomers arriving from Sydney and Melbourne enticed by the laid-back lifestyle, affordability, and space.
The Central Business District is lined with more than 300 high-rise buildings, enough to let you know that this is a substantial city but without the urban density of Sydney or Melbourne. To take in the spectacle, plan on lunch at the Terrace Rooftop Bar with its retractable ceiling and endless city views at The Emporium Hotel on the South Bank.
This metropolis has capitalized on the miles of waterfront along the Brisbane River, which snakes through the city. I enjoyed seeing Brisbane on foot and checking out the lush Brisbane City Botanic Gardens on the North Bank. A stroll across the Goodwill pedestrian bridge to the South Bank brought me to the Queensland Maritime Museum, past Streets Beach and the Boat Pool, where families were enjoying urban beach life, and then to the campus known as QAGOMA. It’s an acronym for the Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art, which hold some 20,000 artworks focusing on Indigenous and Asian Pacific art. On the way back up the river, it was a breeze to hop on the ferry system, the CityCat, to travel on the river.
Fortitude Valley, especially its main artery, James Street, is where Moreton Bay fig trees offer shade as you stroll past nearly 100 restaurants, cafes, shops and galleries. It’s a district that’s been at the forefront of a changing Brisbane.
Originally published by Everett Potter in Forbes.com. View article HERE.