I guessed that most people’s dismissal of Brisbane as a worthy spot to spend more than a couple of days was a rather hasty judgment. Because I couch surf, I get to see a slightly different side of any given city than your average backpacker, so I tend to like to give myself more time. Five days in Brisbane sounded good, so there we go. But alas! There was an issue with the going (flooded into Rainbow Beach for what ended up being two extra days), and I didn’t want to tamper too much with The Plan this early on, so my five days were cut down to three in Queensland’s capital. I was right that it wasn’t enough.
My slightly-too-short red couch was located in a sweet flat right on the river in West End – a funky suburb filled with ethnic food, used bookstores, and harmless hipsters. I spent a good couple of days trotting around Brisbane, and what seemed like even longer shredding up dance floors in some of the many, many bars that litter the city.
Brisbane is a cool city. With relatively few obvious tourist attractions compared to its more southerly neighbours, Melbourne and Sydney, Brisbane fails to delight many a tourist. Perhaps I was just keen to be in a city again – any city – but I did very much enjoy ambling around. A highlight of Brisbane is the Powerhouse, a renovated power plant that has been converted into an arts centre. You get your artsy wine bar hanging out next to theatre space all accessed by hallways covered graffiti featuring an Australian photography exhibition. An intriguing art display had people write messages on bits of paper, put them in tiny bottles, and pin them to a place on a world map. Heart-string-twanging if not entirely original.
I also spent the better part of one afternoon wandering through art galleries, which never fails to put me in a better mood than I was just prior, especially when said art galleries feature an impressive display from Papua New Guinea. Must visit this country.
One of the other things that makes Brisbane exponentially better than it would be is the existence of the Brisbane City Cats. These catamaran-style pedestrian ferries cruise at a good clip up and down the river that cuts through the city. Public transit on boat is far better than other forms of public transit. I shall remember this when searching for jobs and houses in Sydney. Ferry to work is better than bus to work.
One of my couch hosts happened to be a whiz in the kitchen and among the many delicious meals he whipped up was one consisting of mostly snacks – chorizo, halloumi, asparagus spears wrapped in prosciutto, Turkish bread, dips, etc. This is one of my absolute favourite ways to enjoy a meal. Chris was from Perth and through a series of events (such as anyone’s life) ended up in Brisbane. Along the way he had managed to spend a good chunk of time travelling around Oz in a campervan. Incidentally, he reminded me a lot of Brad, an Aussie I couch surfed with who lives in a campervan in and around Byron Bay. Brad’s campervan is also where I tried halloumi for the first time. Delicious things cooked out of a campervan taste much better than they would out of a regular kitchen. Remember that.