Koalas, sand dunes and beaches often put Brisbane on the tourism map. These eight spots offer extra incentive for why the capital of the sunshine state deserves a visit.
1. Experience the architecture behind The Calile Hotel
The Calile Hotel, a sleek, 175-room property is the handiwork of Richards and Spence. This Brisbane architecture studio was also behind some of the city’s most imaginative spaces, including the Gasworks Market in Newstead and South Brisbane’s Fish Lane Town Square. The hotel channels the world of 1950s American photographer Slim Aarons, with dusty-pink fixtures, concrete archways and poolside cabanas flanked by towering palm trees. The hotel’s Neo-Brutalist aesthetic is calibrated perfectly to suit Queensland’s subtropical weather. For instance, rooms are replete with marble and oak touches and feature daybeds and semi-circular balconies – ideal for shrugging on a retro linen robe and sipping a Negroni under the stars.
2. Catch a concert at The Fortitude Music Hall
With its industrial roots, Brisbane’s gritty Fortitude Valley has long been the heartland of the city’s thriving independent music scene. But this legacy has suffered ever since the neighbourhood’s much-loved Festival Hall was demolished in 2003. Enter Fortitude Music Hall: The new venue, conceived by John Collins – former bassist of legendary Queensland band Powderfinger – takes inspiration from global music landmarks such as The Fillmore in Philadelphia. The space, which can host up to 3,300 people, aims to champion local bands alongside rising overseas acts, in keeping with Brisbane’s growing reputation as a global city.
3. Grab a cold one at Felons Brewing Co
Nothing is more definitively Brisbane than sipping an icy glass of beer in the hot afternoon sun. Felons Brewing Co is an industrial-chic brewery located at Howard Smith Wharves, a new lifestyle precinct under the historic Story Bridge. Abandoned after the company operating the wharves relocated downstream in the 1960s, the area has since been revived by a host of new bars and is now a symbol of the city’s democratic spirit. Make like a local and order Felons’ beer-battered fish and chips, then wash everything down with a crisp lager or Australian pale ale brewed on-site.
4. Enjoy a cold brew at Coffee Head Co
Caffeine is religion at this café in a South Brisbane laneway, which is fast attracting the city’s night owls alongside its early birds. Coffee Head Co pours exemplary flat whites and espressos until midnight daily. The space, which features Peruvian-inspired design elements and floor-to-ceiling windows, offers coffee from Bellissimo, an award-winning roaster based in nearby Fortitude Valley. The owners are equally serious about the rest of the establishment’s drinks menu – this includes a range of AR-T loose-leaf organic teas from the Sunshine Coast and hot chocolate from cult Melbourne brand Mörk.
5. Dig into a bowl of homemade gnocchi at CJ’s Secret Pasta Club
To many, there are few dishes that are as soul-affirming as a bowl of potato gnocchi or a plate of ravioli smothered in tomato sauce – and this goes double if it’s homemade. Comfort and nostalgia rank highly at CJ’s Secret Pasta Club. This candle-lit eatery serving hand-rolled pastas and classic Italian desserts from a West End shopfront. The 14-seater restaurant, attached to a wholesale pasta shop, features a revolving daily menu that takes cues from chef Dario Milano’s roots in northern Italy. Think melt-in-your mouth agnolotti (a type of flattened pasta from the Piedmont region) tailor-made for your favourite bottle of Nebbiolo.
6. Sample a chef’s table affair at Joy Restaurant
The Queensland capital has its share of upmarket waterside diners, but there aren’t many eateries quite like Joy. The 10-seater restaurant was the passion project of Sarah and Tim Scott. These hospitality veterans who previously worked at acclaimed Sydney venues Sepia and Automata, opened it together, although it’s now run by just Sarah. The intimate space unfolds in Fortitude Valley’s Bakery Lane and draws on the concept of omakase, the Japanese tradition where the chef chooses your menu for you. The minimalist menu changes regularly but always highlights Australian ingredients. Previous editions have included scallops with corn milk and blue-eye trevalla in a broth of roasted bones – all artfully plated and designed to pair with sparkling sake and natural wines.
7. Stock up on streetwear and designer labels at Double Double
High fashion faces off with street style at Double Double, a carefully curated lifestyle emporium on Queen Street. It’s a collaboration between the founders of Violent Green and Apartment, two Brisbane boutiques that have been contributing to the city’s creative culture for over a decade. Walk in and witness a sleek, sun-splashed space dotted with potted plants and art installations, where you’ll find global brands such as Comme des Garçons and Opening Ceremony sharing shelf space with new, emerging labels such as New Zealand-based Kowtow.
8. Sip on a glass at City Winery
If you’re a wine obsessive in Brisbane, an afternoon at a vineyard would typically call for trips out of the city to wine regions such as the Granite Belt in the southwest. But City Winery, an urban micro-winery co-founded by Gerler Wines’ Dave Cush in a Fortitude Valley warehouse, delivers all the pleasures of sampling a velvety grenache or a crisp glass of fiano – minus the lengthy drive times. The winery, which features a 70-seater restaurant along with a private dining room and cellar, focuses on small-batch, minimal-intervention varietals sourced from growers around Australia. The food here is anything but an afterthought – think dishes such as smoked mussels and grass-fed sirloin cooked over an open fire.
Please check the establishments’ respective websites for opening hours as well as booking requirements before visiting, and remember to adhere to safe-distancing measures while out and about.
The information is accurate as of press time. For the latest travel advisory updates, please refer to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ website.
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This article was originally published in the July 2019 issue of SilverKris magazine