Neighborhoods of Brisbane
Jutting out over the city’s big, brown waterway, the Brisbane Riverwalk offers a novel way of surveying the Brisbane skyline. The 870m-long path – divided into separate walking and cycling lanes – runs between Howard Smith Wharves and the salubrious suburb of New Farm. The Riverwalk replaces the original floating walkway, washed away in the floods of 2011.
On the eastern flank of New Farm Park stands the Powerhouse, a once-derelict power station superbly transformed into a contemporary arts centre. Its innards pimped with graffiti remnants, industrial machinery and old electrical transformers-turned-lights, the centre hosts a range of events, including art exhibitions, theatre, live music and comedy. You’ll also find two buzzing riverside restaurants. Check the website to see what’s on.
Green Beacon Brewing Co
In a cavernous warehouse, Green Beacon brews some of Brisbane’s best beers. The liquid beauties ferment in vats behind the long bar before flowing through the taps and onto your grateful palate. Choose from nine core beers, a house cider, or seasonal specials like a blood-orange IPA. Decent bites include fresh local seafood, and there’s typically a guest food truck out front.
Suzanne O’Connell Gallery
Set in a traditional Queenslander, this private gallery showcases high-quality contemporary art by Indigenous artists from across the continent. Works range from painting and sculpture, to ceramics, works on bark and fibre objects. Check the website for current and upcoming offerings.
Rooftop Bar in Fortitude Valley
Slip into your slinkiest threads for the Valley’s finest rooftop retreat, with a competent list of libations, including pickled-onion-pimped martinis and high-flying French champagnes. Drink in the multi-million-dollar view, which takes in the city skyline and Mt Coot-tha beyond, and schmooze to DJ-spun tunes later in the week. Dress code is especially strict on Friday and Saturday evenings; see the website. Mediterranean-inspired dishes are also served, from warm olives and arancini to pasta, grilled fish and slow-cooked lamb.
Institute of Modern Art
Located inside the industrious Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts, the non-commercial Institute of Modern Art serves up oft-interesting, thought-provoking exhibitions showcasing both Australian and international artists. Works span the gamut of media, from site-specific installations and photography, to painting and video art. The space also houses a decent art-themed bookshop. Entry via Berwick St.
TW Fine Art
With around 10 shows annually, this easy-to-miss space has a knack for showcasing fresh, boundary-pushing contemporary art from around the globe. Its fold includes American painter Max Presneill and Australian conceptual artist Briony Barr, and many of the artists exhibited are well known on the New York and LA art scenes. The space also offers an online portfolio of limited-edition prints that you can order at the gallery and have couriered directly to your door.
Channelling West LA with its low-slung architecture, lush streetscape and sports cars, this is the Valley’s most glamorous strip. The addition of the Calile Hotel complex has boosted the street’s upmarket offerings, which include numerous high-end Australian fashion labels. Standouts include colourful Camilla, Sass & Bide, indie-chic Gorman and multi-brand Wolfe & Ordnance, known for stocking harder-to-find homegrown designers. Calexico is another favourite, its separate men’s and women’s stores selling exclusive, niche labels from around the globe.
Fronted by a row of sequoia-sized Corinthian columns, Australia’s largest city hall was built between 1920 and 1930. Although free, fascinating heritage tours (45 minutes) of the sandstone behemoth should be booked in advance (online or by phone); they can be available on the day from the excellent on-site Museum of Brisbane, however, so always consider checking. Alternatively, free tours of the building’s 85m-high clock tower run every 15 minutes from 10am to 5pm; grab tickets from the museum.
Interestingly, the marble in City Hall’s foyer was sourced from the same Tuscan quarry as that used by Michelangelo to sculpt his David . It’s one of many fascinating details about the building. The Rolling Stones played their first-ever Australian gig in its magnificent auditorium in 1965, itself complete with a 4300-pipe organ, mahogany and blue-gum floors, and offering free concerts at noon every Tuesday from February to November.