By Jonathan Smith
The state capital of Queensland has added a touch of cool to the traditional Aussie lifestyle of beaches and barbecues.
While Australia has enjoyed a quarter-century of strong economic growth since its last recession, Brisbane and Queensland have fared even better, consistently outperforming the national average. This trend is set to continue, according to Deloitte Access Economics, with forecast annual growth of 3.6 per cent in Queensland up to 2022. The forecast national five-year annual average growth rate to that point, by comparison, is 2.8 per cent.
The Sydney and Melbourne property markets are suffering a hangover after a heady 85 per cent increase in sale prices over the past five years, but Brisbane has enjoyed more sustainable growth, averaging 3.4 per cent a year. The median house price in Sydney still tops A$1.1m ($780,000), despite a drop of 6.5 per cent in the year to September 2018, but in Brisbane it is a more affordable A$567,376, up 2.2 per cent.
Two coasts are better than one
The “lucky country” has more than its fair share of beautiful beaches, and residents of Brisbane have some of the best on their doorstep. The Gold Coast, which hosted the 2018 Commonwealth Games, is an hour south of the city and is renowned as Australia’s party capital, with Surfers Paradise at its centre.
For a more low-key, low-rise beach experience, head 90 minutes north to the Sunshine Coast and its upmarket resorts such as Mooloolaba or Noosa.
Not previously particularly known for its food or nightlife, Eat Street Northshore market, Brisbane’s version of the container park and street food phenomenon, now offers an array of global eateries, with a strong Asian presence (Japanese pizza, anyone?) and some outrageous sweet treats.
With more than 70 outlets, the riverside venue also features live music, shopping and craft beers — no mass-market Australian brews such as Foster’s or Castlemaine are to be had. It is open at weekends in Hamilton on the northern fringe of the city centre.
In the heart of the city beside the Brisbane River, this 17-hectare sub-tropical parkland offers something for most tastes. The premier attraction is Streets Beach, a superb swimming lagoon bordered by pristine white sand. Other swimming spots include the Aquativity children’s water park and Boat Pool, a deeper lagoon.
Queensland’s major cultural institutions, including the state museums, galleries and library, are also to be found at South Bank, alongside cinemas and the Wheel of Brisbane for aerial views of the city. There are cafés, pubs and restaurants throughout the park area.
Thousands of visitors a year head to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, 14km south-west of Brisbane city centre, to cuddle one of Australia’s national icons. If that is too touristy for you, the Brisbane Koala Bushland, 15km south-east of the central business district, offers the chance to spot the marsupials in protected natural areas.
Brisbane Whale Watching promises humpback sightings on its daily cruises in Moreton Bay from June to November, with dolphin viewing a regular bonus. Visitors to Moreton Island can hand-feed bottlenose dolphins at the Tangalooma Marine Education and Conservation Centre.
Photographs: Dreamstime; Filip Fuxa; Alamy; Getty Images/WaterFrame RM