The Queensland Times - - WEEKEND - WORDS: ANN RICKARD­

The on­go­ing nar­ra­tive of Bris­bane’s emer­gence to one day per­haps out­shine its south­ern coun­ter­parts con­tin­ues to please Queens­lan­ders.

Ev­ery­one loves a story of op­ti­mism, of a city on the move, cranes on the hori­zon, ef­fi­cient new in­fra­struc­ture on the plan­ning board, five-star ho­tels pop­ping up along with bou­tique and art ho­tels, shop­ping malls re­vamped into al­most fu­tur­is­tic won­der­lands.

There’s plenty of talk of Bris­bane step­ping on to the in­ter­na­tional stage as Aus­tralia’s next ‘world city’.

We were aware of all this, but on our visit a cou­ple of weeks ago, Bris­bane was all about the jacaran­das. The city be­comes a gi­ant, soft, mauve art­work in Oc­to­ber/No­vem­ber as it gen­tly bursts into an ocean of pur­ple, re­duc­ing even the most un­ro­man­tic into a dreamy-eyed lover.

No mat­ter where you wan­der this time of year, from the City Botanic Gar­dens to New Farm to Kan­ga­roo Point, there is that soft pur­ple rain fall­ing on you, set­tling on roads, parks, foot­paths, gar­dens, mak­ing a vel­vety car­pet you hate to spoil but love to tread on.

It’s a spring gift to ev­ery­one – and no vis­i­tor can re­sist.

Af­ter an over­dose of mauve spring blos­soms comes our next favourite thing to do in Bris­bane. Check out the new eater­ies, bars and ho­tels.

The newly opened Donna Chang restau­rant in Ge­orge St is the city’s lat­est buzz. With good rea­son. Fine Chi­nese cui­sine in a her­itage build­ing (the old Queens­land Gov­ern­ment Sav­ings Bank) means it doesn’t get much bet­ter. Try to guess the amount of money that has been poured into restor­ing the beau­ti­ful old build­ing and the restau­rant fit-out, not to men­tion the ob­vi­ous pas­sion to make this a stand-out restau­rant, and you hear your­self say­ing ‘world-class’.

Not far away in the ever-buzzing James St with its stylish shops and air of good for­tune, the newly opened bou­tique Calile Ho­tel called us in.

So new, it has not yet stamped its foot­print, but it screams out money well in­vested.

A wan­der into the light-filled Lobby Bar with its acres of pink mar­ble, long wrap-around bar and floor-to-ceil­ing win­dows over­look­ing James St speaks of an­other ele­ment of a city tak­ing it­self se­ri­ously.

Even though it was just 11am we had to pull up a bar stool, or­der a gin and tonic, re­sist the bar menu and then have a wan­der up to Calile’s level one, the pool deck where Hel­lenika restau­rant sits im­pos­ingly over­look­ing the pool.

The new sis­ter venue to the Gold Coast restau­rant of that name was al­ready alive at mid­day with guests shar­ing plates of mezedes over plenty of lively bon­homie – maybe con­tem­plat­ing com­ing back to din­ner in one of the ca­banas around the pool.

Later that night it was over to South Bank to ex­pe­ri­ence Bris­bane’s new rooftop bar. Raves of this one had reached our ears from al­most ev­ery lo­cal we knew, very proud of the new Em­po­rium Ho­tel South Bank.

There is a lot of love here – the daz­zling red decor of the foyer and in­side the lift as it whisks you up to the 21st floor to The Ter­race rooftop bar with its white back-lit onyx floor and 13m back-lit bar.

Or­der an uber-trendy cock­tail and wan­der out­side where panoramic Bris­bane at night twin­kles all its charms and you ap­pre­ci­ate why the lo­cals are so proud.

We man­aged to fit in just a teeny taste of Bris­bane’s new ex­cite­ments. There is so much more, some to open soon, the Howard Smith Wharves devel­op­ment with its green spa­ces, bou­tique ho­tel, over­wa­ter bar and river­side restau­rants is go­ing to be a show­stop­per.

From our first Bris­bane visit in 1988 for Expo, we fell in love with the city. Maybe it was the use of the river we made, tak­ing the ferry to get to and from Expo, maybe it was the sharp light of Bris­bane af­ter the dull grey of Mel­bourne. We had a ‘feel­ing in our wa­ters’ as Kath would say that this was a city with a thrilling fu­ture once those south­ern folks dis­cov­ered its sub-trop­i­cal cli­mate and all the good stuff that goes with it.

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