ROOM AT THE INN

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - TRAVEL & INDULGENCE - CHRIS­TINE McCABE

At the new­est Ry­dges ho­tel, opened re­cently in Bris­bane’s down­town show­grounds precinct, the con­cept of pad­dock to plate has been ex­panded to in­clude the bed. Sit­ting in the mid­dle of ev­ery cus­tom king bil­let at Ry­dges For­ti­tude Val­ley is a cush­ion fea­tur­ing a fetch­ing pho­to­graphic im­age of a friendly duck, cow, sheep or horse, and it’s just one of the many de­sign homages this smart new prop­erty makes to a part of town that has strong links with Queens­land’s agri­cul­tural com­mu­nity. There’s a Pad­dock Bar — no cow pats, just jolly good mar­ti­nis — and a Six Acres Restau­rant spe­cial­is­ing in steaks from Gympie and the Dar­ling Downs.

I grew up in the bush and an an­nual fam­ily pil­grim­age to the Royal Ade­laide Show was the high­light of the year. Any­one who has fond mem­o­ries of the wood chop­ping, grand arena pa­rade and thrilling show­bag hall at royal agri­cul­tural shows around the coun­try will feel a lit­tle fris­son of de­light when check­ing in to the groovy lobby of the 208-room Ry­dges For­ti­tude Val­ley.

The ho­tel is di­rectly op­po­site the old RNA Show­grounds with its hand­some tim­ber pavil­ions and old­fash­ioned bench seat­ing. I re­mem­ber sit­ting on rock­hard planks just like these, usu­ally in the rain, watch­ing small coun­try kids in white coats wran­gling enor­mous bulls and women be­ing shot from canons. Close your eyes and you can al­most hear the thwack of an axe on wood and coiffed cows low­ing in their stalls.

This part of Bris­bane is un­der­go­ing a dra­matic $2.9 bil­lion trans­for­ma­tion, so these days you’ll find the old show­bag hall in the smart new Royal In­ter­na­tional Ex­hi­bi­tion Cen­tre with its vast, state-of-the-art con­ven­tion and meet­ing fa­cil­i­ties, host­ing events and fes­ti­vals year­round. Apartment blocks and cafes are sprout­ing like wheat af­ter rain along King Street, help­ing to trans­form this into the city’s new­est life­style precinct, thus mak­ing the four-star Ry­dges a good base for busi­ness or leisure, and a sure-fire win­ner for vis­i­tors from the coun­try.

The Pad­dock Bar has a pretty out­door ter­race over­look­ing the old show­ground arena, while in the light­filled Six Acres — the walls dec­o­rated with blue and white plates and the shed-like ceil­ing mak­ing it feel a lit­tle like an ur­ban barn — ex­ec­u­tive chef Francesco Trucco brings his Lig­urian her­itage to bear on the Queens­land pro­duce.

The restau­rant’s name com­mem­o­rates the pur­chase of six acres of land from Mrs Petty in 1909, the year of the Ju­bilee ex­hi­bi­tion, cel­e­brat­ing five decades since the sep­a­ra­tion of Queens­land from NSW. “Petty’s Pad­dock” was de­vel­oped to in­clude pig, poul­try and sheep pavil­ions. Now you can find them all on the menu.

The ho­tel gue­strooms are se­ri­ously comfy and fea­ture free Wi-Fi. The beds are dressed in down du­vets and squishy pil­lows, the wall-mounted tele­vi­sion is the size of a drive-in screen, and the large en­suites in­clude an ex­cel­lent shower with fixed and hand­held wa­ter heads.

These thor­oughly mod­ern ameni­ties are aug­mented by ru­ral ref­er­ences such as images of old trac­tors and fer­ris wheels on the walls. The cor­ri­dor car­pets are pat­terned like barn­yard tim­bers, and cof­fee is served with su­gar in lit­tle milk pails. The ho­tel also has a pool, gym and meet­ing fa­cil­i­ties.

Chris­tine McCabe was a guest of Ry­dges For­ti­tude Val­ley. Ry­dges For­ti­tude Val­ley, 601 Gre­gory Ter­race, Bowen Hills. Phone (07) 3188 3000; ry­dges.com.

TAR­IFF

From $169 a night.

GET­TING THERE

Twenty min­utes from the air­port, a nine-minute walk to For­ti­tude Val­ley train sta­tion and a sev­en­minute drive from the CBD.

CHECK­ING IN

This ho­tel should prove pop­u­lar with gra­ziers in town for the show, and cor­po­rate trav­ellers meet­ing in the Royal In­ter­na­tional Ex­hi­bi­tion Cen­tre.

WHEEL­CHAIR AC­CESS

Yes.

BEADTIME READ­ING

The Sheep-Pig King-Smith.

BRICK­BATS BOU­QUETS

by Dick

STEP­PING OUT

You’re just a 10-minute walk from the bars, cafes and bou­tiques of For­ti­tude Val­ley.

More pay TV chan­nels, please.

Those cush­ions are adorable and how man­age­ment will pre­vent guests stuff­ing them in their suit­cases, I have no idea. Be pa­tient, plans are afoot to pro­duce more for sale. Sure beats a show­bag, and that’s say­ing some­thing.

Clock­wise from main: airy lobby at Ry­dges For­ti­tude Val­ley; colour­fully ap­pointed gue­stroom; Six Acres Restau­rant; cock­tail time at The Pad­dock Bar

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