Australia: Brisbane QLD

My passport passes away next month and given that international travel is off the agenda for this covid year, I’ll let it lapse until things get sorted. In the meantime, I’ve rewritten my bucket list and tossed out my ambitious overseas destinations. A covid world sounds slightly dystopian, but if this is the reality, I figure staying in my own lane, the vast and beautiful Australia is not a bad trade off. Since domestic travel is very much encouraged, I’m kickstarting my 2021 Oz travels with three days in my state’s capital city, Brisbane.

A stay at the Emporium Hotel Southbank is one I can recommend if you want a great location near the river, comfortable rooms and lots of nice extras.

Nice to relax at Emporium’s infinity pool
Dinner and drinks on The Rooftop Terrace accompanied by stunning views

Southbank beats to the pulse of many drums. It’s Brisbane’s cultural precinct and here you can indulge in museums, art galleries and theatres to your heart’s content, and we did just that.

My husband rode motor bikes in his younger days and there are wistful times I know when he would love to ride again. A trip to GOMA and the excellent Motorcycle Exhibition may encourage him to throw on the leathers again.

It really was an interesting exhibition even for novices like me. That so many people have visited this exhibition is all the proof you need to purchase a ticket online. Tickets valid ’til April. http://qagoma.qld.gov.au/whats-on

World’s first steam powered motorcycle – late 1860s
Australian Whiting 1914
Moto Guzzi 1940s
New Zealander Burt Munro’s Indian Scout
Easy rider
2019 Fuller Moto
Worth checking out these generous lenders. Some have their own museums

Southbank is kicking goals with their range of restaurants and bars. Take your pick: French, Italian, Mexican, Indian, Vietnamese. There’s plenty of laidback bars as well.

Aperitivo at Aquitaine before dinner
Views from Aquitaine
I can’t take credit for this photo, but know that this Southbank gem dishes up Creole food as good as what we had in New Orleans Louisiana. Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey Liqueur added some extra heat to the palate. Creole? Not sure.
The Plough Inn Hotel at Southbank became our regular afternoon pit stop.
Southbank Beach – lifeguard on duty 7am to 10pm

Southbank’s Museum has an excellent ‘I Do’ Wedding Stories exhibit which features dresses and suits from Queensland weddings over the years. My husband had time out while I wended my way through the years, the dresses, the stories, the history. http://qm.qld.gov.au

A Dolce and Gabbana wedding
Quakers in QLD – the wedding dress hails from the 1840s. A little known fact is that Quakers are strong advocates of same sex relationships believing everyone is of equal worth. Light years ahead of their time.
Yarrabah Mission wedding dress repurposed for this exhibit. Wrist shackle and graphics on train represent suppression of indigenous culture on missions. .

Nearby, the State Library has a punk rock exhibition called Cut Copy, a collection of posters featuring Brisbane’s independent bands from 1977 to 1987 which is well worth a look.

I want to put a shout out to a little known but most interesting museum a short walk from Southbank: across Victoria Bridge, past the Treasury Building and down Queen Street Mall.

Treasury Building
Queen St Mall and its early 20th century facades

MacArthur Chambers Museum on the corner of Queen and Edward Streets was the headquarters of Douglas MacArthur, American Commander-In-Chief of the Allied Forces for the Pacific Region in 1942.

Escaping the Japanese invasion of the Philippines and fearful that the fall of the last bastion, Singapore meant Australia was a sitting duck, MacArthur headed to Brisbane to command the supply and movement of 2 million troops through the city, set up 18 US army camps in the area as well as a submarine base at New Farm for 77 subs.

A couple of hours is needed here because the information is endless; from the displays as well as the museum staff whose knowledge is first rate. Check out the website http://mmb.org.au

‘I will not have a Democrat (Roosevelt) look down on me.’ MacArthur explains his choice of George Washington’s portrait behind his desk (which is not very visible in my photo). Beautiful timber work on display.
Plane symbols show Japanese attacks. Museum staff told us that 57 merchant ships were also attacked by Japanese subs in southern Australian Ocean.

We headed over to Fish Lane for drinks at the many bars that dot this once industrial side street. Best to visit after 4pm. Having a husband who loves a drink has got to be a good thing. http://explorefishlane.com.au

For readers outside Australia, know that we are doing OK with covid. Our population of 25 million has clocked up 29,000 cases and 909 deaths. Internationally, our borders shut early, and now just a single covid case ensures snap lockdowns and state border closures. This is happening at the moment in Western Australia where the UK variant has been detected in the corridor of a quarantine hotel.

In Brisbane, life is normal – people are at work and school, in theatres, cafes, pubs and gyms without masks but with social distancing. But we are well aware that things can fall apart quickly. Vaccine distribution is tipped to be well and truly underway by October. I don’t want to overread the tea leaves but I feel 2021 will be quite the year.

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