Watch out Brisbanites. Your city is about to be taken over by super active, energetic 12WBT members. Hundreds of 12WBTers are heading to the Sunshine State for the Round 4 2012 Finale Party and Group Workout, and to help them get their bearings I have put together a mini travel guide.
Brisbane is a city that really opens itself up to visitors – with the help of a little inside knowledge. You could say that about any city, but it is really true of Queensland’s capital. A lot of the restaurants, bars and cafés are concentrated around Fortitude Valley and New Farm, but it would be a mistake to assume that was all there was. The city is absolutely sprawling and without some pointers from locals it can be difficult to stumble across the real gems.
I know this because I’m a Brisbane local. I haven’t lived there for six years, but my family is still there and I go back regularly. That said, it is almost unrecognisable from the city I left behind. There was always a vibrant restaurant and cultural scene, but there has been a real injection of energy in the last couple of years. New dining precincts have sprung up around Paddington, Woolloongabba and West and the live music scene has gone absolutely crazy.
To help 12WBT visitors get the most out of my hometown I did a shout out to some of my friends and family and the Queensland 12WBT crew. With their help, I’ve put together some recommendations of places to go, routes to run and walk and some restaurants and cafés. To make it easy, all locations are within 10 to 15 minutes of the city centre and the site of the Finale events.
Getting Active in Brisbane
“If you are staying anywhere near the 12WBT Finale events you don’t have to go far to find somewhere to run! There are literally kilometres of walking, running and cycling tracks along the Brisbane River.” JenniferN
“Come and join the QLD Crew at South Bank Parkrun on Saturday morning!! It is great fun and best of all it’s free! Starts at 7am so plenty of time for a run before the Group Workout!” Aedita
Some things about Brisbane will never change. It’s sub-tropical (something the occasionally intense humidity makes pretty obvious, I think I had an air-con addiction until I left town), but that lush weather is what makes the city so leafy, gorgeous and green.
If you are hunting for places to exercise then you won’t be short of options – there are so many beautiful parks and running tracks along the river. I know what you are thinking: didn’t the river just flood? Yes… It did, but this time fortunately the flooding was restricted to only a few small areas. According to my trusty sources (Brisbane friends and family) life is pretty much back to normal so you should be able to get out and about to explore without needing gumboots.
If you are looking to go for a run or walk with friends you should join the locals. Parkrun organises free, timed 5km runs every Saturday morning at 7am. The events start at locations in New Farm Park and South Bank.
The Parkrun guys really know their city. The route they do every weekend takes in some great local locations. If you are saving your energy for the Group Workout but interested in going on a run or work in your own time, the Parkrun routes are on the group’s website and I have shared them below.
The South Bank Parkrun route is a single loop. It takes in both sides of the Brisbane River and past some of Brisbane’s most iconic landmarks. No, not the XXXX Brewery – that’s in Milton if you want to know – I am talking about sites like the cultural precinct and the bridges that criss-cross the river.
The South Bank Parkrun. Click here to view it in a larger map.
The New Farm Parkrun. Click here to view it in a larger map.
“After your training hop on the CityCat – the Cats move people up and down the river. On warm days, it’s beautiful to have the breeze in your face, stand on the front deck, and see the sights from the river.” JenniferN
If you are interested in other active adventures, another good river walk takes in the Bicentennial Bikeway. It’s located under the Riverway Expressway, an iconic bit of Brisbane infrastructure that snakes in front of the CBD. Some locals think it ruined the riverbank, personally I kind of like its concrete jungle vibe. The Bikeway sits out on the river and is used by runners, cyclists and walkers and is one of the city’s busiest shared pathways, connecting Toowong to the CBD.
If you want a really good walk start all the way back at the Regatta Ferry Wharf or anywhere on Coronation Drive in Toowong. You’ll go under the Riverside Expressway, taking in a view across to the Gallery of Modern Art. Continue along past the muddy mangroves and all the way through to the Brisbane City Botanic Gardens at Gardens Point. If you want to cycle that route, you can hire bikes through CityCycle bike hire stations which are dotted all around the inner-city suburbs. You can buy or hire helmets for your trip at vendors around the city or, if you are super organised maybe you could take your own in your suitcase. Stuff it with underwear and voila, no space issue.
If you want to explore a bit further afield I’d recommend hopping on a CityCat to the University of Queensland at St Lucia. This is my old uni so I might be a bit biased but the campus truly is beautiful. It is full of parklands and lakes and gorgeous sandstone buildings. A popular walk is through the campus and across the Eleanor Schonell Bridge, better known as the Green Bridge. You end up in Dutton Park which is a short bus trip away from the café and restaurant precincts in West End and Woollongabba.
For information on CityCat and Ferry Services, you can find all the terminal locations here.
12WBTers tackle the Kangaroo Point Cliffs!
“You can’t go past the stairs at Kangaroo Point cliffs for some serious puff-inducing work!” Chiraly
“The Kangaroo Point Cliffs are a great place to hang out. I organise for some 12WBters to get together every Friday morning at 5:30am to run/walk/jog a lap of the kangaroo point stairs. It is not far from Southbank, the city or Valley” rinag72
The Kangaroo Point Cliffs Park is a great spot to get views across to the city. It’s a short walking distance from the South Bank Parklands and city centre. The 20 metre cliffs are lit up spectacularly at night creating a beautiful but slightly eerie vision from the CBD side. Its a popular place for rock climbing at all hours of the day.
For the Culture Vultures
Let’s talk South Bank, the site of all the 12WBT Finale craziness. South Bank Parklands is a huge leisure precinct across the road from the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre. There’s quite a bit going on there including markets every Friday evening, Saturday and Sunday.
There is also a beach in the middle of the city. Yes, you read that correctly. South Bank has a man-made swimming beach with sand and lifeguards and people swimming just like at the actual seaside! I grew up with this but I still think it’s kind of crazy. Only in Brisvegas…
If you go for a walk around you’ll probably find yourself at the Queensland Cultural Centre, a precinct that includes the Queensland Art Gallery|Gallery of Modern Art , State Library, Queensland Museum and Queensland Performing Arts Centre. There are a whole heap of exhibitions and events on at the moment, too many to list, but I would have one strong recommendation – the Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art is at the Queensland Art Gallery|Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA).
The exhibition is free and is not just a great experience for adults – as part of the Triennial’s programming there is Kids’ APT7 at the Gallery’s Children’s Art Centre. Featuring 13 projects and artworks specifically created by artists for children, the Centre is like an arty playground for kids. Trust me, kids go nuts in that place. I’ve seen it and I have even done it myself.
“On the Saturday head to Jan Powers Farmers’ Markets at New Farm. They have loads of delicious fruit and veg (and some good quality meat!) and great coffee. New Farm Park is also a great place to have a picnic.” ShREK
New Farm Park is one of the city’s best-loved parks. It is Brisbane’s go-to spot for picnics and is filled with huge jacaranda trees and rose gardens.
Next to the park is the Brisbane Powerhouse. A former electricity power station, the Powerhouse was converted into a performing arts centre in the 90s but you can still see the traces of a gritty former life in the raw brick walls and remnants of graffiti. It has two restaurants with bars on site, both overlooking the river, and every second Saturday the Jan Powers Farmers Markets are held there.
The next market is on the same day as the 12WBT Finale – Saturday 9th February. The markets kick off at 6am and finish at 12 noon. To get there, you can get a CityCat from Southbank to the New Farm Park CityCat and Ferry Wharf. Then it is just a few minutes walk from the Powerhouse.
If you are staying near the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre, but would love some fresh produce, then the Davies Park Market is your closest market. It is held every Saturday from 6am until 2pm and is walking distance from South Bank, off Montague Road near the end of Jane Street in West End.
“For nice dinners, try Euro, Pony, Tank, Fat Noodle (Treasury Casino), Stokehouse (at South Bank) and also The Jetty (also at South Bank). Bars – I would go to Mr and Mrs G’s or the Shadow Lounge.” Jaco
For some café, bar and restaurant options I asked my lovely friend Nadine for some help. A mother of two, New Farm local and a lady with her finger firmly on Brisbane’s pulse, Nadine leads a healthy lifestyle (she is vegetarian and a dedicated runner). BUT a word of warning, this is a general dining out guide. The 12WBT nutrition team haven’t vetted the menus!
Be prepared, this weekend away might be a Red Flag event for some 12WBTers, but it’s also a great time to show off new skills and make better choices. This is quite a short list, for more dining ideas we recommend checking out The Urban List and Time Out Brisbane.
James St, Fortitude Valley
James Street is a hub of restaurants, cafes and upmarket boutiques. It is also home to James St Market, an emporium selling fresh produce, and the Cru Bar. This buzzy restaurant and wine bar is popular with a slightly older crowd than the twenty somethings that frequent the clubs and bars around Ann Street and Brunswick Street mall up the road.
11 Florence St, Teneriffe
A café and grocer with a focus on local, organic and seasonal produce. Nadine raves about this one, can’t get enough.
Alfred and Constance
132 Constance St (Corner of Alfred Street), Fortitude Valley
A complex of restaurants and bars housed in two adjoining heritage Queenslanders. Literally something for everyone, there’s a beer garden and even a Tiki bar. I haven’t been there myself but it sounds like a mixed bag… In the best sense.
223 Given Tce Paddington
According to local knowledge, Ruby’s not only has a brilliant brunch menu but has a back deck with cracking views over rolling hills stacked with classic Queenslanders.
88 Latrobe Tce, Paddington
A Brisbane breakfast institution. Relaxed with a cute outdoor courtyard dining set up. They also have a great lunch menu. It feels like I spent at least half my uni summers at this joint.
Libertine Bar and Restaurant
The Barracks, 61 Petrie Tce, Paddington
Located in the historic Paddington Barracks, Libertine serves a fusion of French and Vietnamese cuisine in a gorgeous Oriental inspired dining room. I have been there with family and really enjoyed it.
10-12 Logan Rd, Woolloongabba
Located in the antique quarter of Woollongabba (near Pearl and the Cross House), Enoteca is inspired by Roman dining locations and includes a restaurant, wine bar, wine store and cellar.
Crosstown Eating House
23 Logan Rd, Woolloongabba
The Crosstown is housed in an atmospheric two-storey 1920s brick building in the heart of the antique precinct in Woolloongabba. It features a café, casual restaurant and the Uptown Drinks Lounge and was listed by numerous friends as a favourite haunt of theirs.
28 Logan Rd, Woolloongabba
A small European style café, bistro and bar. Open for lunch and dinner but particularly known for standout breakfasts. Little bit of trivia about Pearl, they had a fire a few years ago but bounced back in better form than ever.
483 Brunswick St, Brisbane
A retro-chic French-inspired cocktail bar and bistro restaurant with an intriguing name. Apparently Lady Lamington was the wife of Lord Lamington, Queensland’s governor from 1896 to 1901. The decor is super feminine making it a magnet for the ladies. It also has a rooftop deck with cocktail bar.
Sidon St (Under the Goodwill Bridge) South Bank
Take in a distinctly Brissie view at this riverside restaurant. It sits close to the South Bank arts precinct and is the sister restaurant of the Melbourne dining institution of the same name.
Shop 3A “Arbour on Grey” Little Stanley St, South Bank
A bistro and bar with a European tapas-style menu. It is owned by the same people as Piaf Bistro which also has a great reputation.
And locals, if you have anymore suggestions pop them in the comments section below. Have fun in Brisvegas!