Exploring Brisbane’s CBD

It’s easy to come to the conclusion that the CBD here has a distinct connection to Asia, with an abundance of people of Asian heritage catered for by restaurants and cafés. No single group seems to dominate, with most Asian countries well represented by young and old alike. We have relished the opportunity to (so far) enjoy Malay, Chinese and Japanese inspired meals; all within easy walking distance of our apartment.

After a light breakfast in the lobby this morning, we set off on a mission to check out the shops in the CBD – and hopefully tick off a few gifts that are needed to cover pending milestones, including Mothers’ Day and various birthdays. We left with no real plan other than to cover as many malls and arcades as we could before we grew tired of shopping.

Much work is underway in and around the city. A new underground railway station is under construction; this. requires the closure of a major city street. Upgrades to Kings Square are also underway and parts of that area are also behind construction fences. A new ‘green’ footbridge over the Brisbane River is well progressed, it will eventually link the CBD with Kangaroo Point. High rise buildings looking over the river are in various stages of construction; we suspect that many of these projects have been launched since the city was awarded the 2032 Olympic Games.

We did note that the impact of Covid on the retail outlets seemed to be less than we have seen in Melbourne. On the surface there appeared to be few empty retail outlets as we wandered the city streets. The Wintergarden shopping mall had a number of adjacent vacancies, but this may have been a major brand looking for a larger area rather than the result of anything Covid related.

While out walking we found a Tourist Information Centre where we requested a simple paper map of the CBD, including key points of interest. We were approached by a member of staff who was quick to ask whether he might be of assistance, then sought out information as to where we were from and how long we were staying in town. When we said we were from Melbourne we were asked whether we liked living there and questioned as to how we managed the cold winters. We asked him about the Queensland Art Gallery and Museum, and this was circled on the map provided. We were then advised about the free hop-on/hop-off ferry plying the Brisbane river – according to our new best friend, it went downstream as far as a brewery that Chris would apparently enjoy. No mention was made of Wendy possibly enjoying an afternoon at a brewery, or whether Chris was happy sitting around drinking beer on his own for the afternoon.

A well patronised sushi shop caught our attention around lunchtime. It took very little discussion before we ventured inside and enjoyed a very fresh selection of sushi while the lunchtime rush for lunch was underway. We could look into the kitchen and watch as deft hands prepared further sushi specialities to replenish the fast-moving items.

It was a short walk from the sushi shop to the jetty where the City Hopper (the free ferry mentioned previously) departed. Once we navigated the colour-coded timetable and worked out that (a) blue ferries were not free and (b) . . red ferries were, we were able to confirm that the next City Hopper was only minutes away from arriving. A young lady approached us seeking confirmation that the next ferry would be stopping at Howard Smith Wharves. Chris confirmed that we were from Melbourne and an answer of yes or no from us would mean very little. She was a student nurse from Auckland and had only arrived in Brisbane this morning – so we actually had an additional 24 hours of accumulated knowledge of the city over her.

Our City Hopper ferry ride criss-crossed the Brisbane River; stopping immediately opposite at Southbank then at the Maritime Museum before passing under the new pedestrian footbridge. We left the ferry at the Riverside jetty, where numerous restaurants and bars line the riverbank and patrons enjoy views across the Brisbane River to the Storey Bridge and beyond. A bush stone curlew was resting up at the top of the jetty. As is their nature, it stood perfectly still in the hope we would not notice it – although Chris also wondered if it was taken in by its own reflection in the glass.

Tucked in amongst the towering high rise buildings was a classic “new Victorian” building which served as Customs House from the late 1800s to the mid 1980s. The barred windows just above the water line looked like they had a colourful story to tell. We followed the riverside walk for as far as we could before construction work forced us away from the river and back into the city streets. A quick stop at a supermarket followed to get some fruit for afternoon tea before retreating to our apartment and pondering where our next meal might be tonight.

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