Thursday, March 23, 2023

Busy Brisbane: bustling, booming, fun, and a nighttime wonderland

Brisbane's majestic skyline is an impressive, sky-high mix of contemporary architecture,
artfully set off by well established trees, and places to be in nature even in mid-city.

Here near city center, the Brisbane River provides an
inviting oasis for this boating party. 


The Treasury Casino, is known simply
as ''The Treasury'' to Brisbane folks.
It also houses a hotel, restaurants,
bars and a popular nightclub.
Cookie won "for a change," she says.
BRISBANE HAS the feel of elegance and casual fun, city life and country charm. Visitors immediately feel its importance because of a vibrant mix of the stately, old, new and energetic.
Along with that dignified fa├žade, it's a city that likes gambling. "Welcome to Bris-Vegas," our captain said as he landed the plane. "Have fun, folks."
 I love casinos and gambling, so I cajoled Keller into accompanying me to aptly named Treasury Casino. What fun! It has all the games Vegas does -- minus video poker, my favorite. But  Cleopatra  was good to me on a fun game, "Queen of the Nile." $264.50 Aussie which paid a couple hours' fun and a nice dinner, about $175 U.S. Many Aussies love gambling, and spend millions each year in Brisbane.

River City Cruises offers a
full bar with a choice of
libations for enjoying
spectacular Brisbane views.

Around the Treasury, tall, modern buildings provide a striking look to the downtown. Beautiful old banyan trees have been 
carefully preserved to frame contemporary architecture. There's an Asian influence of feng shui, with many skyscrapers built with "cut out" indentations for light, space, fresh air and plants.

View after sunset from River City Cruises 
sunset cruise boat which offers a picturesque,
relaxing way to see the city in changing light.

PEOPLE HERE love the water and use it as a major way of getting around, which sensibly cuts down on traffic and pollution. The river is also a major tourist attraction. A daily free ferry makes its way along the river. We hopped on and off a dozen times during our week-long stay. We also used Brisbane's River City Cruises which offers fun options for enjoying spectacular views, particularly at sunset when the city takes on a rainbow-hued glow. 
The city's famed Story Bridge is world known as a heritage-listed landmark. It's a steel cantilever structure spanning the Brisbane River and carrying  vehicular, bicycle and pedestrian traffic between the town's northern and the southern suburbs.
A Chinese lion guards entrance to a temple
in front of  the popular Wheel of Brisbane.

Bustling capital of Queensland, Brisbane is located on the often flooded Brisbane River. 
Bruce Keller and Christene
"Cookie" Meyers stroll
Brisbane River pre-cruise
It's home to gorgeous gardens, busy markets and the progressive South Bank cultural precinct with the Queensland Museum and Sciencentre. One could spend a week dabbling in the acclaimed interactive exhibitions. 
We spent a couple hours -- not nearly enough -- at one of the gems in the city's cultural institutions. Queensland Gallery of Modern Art has an impressive range of major contemporary art pieces. Then we were off to Mt. Coot-tha, site of Brisbane Botanic Gardens, high above the city.
Brisbane's popular River City Cruises takes
locals and tourists to historical landmarks, past
new construction, homes of the rich and famous
 and more in a variety of trips, including a
lovely sunset voyage with beautiful lights.

Like many Australian places, the mountain is an Aboriginal name, meaning "place of honey." It is known for its delicious black honey and the  beautiful wild, stingless bees who produce it. 
River City passengers enjoy a beverage while
changing light highlights city scenes. Passengers
also stroll the boat and decks on a sunset cruise. 
MOST VISITORS to Brisbane spend as much time on the water as they do on land.  We were no exception. Again, we used the city's delightful Cross River ferry system which connects all the major streets and destinations: Holman Street, Kangaroo Point, Riverside and Howard Smith Wharves, 
 The old Customs House on the Brisbane River is visible from
River City boats, a fine, classical style building, dating to 1848. 
The copper plated dome roof was built in 1889. The cyclist is a
light hearted addition which displays Brisbane's humor.

and Bulimba to Teneriffe.
There are both the "City Cats" for a reasonable $5.60 Aussie fare (about $3.75 U.S.) and the free "Kitty Cats" -- part of Brisbane City Council's CityHopper service, a useful,  complementary inner-city ferry service on the river. We hopped on and off CityHopper at seven stops between North Quay and Sydney Street, New Farm, which spans most of what we wanted to see. The ferries are fun and efficient.                                                                        AT THE HEART of the city is South Bank, a multi-million dollars attraction. It's Brisbane’s premier lifestyle and cultural destination. Located on the   
The bougainvillea line the Grand Arbour at the South
Bank Parklands. Brisbane, Queensland's capital; 
curling, tendril-like columns of steel are covered
with a train of vibrant magenta bougainvillea.

banks of the Brisbane River, its 17 hectares boast world-class eateries, stunning river views and hundreds of delightful events. Artful fountains, steps and sculpture with running water encourage relaxation. The city will spend $48.7 million over the next three years to upgrade its ferry terminals including Dockside and Mowbray Park. We were impressed with the  ferry network and accessible, well used public transportation. Millions are also spent on flood resilience.
Brisbane's efficient ferry system makes transit
in the city easy
, fun and picturesque. 
BRISBANE IS a lively, exciting place. What struck us about the city is the amount of green space within the city. Its suburbs are full of trees and gardens. Dutton Park, Spring Hill and Kangaroo Point are all inviting -- spacious, green and a 15-20 minute drive to city center for plays, concerts, schools, parks, shops and restaurants. Neighborhoods are varied and lively -- including Sunnybank, a one-time semi-rural suburb with market gardens. It's surpassed Brisbane's Chinatown to claim itself the city's largest Asian community. We found it a great place for authentic Asian eats. It's beautiful day or night, when the city comes alive.
Art is at the heart of Brisbane.
These playful pelicans
grace a riverfront park.

Brisbane is an enticing melting pot of Southeast Asian cultures, shops and cuisines. Chinese, Taiwanese, Malaysian, Japanese, Korean, Singaporean and Vietnamese eateries abound. Supermarkets sell produce from multiple countries. We heard a dozen different languages in less than a day. What's not to like about this global gem? Information:;;                                                                                                                                                                                         
"R*E*S*P*E*C*T" at Lamb's Players Theatre
has been held over multiple times. It's a dazzling,
soulful musical romp, a tribute to girl singers and
composers of the '60s. Fabulous live band's on stage.
 Theater in San Diego is at its best in March, when new work abounds. Productions derailed three years ago by COVID are happily back. "R-E-S-P-E-C-T" is a spectacular, beautifully written tribute to '60s girl singers, held over multiple times at Lamb's Players Theatre in Coronado, up through May 9. It's smooth, lively, expertly delivered to showcase the enormous talents of SoCal's finest vocalists backed by a swinging band and effective video imagery of the music that marked a generation. The fast-moving, multi-costumed world premiere is another triumph for Lamb's tireless artistic director Robert Smyth. It effortlessly spans "girl group" genres from folk to rock, soul, funk, rhythm and blues, and more. To deliver this energetic show for months on end, making it fresh and fun each time, is testament to a terrific ensemble. Bring your memories, to clap and toe-tap to hits by Aretha Franklin, Joni Mitchell, Mama Cass, Dionne Warwick, Diana Ross, Brenda Lee, Carol King, Janis, Buffy, Petula and more. Expect well deserved cheers, whoops, whistles and standing ovations. 619.437.6000

Phil Johnson and Katie Karel play the
parents, with Eben Rosenzweig and Elena
Bertacchi in Roustabouts' "gUnTOPIA."

at Moxie Theatre is up through April 2. The Roustabouts' smart, dark and disturbing satire explores the effects of gun violence and features one of the region's top actors and directors, Phil Johnson heading a confident, accomplished cast. Co-directing with hard-hitting imagination are Rosina Reynolds and Kate Rose Reynolds. The thought-provoking work interpreted by a fine-tuned ensemble artfully tackles the complex problem of gun violence, as a family confronts a tragedy in their own home.  It's thought provoking theater, aimed at encouraging discussion and debate about this complicated and volatile issue in America. "Talk backs" feature a variety of experts, victims and others whose lives are touched by gun violence. This is not a play for sissies but is rewarding, intriguing and, as all worthy art should, it's bound to make us ponder. Johnson's moving soliloquies are worth the ticket.  619 568-5800

The colorful Waikiki Trolleys explore various routes around
Honolulu, taking visitors and locals alike around this
colorful city, for "hop on and hop off" convenience.
: Honolulu calls us -- and we answer. It's one of our favorite cities in the planet because it has has everything: fabulous hotels, exotic shopping with bargains aplenty, gorgeous climate and beautiful flowers, birds galore and a gastronomic array of eateries with food from many Pacific Island cultures and the Far East. Museums, surfing,  aquarium, zoo, parks, historic buildings, the Pearl Harbor memorial, helicopter tours. And the beach, with all its wonders. We explore it all from several color-coded Waikiki trolleys, and take you along the fun routes.


  1. Aussie AdventurersMarch 23, 2023 at 4:08 PM

    What a fun piece on our city "just up the road." We live in a suburb of Sydney and love Brisbane for all the reasons you do!

  2. Fun piece about a great city..

  3. We love Australia...missed Brisbane 5 years ago. Will make sure to head there in 2025. Thanks.