So this is why they call it the sunshine state. While our northern hemisphere counterparts are shovelling snow and struggling to cover every inch of their bodies against the icy wind, Queenslander noses are turning red for a very different reason. The summer sun in Brisbane is unrelenting and unforgiving. Kids run around with their fluoro zinc war paint on, drenched in sweat and water gun ammo. Adults stay as still as possible under the shade of a palm or giant Moreton Bay fig tree, moving only to swat away a fly or take their shift as barbecue sentry. The air is thick with the scent of frangipanis and sausage sizzles.
Time to take your giant umbrella to the beach and fall asleep on a warm golden bed. Wake up with a dip in the bluest of seas. Avoid the crowds at Surfer’s Paradise and Mooloolaba; Cabarita, Kingscliff, Coolum and Alexandra Heads are worth the extra mile. Bring a volleyball, or cricket set if you really want to impress the locals, and brave the burning sand. Lick the vinegar off your fingers as you devour a tray of fish and chips, but watch out for those cheeky seagulls!
Summer in Brisbane is 10am icy beers and 4pm thunderstorms. It’s 2pm naps and 8pm outdoor cinemas. It’s 6pm king prawns and midnight walks along the water.
Glorious April. Just when you thought you would never again have a dry shirt on your back, the humidity of summer evaporates. Cue Brisbane’s perfect season. When you wake up to the forty-fifth blue sky in a row, it’s hard to see why anyone would ever leave. There is a perfect calmness about the city. Everyone walks around with a serene smile, quiet in their pride and relief at having survived another scorching summer.
This is the time to throw on your favourite floral dress and go exploring. Wander around the West End markets on a Saturday morning. Enjoy some live music and a 100% cocoa drink behind the Gypsy Cafe. Find yourself a patch of grass by the glistening Brisbane River and share a picnic. Walk through the botanic gardens in the city and bask in the warm glow of the sun. Laugh at the absurd bald head of the ibis and the frantic digging of the scrub turkey.
Autumn in Brisbane is 8am dawdles to work with faces turned upward to the golden leaves. It’s 2pm rooftop lunches that turning into afternoon tea. It’s 6pm magenta skies that fade into 10pm Salsa under the stars in front of the casino.
Winter… It’s never really winter in Brisbane, is it? Just a lazy Autumn, procrastinating before it’s time to bring out the flowers again. You will have to put on some pants though. But only for about three days a year. The air is crisp but not quite enough to show your breath. That winter jacket you wore obsessively in Europe remains a fond holiday memory. Still, we are grateful for the sun now.
This is the time to find your favourite cozy cafe, or try mine: The Three Monkeys. Order a bowl of chai tea and an enormous slice of decadence from their outstanding cake cabinet.
If you find yourself in possession of an automobile, a drive up to the “mountains” around Brisbane makes for a beautiful day out. Head north-east to Mt Nebo and Mt Glorious. Enjoy a coffee in the rainforest surrounds of the Elm Haus or Cloverlea. Stop at the Fernvale Bakery on the way back to Brisbane for the best meat pie in the land. Head south to Mt Tamborine. German, Polish, French cuisine, homemade fudge, local markets and crafts, charming gardens, spectacular views… And cold enough in winter to warrant a night in front of the wood fire of a quaint cabin so you can go out for more fudge the next day. A walk through the Gold Coast Hinterland boasts the Best Ever Lookout amongst thousand-year-old Antarctic beech trees. And for a truly magical evening, make sure to visit the glow worm caves at Natural Bridge, Springbrook National Park.
Winter in Brisbane is morning drives to nowhere. It’s the cool sweetness of the rainforest air. It’s the warmth of a steaming mug in your hands.
Purple, purple everywhere. These are the trees that grace every postcard, and the flowers that strike fear in the hearts of every university student in Brisbane. Jacarandas. The saying goes that if one of these blossoms lands in your open book while you study under its tree, you are doomed to fail your exams that year. For these few months, Brisbane walks under a purple sky and over a violet carpet.
Have you taken a ride on the CityCat yet? These ferries are not just for commuters along the Brisbane river. Ride from the city to the University of Queensland to admire its impressive sandstone campus, lily-covered lakes and stressed out students. Then hop back on and feel the wind in your hair as the ferry takes you to Bulimba. Walk along the jetty to Oxford street, where stylish boutiques, bookstores, a little old cinema and award winning cafes will keep you entertained into the evening.
Spring in Australia’s third largest city is embracing art and culture. It’s going to a show at the Queensland Performing Arts Centre or visiting the Gallery of Modern Art. It’s an afternoon lazing around New Farm park and a night out at the Powerhouse. It’s stepping outside to inhale lungfuls of sweet golden air. It’s already feeling summer in the breeze…
Brisbane, it’s the place to be.
Visit Brisbane: http://www.visitbrisbane.com.au
Bus, train, ferry timetables, and Journey Planner: http://www.translink.com.au
Mount Glorious: http://www.mountglorious.com.au
Mount Tamborine: http://www.tamborinemtncc.org.au
Glow worms, Gold Coast Hinterland: http://www.visitgoldcoast.com/places-to-see/springbrook/attractions/natural-bridge-springbrook-national-park
Queensland Performing Arts Centre: https://www.qpac.com.au
New Farm Park, The Brisbane Powerhouse: http://brisbanepowerhouse.org
Queensland Gallery and the Gallery of Modern Art: https://www.qagoma.qld.gov.au