Brisbane and Surrounds: New discoveries begin with new eyes

5 Dec

Coming back to the city of my birth I was curious to see what new attractions and developments had popped up in my absence. Four things caught my eye.

One of the first happy surprises was revisiting the fully renovated Regatta Hotel in Toowong http.www.regattahotel.com.au . The Regatta is famous for many things but most interesting to me is that it is the location of one of the most significant early feminist acts. In 1965 two women, Merle Thornton and Rosalie Bognor, staged a protest there at the ‘men only’ laws for public bars. Refused service they chained themselves to the foot rail of the public bar. The publican wouldn’t serve them as he would have been fined but some sympathetic men present bought them a beer. The police were called and they broke the chains. When the women still refused to leave they were allowed to stay until closing time. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-03-07/women-chained-to-the-regatta/3874360

It wasn’t until 1970 that law changed to allow women to drink in public bars. I found it instructive to read this timeline for the achievements and milestones for Queensland women. We take so much for granted. http://www.communities.qld.gov.au/women/leadership-and-community/international-womens-day/key-achievements-and-milestones-for-queensland-women

Post the January 2010 flood that inundated her up to the first floor, the Regatta was closed until earlier this year and I began to worry the old girl had been dealt a fatal blow. Far from it, the rebuild has opened up lovely new spaces and kept signature spots like the verandahs overlooking the river where drinkers congregate to see and be seen. The wheel chair friendly entry foyer has old black and white photos of the Regatta Hotel dating from its birth in 1874.

Further along the river I marvelled at the swanky new row of eateries at the Goodwill Bridge end of Southbank. The Stokehouse was the first to open and it’s been joined by several others including Aquitaine and Popolo. I had lunch at Popolo with a couple of former colleagues last week. Popolo brands itself casual, Italian dining and it is certainly a relaxed approach to eating out with all dishes meant to be shared. I like sharing as it keeps the cost down and there is greater variety if you are a group. Everything about the restaurant was spot on and I’d be happy to go back for a special meal. And if money is an issue there is a well maintained lawn to picnic on right in front of the restaurant with the same lovely river view.

I am not a fan of the stark lines of the Goodwill Bridge but I appreciate the convenience of a footbridge connecting Southbank to Queensland University of Technology’s (QUT) Gardens Point campus. I walked over to see QUT’s new Science and Technology Precinct which officially opens this month. Having seen blueprints of the complex some years ago it gave me goosebumps to see the vision realised. Most impressive is ‘The Cube’ in the main ground floor lobby area which is open to the public. This is a huge multi touch screen interactive display featuring an animated childrens’ game, a sequential mapping of Brisbane during the January 2010 flood event, and a tropical reef underwater world were fish come to nibble at your fingers and you can spin hermit crabs in their shells. Peek inside the cube to see the banks of computers that power the displays.

A bit further away but also by the water are Redcliffe and Deception Bay. The coastal centres just north of Brisbane have the reputation of being boring, full of retirees and people on benefits, but if you haven’t been there recently look again. Redcliffe has undergone significant urban renewal and developments like the five star hotel-apartment complex of Mon Komo overlooking the sea have attracted new business to the area. Both the foreshores of Redcliffe and Deception Bay have been upgraded with pleasant walking/jogging paths, lighting, public art, picnic, chlorinated lagoon swimming pool and BBQ areas. It seems like the perfect place to raise a family and I can see the attraction for retirees as all services and several shopping centres are close by.

Local Councils and public institutions seem to be spending their rates wisely on public amenities that stimulate us and encourage us to get out and get some fresh air, exercise and socialise. Our tax dollars well spent!

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View from the Regatta Hotel

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Rear of Regatta Hotel – fire escapes

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Brisbane’s Jan. 2010 flood depicted on The Cube

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The Cube’s underwater world

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QUT buddies Dom and Sherman

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Redcliffe Pier and foreshore

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Map shows coastal bicycle path from south to north Bayside Brisbane

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Net fishing at sunset

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