Around the two Madonna shows, I had a little time to explore Brisbane.
First time here, so I had asked my friend Glenn what area he would recommend: Fortitude Valley. Said, booked.
I got a room in the fabulous Tryp Hotel on Constance street, in walking distance to a train station and an enormous number of bars and restaurants.
Fortitude Valley – also known simply as ‘The Valley‘ – is a suburb of Brisbane, northeast of the central business district.
The neighborhood was founded by Scottish immigrants who arrived in Brisbane in 1849, naming it after the ship SS Fortitude, on which they arrived.
It’s one of the hubs of Brisbane’s nightlife, full of nightclubs, bars and adult entertainment. It’s also the gayborhood of Brisbane, which suited me well.
Once a major shopping district, the area fell into disrepute in the 70s and 80s and switched its business model to illegal gambling houses and brothels.
Come the 90s, Fortitude Valley evolved into a thriving live music and nightclub district.
It has a raw, unpolished style.
Old warehouses and brick building coexist next to modern constructions, and form an interesting mix. Less perfect.
And all those buildings filled with bars and restaurants, it seems.
One walk down James street and you have enough choice to eat out for half a month! Visit Brisbane has a whole section dedicated to Fortitude Valley.
My headquarters were at the Wickham Hotel, a lively bar/restaurant/coffee-shop with terrace and live music.
They also organize Big Gay Day, an LGBT festival which unfortunately I had just missed by a week.
I got a bike from the city’s bike rental system, CityCycle – at a cheap rate of 2$ a day. Just enroll online and get a membership number and create a pin code, and off you go at one of the many bike stations.
Helmets were available with the bikes, a great perk, considering you’ll be into serious trouble if seen on a bike without a helmet in Australia.
I rode through Fortitude Valley (and hills) and through New Farm, the adjacent neighborhood, down to New Farm Park, a green spot at the end of one of the many windings of the Brisbane river.
I had a fabulous sandwich at the appropriately named End of the road Café, then snoozed under a tree in the park.
After that, I took a ride with one of the Brisbane ferries. My Brisbane GoCard gave me easy access, as I could just swipe it as if it was a bus or a train.
I just rode the river though a couple of its curves, passing bridges and the high-risers of the CBD, until I got off at the South bank parklands.
Another park that invited for a stroll.
Once the site of the Brisbane World expo in 1988, it is now a a mixture of rainforest, water, lawn and plazas… and features the river promenade, the Wheel of Brisbane, restaurants, shops and fountains.
I have to say I was too lazy to explore any of the inside attractions – it simply was to nice and sunny. And sun I need, recovering from those Brussels winter months.
I went to eat at Chow House in Fortitude Valley and then had a few beers with a friend in the Wickham Hotel.
Perfect final day in sunny Brisbane.
Well, except for the massive thunderstorm and downpour that hit us at 11pm that night. Stuck in the Wickham Hotel, as I wasn’t keen on a full on shower… one more beer!
Thank you Brisbane, it was a great first visit. Next time I’ll explore your surroundings, such as Byron Bay and Noosa Beach.