Sydneysiders and Melburnians, put aside your equally outstanding flat whites for a moment. Stop bickering about whether great beaches beat cool laneways (they do) and desist from debating whether all baristas require waxed moustaches (ideally).
Because Brisbane is closing in on the title of Australia’s best city, and we must join forces to keep this subtropical upstart in its place.
Brisbane has bounced back better after the pandemic.Credit:Tourism and Events Queensland
Time magazine recently named Brisvegas on its “World’s Greatest Places” list, and omitted our cities. It’s a huge shock (and who knew they still published Time magazine?). But they might be onto something.
Time points to the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games, which will be hosted in the maroon metropolis. Brisbane will do a fine job, even though it’ll baffle the world when rugby league is added to the schedule and Queensland is allowed to field its own team.
Time’s most radical claim is that Brisbane is worth visiting now, but tourism is surging. Not only did Lin-Manuel Miranda recently drop in to catch Hamilton, but hundreds of Hamilfans flew up to watch his interview with Leigh Sales (presumably unaware that it would subsequently arrive on iView for free).
Brisbane has always been exciting, though. I’ll never forget my first late-night walk through the Fortitude Valley pedestrian mall. My adrenaline spiked as fights and copious vomiting broke out around me. Somehow escaping unstabbed, I had to keep walking back to my CBD hotel, as no taxis dared to stop in “the valley”.
Visitors like me once marvelled at how freeways could ruin a riverbank and mourned at sites where Joh had demolished heritage buildings, but recently, I’ve been to several top-notch venues in the CBD, by the river, and even in “the valley” which, thankfully, now has a secure cab rank.
A Brisbane house has been transformed into the Heeler family home from beloved children’s show Bluey.Credit:Hannah Puechmarin/Airbnb.
Nowadays, Brisbane has whiskey bars, boutique hotels, and buzzing riverside arts venues like the Powerhouse, QPAC and QAGOMA, the latter hosting the renowned Asia-Pacific Triennial. Brisbane’s South Bank – unlike the Yarra’s – boasts outdoor swimming spots, as well as a climate where that’s viable. And only the Brisbane Festival has fighter jets lighting up the night sky in a moment of pure pyromania.
Brisbane’s culture and nightlife mightn’t quite top Sydney’s or Melbourne’s, yet. But the southern capitals can’t match Bluey. US viewers streamed those loveable can-shaped hounds for a mind-boggling 20 billion minutes last year. They’ve featured in the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade and played Madison Square Garden. At this rate, it wouldn’t be a shock to see Bluey at King Charles’ coronation.
Fortitude Valley, with great eateries like Agnes, has been reinvented. And you can get a taxi!
Bluey is a great ad for Brisbane, featuring identifiable locations like Queen Street Mall, South Bank, and even a Rivercat. What’s more, archaeologist Bandit and airport security worker Chilli can apparently afford a large house there.
One TikTokker thinks this proves that the Heeler parents are international smugglers, a theory that creator Joe Brumm has explicitly denied. But even if the Heelers are mules, the show’s a strong argument for taking up smuggling, and/or becoming a Queenslander.
Bluey’s Brizzy is an idyll of backyard games, barbecues (and pizza ovens), and perfect weather. I’d love to raise my own two daughters in a house like theirs, and if that’s really possible in Brisbane without criminal activity, I’d consider a move, especially if, like Bluey, they could also attend a school the size of a small suburb.
Brisbane’s Lord Mayor, Adrian Schrinner, boasts his city is “the fastest-growing capital city in the country, with people from southern states recognising that our city’s incredible climate, lifestyle and liveability is second to none.” Annoyingly, he’s probably right. The benefits were crystal clear in lockdown, and they still look good today.
Sydney and Melbourne need to lift our game – perhaps we should put in a joint bid for the 2036 Olympics? Melbourne can have the indoor events and we Sydneysiders will do beach volleyball. And instead of fighting over footy finals and grands prix, why don’t we try to poach Bluey? She can do high school harbourside in Sydney and become a Melbourne sophisticate for uni. I can see Bluey as a barista – with waxed fur.
In the meantime, we should brace ourselves for more articles screaming “Viva Brisvegas”. And if we can’t beat those pesky Queenslanders, we southerners might have to move to cane toad country ourselves.
Dom Knight is a writer, broadcaster and co-host of the Chaser Report podcast.
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