Last week marked the end of my first year “back” in Brisbane. When I returned to the city I’d lived in for the best part of 18 years – taking out a couple in the middle spent in Central Queensland – after seven years in Melbourne, I really wasn’t sure I was doing the right thing. And there were some rocky moments as I readjusted to a city that had changed a lot. But the warmth of the welcome from old friends and new has convinced me it was a decision I don’t regret.
Here’s my Brisbane year in pictures, some of it personal, some professional. Such fun to look back on it.
One of the wonderful things about being back in Brisbane has been being closer to my youngest daughter and my extended family, which includes baby Max, my great-nephew (my sister’s grandson) and a real cutie.
I promised myself when I arrived in Brisbane, I’d take up invitations to anything and everything. I haven’t quite kept that promise, but this was one that I accepted early on and had a wonderful time at despite my early misgivings! My friend Kerry Heaney, Brisbane food blogger extraordinaire at Eat, Drink & Be Kerry, invited me to be her “plus one” at a cooking school. The class concentrated on desserts, and there I made my first souffle – chocolate, I think it was. It rose beautifully. I haven’t tried it again since then, but one day I just might.
Another invitation came from fellow blogger The Global Goddess, who took me to lunch at Brisbane’s Sono Restaurant, where we drank champagne and sake and ate delicious sushi and then blogged about it.
Discovering Brisbane anew was made easy for me when I took a Brisbane Greeters tour, where volunteer guide Blair Allsopp showed me how the city had changed during my absence. I took a Public Art tour, becoming re-introduced to some of my favourite things in the city as well as some new ones. And now that’s something I recommend to all my visitors!
A couple of places have seemed to draw me back time and again – one for work, the other for play. The re-opening of the iconic Regatta Hotel at Toowong, after its devastation in the 2011 floods, was a great event and seemed to be a popular spot chosen by friends for catch-up lunches and for work functions too. Travel writers love a good pub! Great to see the old dame looking so spruced-up again.
The other place I trooped off to regularly was the University of Queensland campus at St Lucia, where I lecture and tutor in journalism. Its sandstone buildings, impressive Great Court and – in spring – jacaranda trees make it a beautiful place to spend time.
Another wonderful event that I was determined to attend was the Brisbane Writer’s Festival, this year with a logo that absolutely summed up my love of books. “Celebrating the heart of the story” was one thing…but moving didn’t seem to put a dent in my collection! If there’s one thing I do love to hoard it’s good books and going to the festival just made my list of “must-read” books grow longer.
One of the great things about Brisbane is that – although the city is inland – you are always within striking distance of a beach. Over the past year I’ve been a frequent visitor to the Gold Coast (to the south of Brisbane) and Sunshine Coast (to the north). Friends in both places have made it easy for me to get away from my desk for relaxing weekends. Thank you!
As the end of the year loomed, among the silly season treats was in invitation to a “retro” lunch with a gang of smart women (aged from 30-something to 70-something) who have all helped the past year be one in which I am thankful for good friends. As dogs and chooks roamed the yard (and there were eggs to take home!), we ate from recipes that perhaps should not have seen the light of day again, drank fluffy ducks and champagne. And said “we must do this more often!”. Among my favourite dishes of the day was the “frog in the pond” – a chocolate frog in a green jelly – yum!
Slicker cities might mock Brisbane a little…and people who live here sometimes affectionately call the city Brisvegas. We know that there is a faster pace elsewhere, but we love our sticky summers and our tropical downpours (within reason) and the falling mangoes and the bush turkeys that roam suburban gardens (mine included). There’s much to love about Brisbane. Sometimes you just have to go away for a while to appreciate it properly!