Cedar Creek

About forty-five minutes drive north-west of Brisbane is a place where you can get away from it all and immerse yourself not just in nature, but in water so cold it’s easy to imagine it wants you to die. I once spent a whole day at minus thirty in the Canadian Arctic; that air wanted me dead. The water at Cedar Creek is possessed, I’m convinced, by a similar murderous intent, at least in winter. And contrary to what “southerners” will tell you, winter does exist in Brisbane. Don’t let pictures of people basking in the sun wearing T-shirts fool you; that’s just marketing spin. Some days it doesn’t even reach twenty degrees (Celsius).

Unfortunately, Cedar Creek has become so popular as a swimming and picnic spot in summer, you may as well be on a Gold Coast beach. Far from getting away from anything, you will be surrounded by hundreds of people, some of whom think you also want to listen to death metal and be amused by their drunken antics. Unfortunately, this means that on the very type of day you want to go swimming in a cool fresh stream so does everyone else. The only alternative is to go when no one else wants to: in the bitter depths of Brisbane winter.

Last Wednesday, I decided I did need to get away from the hectic hustle and bustle that is Brisvegas, so I drove out to Cedar Creek. Cedar Creek road ends at a gate because the people who live there don’t want a crowd of esky-toting, beat-box wielding thugs driving through and parking on their properties. Go figure. There is a small swimming hole near the gate, where you can sit on the rocks and picnic and have a dip, but for those willing to make the effort, paradise awaits.

You’ll need to follow the creek upstream for about twenty minutes. This is not as easy as it sounds as it involves a lot of strategic hopping from rock to rock, sometimes wading through shallow water and pushing through spiky plants. There are snakes, but they all go to sleep in winter and most of them run away if they hear you coming anyway. You’ll know you’ve arrived because, bruised, scratched, and wondering why you agreed to this Bear Grylls adventure, the creek will suddenly open out into a wide pool, fed by a loud waterfall.

The good thing is, you will have warmed up enough to feel like swimming, which is how I felt last week, so I stripped off and, without giving myself time to think about it, jumped straight in. I don’t think I could have felt more pain if I had dived into a pit of razor blades. Even my hair hurt. To call it a swim is probably not entirely accurate as the whole immersion lasted approximately three seconds.

I once read a list of things that are unAustralian to not do. One of those rules stated that on diving into cold water it was unAustralian to not yell out to those still on dry land, “It’s cold at first but it’s nice once you get in!” In the three seconds I spent in the water I did say this in my head, but on finding it to be a giant lie, swam as fast as I could back to the rocks, climbed out, and grabbed my towel. I had just changed out of my swimmers and into dry clothes when two young men arrived to disturb my solitude. But I didn’t mind, because all I wanted by then was to return to the warmth of civilisation.

Of course you can just go for a winter picnic at Cedar Creek and enjoy the serenity, but I think it’s unAustralian to not go for at least a micro-swim. And you don’t have to lie about it being nice once you’re in because you’ll be out before you can make that judgment. And then you can congratulate yourself, like I did, for being daring and fearless, especially once I was on the couch under my electric rug, because, after all, it only reached twenty-two degrees that day.

Karaoke!

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Think you can’t sing? Well, as I witnessed last Friday night, ability is no barrier to getting up on the small stage and belting out your favourite tunes.

Blute’s is a karaoke bar in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley. Its website states its “sole aim was to capture an aesthetic reminiscent of quintessential Australian pubs from the 80s”. As someone who frequented pubs in the 80s, I can’t say I felt like I was back there, but the vibe was relaxed and welcoming; it didn’t matter who you were or what you looked like. And it certainly didn’t matter whether you could sing or not; Blute’s is a place for people to just belt out their favourite tunes regardless of ability and without judgement. To sing like there’s no one sober enough to be listening.

Early in the evening a man with an eye-patch, who was obviously a regular, launched into several gravelly renditions of old favourites. He didn’t care whether anyone was listening or not. He was enjoying himself and he seemed to enjoy listening to other people as well. There were a couple of other lone guys early on who quietly chose their tunes then got up and belted them out with abandon. As the evening wore on, the crowd grew as groups spilled out from other venues emboldened by alcohol to give voice to their hidden dreams of stardom.

There’s a machine hanging on the wall where you can search for a particular song or browse different categories. I needed to find something I knew and something I knew I could actually sing. A queue of eager regulars was forming behind me so I quickly decided on Alanis Morrissette’s Ironic and with slight trepidation pressed the button to book it in.

The author doing her best

I was outside sipping my drink when I heard my name called, so I had to sprint in and grab the microphone from the guy running the show. Fortunately, I have sung in a band, albeit briefly, so was a little bit familiar with the situation. But this is not a set up where there’s someone sitting at a mixing board down the back twiddling dials, and there’s no foldback so you can’t hear yourself very well, which means you could sound like shit or you could sound great. But the words were up on the screen, so I opened my mouth and started singing.

The regulars were sat at a small table close to the platform that serves as a stage and they were whooping it up. As were my friends, bless them. I have no idea if I was in tune or not. I know I missed bits. Doesn’t matter. It was fun. Which is the whole point.

One of my friends said she’s always wanted to sing but was told in high school to never do so. “Who cares?” I said. “If you want to sing go for it.” So she punched Montego Bay into the machine and pressed the button. And with me standing up there with her for moral support, she went for it. Was she in tune? I actually don’t know because I couldn’t hear her. Didn’t matter. Everyone clapped and whooped anyway. High school teacher be damned, my friend sang her heart out and loved it. As did everyone who got up on stage.

So if you’ve always wanted to sing but were too afraid to try, get yourself along to Blute’s and have a crack.

Dromedairy

The Grand Matriarch

Camel milk, camel meat, camel feta, camel gelato, camel vodka, camels have it all! That’s what I discovered on my recent visit to the Summer Land Camel Farm. Just a 45- minute drive west of Brisbane is the world’s third-largest camel dairy. (Admittedly the other two, located in the Middle East, are considerably bigger.)

The maternity wing

Summer Land Camels began in 2015 with wild camels taken from the Australian desert where they are considered a pest. Around 20,000 camels were introduced from the Middle East in the 1840s to enable explorers to travel through the desert. They were even used by Cobb and Co. But with the advent of rail and road transport they were no longer needed and set free to wreak havoc on the Australian landscape.

According to an ABC Landline report from 2020, camels do immense damage to native vegetation, waterways, and infrastructure. They also destroy sacred Aboriginal sites. And while camels can go up to a month without water, they can drink 100-200 litres in a few minutes. In fact they will push cattle out of the way to take water from farm troughs, and when it’s all gone they will set about destroying the trough to find more. Our guide told us if camels show up at your property, sit down, pour yourself a drink and just wait while they break into your kitchen and smash the taps to get at the water, because you won’t be able to stop them. You’re only allowed to shoot them if you have a license, and anyway, there’ll be more where they came from.

A baby camel leaving white frothy slobber all over my jacket sleeve

But for all that, they’re cute! Visit the farm for the experience of being kissed and cuddled by a camel. You can even buy your very own camel for a pet. And as for the spitting? Not true. What is true is that if they’re unhappy they’ll vomit at you.

The whole dairy

After your tour, you’ll get to sample camel milk, feta, and sausage, and also body cream. Camel milk has been found to be more nutrient-dense than cows’ milk, is great for gut health, and is tolerated by people who can’t drink cow, goat, or sheep’s milk. Its antimicrobial properties mean it can’t be used to make blue-vein cheese because it kills off the bacteria that gives the cheese its properties. The down-side? It’s expensive: $14 for a litre. That’s because while a cow can produce up to 60 litres a day, camels will give just 5-6 litres. And unlike cows, camels don’t have their calves taken away or they’ll stop producing, so the babies stay in a separate paddock while their mothers are milked.

Camel train

The farm does camel rides, tours, and has a cafe serving all manner of camel derived foods as well as shots of their Camel Milk and Honey vodka. It’s a lovely day out.

(Apologies for the title; I couldn’t help myself)

Dan Arnold: a restaurant?

There are places that serve food, called restaurants, and then there are places like Restaurant Dan Arnold. In this kind of establishment, the dark arts have clearly been employed to coax flavours out of their tiny hiding places and force them to marry, at kitchen-blow-torch-point, sometimes unlikely companions. Such arranged marriages are only successful at the hands of a very skilled match-maker.

This is not a blog of restaurant reviews, but food is an intrinsic part of culture and the profile of any city, even Brisbane. After all, Paris would just be a big fashion show, and people making out on bridges, without its food. (I haven’t been there but I have watched Emily in Paris on Netflix so same same.)

With food establishments like Restaurant Dan Arnold, I believe the protocol for attendance should be re-written. First of all, a screening process should be implemented to make sure only those capable of appreciating what they are about to experience should take place; think the kind of exam that only Matt Preston would pass.

Next a strict dress-code: a long, black, shapeless garment with matching head-covering to prevent any distraction by clothing, hair, or accessories; change-rooms would be provided. Once patrons emerge into the dining-space, (or perhaps the “gustatory perception and experience studio” ) there must be absolute silence. No music, no conversation, no asking where the toilet is. Waitstaff would be trained to within an inch of their lives to anticipate every possible need. Any failures would be dealt with promptly (think Squid Game).

I believe this is the only way one can truly experience and appreciate the artistic prowess of the eponymous chef and his assistants.

I, and my husband of 30 years (yeah, the longer-for-murder joke) attended RDA on Saturday, April 2. The dinner was a gift from friends for our anniversary.

Before we began the five-course main event, six “amuse-bouche” were gifted to us on strange and unusual vessels. There was a chicken-liver parfait inside a tiny cup-shaped crust, perfect oblongs of salmon with dots of citrus gel, something served on a crust of delicately puffed rice, and a beetroot meringue (yes! beetroot). And it’s my inability to recall the minute details of these exquisite little morsels that brings me to my next idea.

After each dish, patrons must retire to individual cubicles and spend at least ten minutes meditating on what they have just experienced. The flavours in these dishes are so clear and yet complex that it is sacrilege to just swallow a mouthful of wine and move onto the next one. Your brain is still saying, “What was that?!” before it is forced on to the next thing. As for me, I couldn’t fully concentrate as I should have been, because I was checking out the clothing on the women at the next table, and wondering if that was Harry and Meghan sitting up at the bar. It’s like in church, when you’re supposed to be listening to the sermon, but instead you’re looking at the stained-glass windows and planning your next holiday. Nothing should be allowed to distract you from the task at hand.

After we had merged our bodies with the five “main” courses, the waitress rolled the Ikea Cheesen Platten cheese trolley over to us and removed the lid ready to explain the five hundred different cheeses. Alas, as much as I wanted to, there was no way I could have talked my stomach into it. She told us she would let us get away with it this time. I felt chastened and unworthy.

Instead, we were served a thimble of parsley granita and “at the bottom, you will find lemon curd,” she said, except with a French accent. This was the pre-dessert dessert. The menu stated the actual dessert was “Earl grey, chocolate, blackberry”. And so it was.

Petit fours ensued. The limitations of our crude language reduce me to describing them as a mandarin jelly and a carrot cake. There was a third one, but by then I had had three glasses of wine. I’m a cheap drunk.

After perfect coffee, it was time to deal with the vulgarity of “paying the bill”. Then we were thrust back into the night and returned home, where we lay down and stared at the ceiling, trying to make sense of what had just happened, with questions like, “But how did they make that potato thing?”

We’ll probably never know. Which is probably just as well.

And I don’t think it was Harry and Meghan.

Maeve: Hiding in Plain Sight

I couldn’t say how many times I have walked past the doorway without even noticing it, and it’s never appeared in a Google search of restaurants in South Brisbane, so it was only when a friend asked if I’d been there that I discovered Maeve Wine Bar. I thought it must have been new, but when I asked the waiter, she said they’d just had their third birthday. I need to lift my local dining game!

Obviously plenty of other people know about Maeve because it’s not easy to get a table, but on Saturday night we managed to get two seats at the bar.

Maeve is located in a ninety-six-year-old building that was formerly a bank, on the corner of Melbourne and Grey streets near the dining precinct of Fish Lane. The space is dominated by Starbucks, and although they have an unmissable sign on the street, Maeve was denied permission by the council. Something to do with the building’s heritage listing. It’s the same reason they were denied permission to install a lift, which is a problem for anyone with a disability, because the only way to Maeve is up a staircase to the first floor.

Sticking with my usual go-to white wine, I ordered a glass of Pinot Gris. “Have you had a skin contact pinot before?” the waiter asked. I hadn’t. Actually I had no idea what they were talking about. “It’s pink and a little spicy. How about I give you a taste first?” It was pink and, frankly, tasted like a rosé, but was delicious. Pinot? Rosé? I didn’t care. It was from somewhere in NSW, I liked it, I drank it.

First up, fresh oysters from Tasmania, served au natural with a wedge of lemon and their own tiny bottle of Tabasco. Next, chicken liver parfait served on a perfect rectangle of toasted focaccia with a citrus gel. We almost ordered one each, but the waiter warned us it was quite rich so maybe we should start with just one. I could have happily eaten half a dozen, but we halved the one serve and I used my finger to clean the plate.

Next, Saganaki, a Greek cheese like halloumi, with fermented garlic honey and oregano. We were given bread to mop up the liquid. Rich, sweet, aromatic, cheesy. Divine! This was followed by Hiramasa Kingfish, King Brown mushroom, and an improbable puree of capers and raisins. The fish was meltingly fresh and perfectly cooked. The mushroom was a little chewy, but again I used my finger to make sure none of that strange puree was left. This was accompanied by a Caprese salad with heirloom tomatoes, stracciatella, basil and pickled garlic. Fresh, tomatoey, and creamy.

There were just two choices for dessert: a crème caramel and a chocolate tart. I chose the crème caramel to which had been added sweet vermouth, giving the caramel sauce depth and a slight tang. It was a dish of silky, blissful delicacy.

My husband ordered his usual after-dinner long black coffee, only to be told there was no espresso machine. One of the other problems with a heritage-listed building is the wiring. I mean, electricity, don’t you just turn things on and they work? I guess in the “olden days” there weren’t as many things to turn on. For whatever reason, there isn’t enough electricity to stretch to operating an espresso machine. And yet, downstairs is Starbucks…

Anyway Maeve, your secret is out.

Hungry in Brisbane

Photo by MART PRODUCTION on Pexels.com (not taken in Brisbane)

Twice in the last month, I have been approached by people asking me if I could spare them a little money because they were hungry. One was a woman at the shops just down the hill from where I live in the inner city. The other was in the Brisbane Arcade in the city. I was looking in a shop window when I heard a voice say, “Excuse me.” I turned to see a very thin man. He apologised profusely, saying he didn’t want to be rude but he was really hungry. I asked him if there was anything in particular that he wanted. 

“I dunno,” he replied. “Maybe just some chips?” 

I had no cash on me (who does these days?) but said I’d go to the ATM and get him some. As we walked, he asked me how I went in the recent flood. “Fine,” I told him. We are high up. What about you?” I asked, adding, “you’re on the street?”

“Yeah, I’m on the street,” he replied, but told me the place where he and a lot of people often sleep, over near Lang Park stadium, had flooded, so they had to find somewhere else.  Then he said, “You know, sometimes people come and throw petrol on homeless people and set them on fire. Nobody hears about it.” No we don’t.

I have lived, albeit briefly, in a third-world/developing/majority world country (choose your preferred term); Brisbane is far from being that, and yet, thousands in this city (5813 according to the 2016 census) are homeless and some of them are hungry.

BUT, there are a lot of people out there doing their best to help. I volunteer once a month with Rosies Friends on the Street . They go out every day and night to connect with those who just need a place to go and have a cup tea and a chat. They also offer snacks, toiletries and blankets, and can connect patrons, as they are always called, to other services if needed. Sometimes Orange Sky Laundry and Showers set up nearby. Patrons can put on a load of washing, have a shower, a cup of tea, and a chat. Micah Projects run a “Street to Home” van to give people a safe lift to wherever they happen to be staying, assuming they have anywhere. A nurse from Micah often comes to help Rosies patrons with any health concerns.  There are Fishers of Men who offer hot meals, Valley Hearts in Fortitude Valley, and in West End, Food Not Bombs set up every Friday night in Bunyapa Park and offer hot food, salads, bread, and a chat. 

Of course, anyone can go along to these places and get a free meal. No one checks your homelessness credentials or asks you to explain why you’re there. And the food, especially at Food Not Bombs, is good. 

There are a lot of reasons why people become homeless and not all of them are easily solved, but Finland has successfully implemented a “Zero Homelessness” strategy, so why not Brisbane?

Flooding in West End

Hoogley St, West End, Saturday February 26

A once-in-one-hundred-year-flood has occurred in Brisbane just eleven years after the last one, although a West End resident I spoke to said the water didn’t come into their property this time. Still, in the low-lying areas of West End there are piles of sodden belongings out on the footpaths and people who have lost everything are calling for help on social media. And the Bureau of Meteorology says the rain isn’t over yet. As if we needed any more historical events to live through.

Brisbane City Council workers cleaning up

The sound of trucks pumping water from the basement carparks of so many high-rise apartment blocks can be heard across West End today, and the foetid smell of so much river mud and debris fills the air. Some shops are still closed, some places are still without electricity, public transport has been suspended, and a general atmosphere of shock and disruption prevails. Down by the river, everywhere you look, people are picking up things, shovelling mud, or just standing around in a state of disbelief, looking at upended pontoons and large things still floating rapidly downstream. On one corner a couple discussed Ukraine and the possibility of nuclear war. Bloody hell people! One disaster at a time please! Whatever happened to Covid?

Before and after at the South Brisbane Sailing Club

At the South Brisbane sailing club, where anyone can go and learn to sail, all boating activities have been suspended and the boats sit out on the traffic island while they hold working bees to get the clubhouse cleaned up.

Before and after at the end of Forbes Street

Along from the Sailing Club, the reclining seats that line the river bank at the end of Forbes St. and the picnic areas are coated in grass and debris, surrounded by silt and boggy grass. “Be careful of snakes,” one resident warns me.

Hoogley St today

The flood water has receded now, but the anguish of those whose homes were flooded, probably not for the first time, is just beginning. Some don’t have insurance because it has become too expensive. Brisbane always has and always will flood.

Kangaroo Point

If you can avoid getting bowled over by cyclists and joggers, it’s a pleasant walk along the cliffs at Kangaroo Point, especially in the early morning or at sunset. Some people choose to abseil down the cliffs, but there are also stairs. The road runs to a dead end at the base of the cliffs and there are car-parking spaces along the way.

The path runs along the river, opening out at several points onto green lawns with picnic tables and barbecues. In one section there is a large tiled area. The tiles are laid in such a way as to form a maze, but it’s not exactly a challenge since you can just look across and see where the path leads without actually moving. You could use it like a labyrinth and do a walking meditation, but I have also seen people dancing on it too.

At Riverlife Adventure Centre you can hire kayaks, water bikes, rollerblades and other fun things. They also run rock-climbing, abseiling, and tours on and off the river. They can even organise your wedding or a picnic.

If you keep walking until you pass under the Story Bridge you’ll find a small sandy beach. Steps lead down to the beach and it’s a great place for your dog to have a frolic (except you should never let your dog off-leash except in special off-leash areas should you? Absolutely not). It might be tempting to get your kit off and go for a lovely swim in that brown water, but alas, this being Australia, the Brisbane River is full of hungry predators. Bull Sharks live in the river and they will probably eat you, and your little off-leash dog too.

Photo by GEORGE DESIPRIS on Pexels.com

On top of the cliffs is Joey’s a restaurant with arguably the best views in Brisbane. It boasts “180o views spanning Brisbane’s Botanic Gardens and City Skyline”. The seating is undercover but not enclosed, so if it’s a cold windy day it can be uncomfortable, but it’s a lovely place for coffee on a Sunday morning. Down on the river itself is Medley cafe. It’s open seven days a week from 7am, currently serving dinner Thursday to Saturday, with live music every Thursday night and Sunday afternoon.

Kangaroo Point was the site of a gruesome murder back in 1848. The dismembered body of Robert Cox was found on the river bank on March 26. William Fyfe was hanged for the murder, but local butcher Patrick Mayne made a deathbed confession in 1865. But the Mayne story is long, involving madness, nuns, and stained-glass windows, so I’ll save it for another time.

West End Markets

The market held in the Brisbane suburb of West End every Saturday morning is like a mini folk festival without the alcohol and cold showers. There is always music playing somewhere and you’re sure to see something interesting, like the man who has his cat on a lead and carries it on his shoulder, people practising acrobatics or tightrope walking, or someone blowing giant bubbles for the kids who chase them around trying to pop them.

The markets are held in Davies Park along the river. Parking can be tricky but it’s easily accessible from the bike path that runs along the river or by bus along Montague road.

There are plenty of fruit and vegetable stalls and prices are usually much cheaper than those in the supermarket. Those run by the growers often specialise in a particular thing like tomatoes, potatoes, bananas, honey, or mushrooms. There are a couple of meat vendors who also sell fish, flower stalls, coffee beans, spices, homemade ginger beer, greek sweets, and cakes. If you’re unfortunate enough to be a vegan, you will be well-catered for here and at several places in West End; it’s a vegan kind of place.

Holey Doughy sell freshly-made doughnuts and holes

You’ll also find jewellery and clothing stalls, natural beauty products, baby things and plants. There is also a very popular massage tent. Most stalls now take card, but if you need cash there is an ATM.

Once you’ve finished your shopping, grab a bite to eat at one of the food stalls: potato rosti, Hungarian langos, Tibetan momos, German bratwurst, French baguettes and cheese, crèpes, curry puffs, Thai rice and noodles, and felafel to name a few. There are a couple of coffee stalls, including the Gypsy Vardo cart who also do several types of chai, and iced tea stalls.

Then juggling all that, find a spot to sit under the huge Moreton Bay fig trees and listen to one of the musical acts that play every week. I recommend taking a rug to sit on. There’ll be lots of dogs on leads and small children. Just the one cat so far. The park is next to a soccer field so you can kick a ball around or throw a frisbie.

It’s a much nicer (and cheaper) way to do your grocery shopping, but also a relaxing way to spend a Saturday morning. And like most folk festivals it’s a groovy scene man.

Southbank Parklands

If I were going to choose a place to stay in Brisbane that was centrally located but in a pleasant area, I would choose a hotel near Southbank. In fact, when I lived just outside of Brisbane that’s what my family and I did one year; we booked into the Mantra for a week. From here we could stroll to restaurants and cafes, swim at Southbank pool (for free!) or walk up to the Southbank Cinemas on the corner and catch a movie.

At the Western end is the Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC), Museum, State Library, and Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA). So during the day you can view the latest exhibitions and at night see a play, go to the ballet, or a performance by the Queensland Symphony Orchestra. Or you can just sit and play the piano in the walkway under QPAC.

Nepalese Peace Pagoda and my dog, Maggie

The Nepalese Peace Pagoda is one of the few remaining structures left from the World Exposition held in 1988. Before Expo ’88, the Southbank area was a seedy industrial area. It was transformed into a six-month-long party venue that brought the world to Brisbane, showing it that it was cool to stay out after 8pm.

The pagoda is surrounded by a rainforest through which a rocky stream flows and you can sit in the shade, breathe the cool air, listen to the water flowing, and pretend you’re miles away from the city. Except you’re not, so either keep your eyes closed or squint.

Barbecue area

When you’re done basking in the serenity, you can fire up the barbecue at the covered picnic area next to the rainforest. Tables and chairs are provided here, or you can loll about on the wide grassed area and get sunburnt.

Bush Stone Curlews

If it’s Spring, watch out for the Bush Stone Curlews. If you get near their nest or offspring, these long-legged birds will lower their heads and start goose-stepping in your direction. They won’t do you any harm, but their mournful cry and the creepy way they stare at you will psych you out. Also watch out for the Plovers, who make their nest on the ground and will dive bomb you if you get near it. Oh and of course the Magpies; they will swoop if you happen to get near the tree where they are nesting, which you will. Just wear a hat and sunnies, which is advisable in Queensland wherever you are. Harmless but probably more annoying are the Ibises, otherwise known as Bin Chickens. They’ll hang around wanting your food. Don’t feed them or they’ll just become more annoying. In the warmer months it is also possible you will also see the odd snake, but don’t let that worry you.

Southbank Pool

If it’s hot you can then go to the beach. Southbank beach has everything you expect on an Australian beach, except for waves and salt water. The first section is a standard pool, with a ramp and railing providing easy access for those who need it. The middle section is the sandy beach and is divided into shallow and deep sections. Then there is the section for little kids: wading pools and shallow streams, water features that rain water down, or tip it from buckets, and gismos to allow kids to create dams or turn water wheels. All of these are patrolled by lifesavers, dressed in yellow and red, from 7am to midnight. After that you’re on your own.

Snaking its way through Southbank is the arbor covered with bougainvillea, a beautiful plant with vicious thorns that creates a colourful shady path the length of the parklands. This will take you to other picnic areas, including one on its own island. Don’t be startled by the water dragons sunning themselves on the rocks by the water; they are harmless and will disappear into the water if you get too close.

There is also an edible garden growing fruits, vegetables and herbs. You can eat this garden but there are rules, so don’t just hoe in.

The path along the river leads to the Riverside Green where music plays on Sunday afternoons and people sit and drink alcohol; however, you must be over 18 and have food to go with your drinks, so get your ID sorted and make sure you pack a bag of chips. If you prefer to eat and drink in a more refined manner, there are several excellent restaurants at this end.

NB: On the days when people most want to get drunk, i.e. Australia Day (aka Invasion Day, January 26) and New Years Eve, you’re not allowed to drink in the public spaces and the police can (and most likely will) issue on-the-spot fines. Typical.

At the tail end of Southbank is the Maritime Museum where you can see the tiny, pink yacht that Jessica Watson sailed around the world in 2009-10, the youngest person to do so at age 16.

If you need to go to hospital, keep staggering towards the Mater or Queensland Children’s hospitals, but if you’re feeling well you can keep walking along the south bank of the river, under the Captain Cook Bridge to the cliffs of Kangaroo Point and beyond, or cross the Goodwill Bridge to the Brisbane Botanical Gardens and city central.

Brisbane City Council offers free classes at Southbank, including yoga, tai chi, Zumba, and dancing, after which you can undo all your good work by having a beer at the Plough Inn, which has been in operation since 1864 (really old for Australia), a chocolate fondue at Max Brenner’s, or a Happy Pop.

For more info on Southbank go here.