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January 29, 2019, Brisbane, Australia

Summer break in Brisbane

Soak in the arts scene, gear up for adventure and savour yummy delights in just one weekend

Rachel Tan

Being in Brisbane means enjoying the laidback life without sacrificing any of the vibrant big-city sophistication familiar to Melbourne and Sydney. Even if you have just a weekend to spare in the Queensland capital, expect to breeze through awesome experiences and emerge rejuvenated by the end of it.

Action-packed fun
Gear up for some excitement with the Express Story Bridge Adventure Climb (storybridgeadventureclimb.com.au) to get a bird’s eye view of the city. It offers the fastest ascent to the 80m summit of Brisbane’s heritage-listed steel cantilever Story Bridge.

During the climb, I mostly concentrated on gripping tightly to the railings and my safety harness while trying to catch my breath. My intense focus broke only when we got to the top where we were treated to the panoramic views of Brisbane. I was glad to have our friendly and reassuring guide with us all the way.

A group of 12 can experience the climb in an hour and 40 minutes, including 15 minutes on a viewing platform for photo opportunities. The Express Climb is A$119 (S$116) per person.

I also explored Brisbane’s inner city along the river on mini segways, also known as robogliders, by X-Wing Australia (www.xwing.com.au). They are ideal for covering more distance in less time when you go sightseeing. Navigating the paths turned out to be intuitive and easy — lean slightly forward to move ahead, and backwards to slow down to a stop. Our guide pointed out landmarks as we crossed places such as Goodwill Bridge and zipped through beautiful gardens.

Training and safety equipment will be provided for everyone. Tours are from A$55 for adults and available daily from 9.30am to 6pm.

Bookings are essential.

Arts and culture
Visit the Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art in the Cultural Precinct at Brisbane’s South Bank.

Jointly known as QAGOMA, it is the site for The 9th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art (APT9) which will end in April. The APT (www.qagoma.qld.gov.au) is now in its 25th year, presented by QAGOMA once every three years.

The ninth edition of QAGOMA’s flagship contemporary art series, which features more than 80 artists and groups from over 30 countries, is a free exhibition that challenges conventional definitions of contemporary art by inviting visitors to consider its relationship to shifting social structures across the region.

I was particularly impressed by Queensland Art Gallery’s Watermall which was transformed into a lush interactive landscape by Singapore-based artists Donna Ong and Robert Zhao Renhui’s collaborative installation titled “My forest is not your garden 2015 – 18”. You are invited to literally move through the work to investigate the evocative arrangements of artificial flora and tropical exotica.

As a joint commission by the Singapore Art Museum and Gallery of Modern Art, it will also make an appearance in the 2019 Singapore Biennale.

Also not to be missed is The Designers’ Guide: Easton Pearson Archive. It is the Museum of Brisbane’s (www.museumofbrisbane.com.au) first major exhibition that highlights the greatest collaborations of Pamela Easton and Lydia Pearson.

Till April 22, this exhibition (A$12 per entry) is showcasing over 200 garments from the now defunct Australian fashion house’s 28-year history alongside accessories, look books, samples, sketches, photographs and interviews to convey the story behind each piece.

My favourite piece was the brilliant green Baccara top and Raki skirt with gorgeous silver gota work designed with ribbon woven on looms with a cotton warp and metal weft. I was also thrilled to be just inches away from a dress that Miranda Kerr had worn in 2005 for the David Jones runway.

Gastronomy nights
Eat Street Northshore (www.eatstreetmarkets.com) is a vibrant landmark in the Brisbane and South East Queensland dining and entertainment scene marked by bright red, yellow and blue shipping containers with fairy lights and neon signs.

The lively dining and shopping destination, formerly a container wharf, is a must-visit night market with quaint gift shops and stalls selling international street food and beer, buzzing with live music. I ate my fill of oysters, tried a crepe raclette for the first time, and had a huge (750ml) Mango Passion Lemonade all to myself while checking out a retro bookshop.

Eat Street Northshore is open every Friday and Saturday from 4pm to 10pm, and Sunday from noon to 8pm. Admission fee is A$3 per adult; free for children 12 years and below.

I wrapped up my gastronomic adventures at Howard Smith Wharves (howardsmithwharves.com) to relax and dine with a different view of the iconic Story Bridge.

It was originally constructed in the 1930s as a project by the Queensland Government to provide locals with relief work during the depression, before being largely abandoned since the 1960s.

Now, the new heritage-listed entertainment and lifestyle precinct is home to Queenslander brewery Felons Brewing Co., abundant green spaces and picnic areas, new boutique hotels, an overwater bar named Mr Percival’s, and riverside restaurants.

Felons Brewing Co. was particularly crowded.

Some gathered indoors at standing tables with hot chips and at the bar, while others were outdoors enjoying the sunset with beer in hand. I did not get to taste its freshly brewed beer that day, but I know I will surely return for it.

 GETTING THERE 
• I took a direct flight with Singapore Airlines to Brisbane from Singapore.

TRAVELLER’S TIPS
• The best time to visit Queensland is between April to May when the weather is sunny with low
rainfall. The temperature goes up from November to March — great for beach visits. The weather turns cold from July to August, but not colder than 10 deg C.

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