Brisbane’s CBD has undergone a transformation in the last five years, from a once languid, uninteresting commercial precinct to a bustling metropolis with lots to offer both tourists and locals alike. Queen St Mall is a constant hive of activity, public transport and retail therapy, and is super convenient for those attending the nearby university at Gardens Point.
Once farmland, nowadays day-trippers, hipsters, joggers and suited professionals roam Paddington’s hilly precincts by day, while myriad party-goers explore its bustling bars of an evening. Known for its upmarket restaurants, boutiques and trendy cafés, Paddington also has an array of ‘op shops’ and vintage stores to explore and with a laidback atmosphere, easily navigated streets, a charming aesthetic and everything from footy to frappes, Paddington is a beautiful, more relaxed area for those seeking a quieter, but no less fulfilling, lifestyle.
There’s no shortage of things to do in these two inner city suburbs. The city itself is a meandering collection of shopping strips, bars and historical landmarks for those that like to site-see. While a lot of the CBD is glass and concrete, it is bejeweled by some lovely sandstone buildings and churches dating back to its early colonization; landmarks easily discovered on a lazy stroll from the top of the city at the prodigious façade of the Jupiters Casino complex all the way down to beautiful Customs House on the river.
Along the way, stop in to Brew, a funky little bar/eatery tucked away on Lower Bennett Lane. Here you’ll find great food and drinks and live music or DJ’s from Thursday through Saturday. There’s a great many other bars and restaurants to discover in town, too. Jimmy’s on the Mall is a local institution, and has been open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week since 1982. For those that like theirale, you can’t go passed the Belgian Beir Café. With a range of almost 50 beers from around the world and a decadent atmosphere in a beautifully restored heritage building, it’s the perfect spot to stop and sup of an afternoon.
Paddington, much like its British counterpart, has long been known as one of Brisbane’s finer suburbs. Located 3km’s from the city center, the area’s rolling green hills and beautiful architecture tend to attract the more affluent middle-aged set able to afford the intimidating property prices. However over the last decade, Paddington has seen a shift to a more modern crowd, who can be found lounging in any number of its funky cafés and bars, or flicking through racks at one of the areas numerous vintage stores and op-shops.
Divided into three main street precincts; Latrobe Tce, Given Tce and Caxton St, Paddington offers an array of different activities for both locals and weekend-warriors alike. But while the median age of its residents may have dropped over the years, the prices have not, and a day in ‘Paddo’ will leave you feeling lighter of wallet.
Latrobe Terrace is a haven for the holistic; with ‘natural healing’ clinics, yoga studios and massage parlours galore. Café’s abound, offering healthy, sizable and delicious meals at reasonable prices, catering easily to a vegetarian crowd. Lure is a great brunch spot, tucked away among the shrubbery. Shopping is a must for the bargain hunter.The Endeavour Foundation store and the divine oasis that is Trinkit Hunter are the hot spots. Here you will find all manner of treasures, from custom-made homewares, inspired jewelry, vintage clothing and unique mementoes- all at surprisingly moderate prices.
Caxton St is where the nightlife happens. A glittering strip of bars, restaurants and nightclubs, weekends will find Caxton St bustling with all manner party-goers. Best picks here are Statler& Waldorf a fantastic ‘gastro-pub’ and Lefty’s Old Time Music Hall; jammed to the rafters with great live music and nostalgia.
Lastly, The Barracks complex at the top of Caxton on Petrie Terrace is a hidden gem, home to several great restaurants and the Palace Cinema’s. For a night of indulgence, head toCabiriafor a delicious cheese platter paired with a fragrant wine before snuggling into The Palaces’ uber-comfy chairs to watch a film.
It’s not easy to find good, cheap, wholesome fun in the area. Most activities are restricted to shopping, football, dining and drinking, however for those in the know; there are some less financially frightening past times.
There are, however, heritage sites abound in the city. Grab your map and meander from Brisbane City Hall to Anzac Square, Albert St Church and Windmill Tower. On a warm day this is a charming way to occupy time and will give some insight into Brisbane’s often dark, penal colony beginnings. Alternatively, the City Botanical Gardens followed by a stroll up Eagle St Pier are always highlights (and free!) especially on a weekend when the markets are on.
There are art gallery openings regularly held in Paddington and the CBD, and often you can score yourself a free drink while there. Try Metro Arts on Edward St, or Hands on Art in Paddington.
If you’re less visual and more physical, Casablanca on Caxton St offers a great Latin Dance class on a Sunday evening, and at only five dollars, they’re not only great value, but great fun, and a good way to meet new people.
Finally, for a leisurely sunny afternoon activity, hop on the City Cat river ferry and meander your way along the Brisbane River. It’ll cost around four dollars on your GoCard from Eagle St Pier to South Bank, and is a convenient and pretty way to get around and get acquainted with the city.
Founded as a penal colony in 1824, Brisbane has since seen a wide array of migrant groups adding diversity and richness to its history. The majority of the earliest, willing migrants to the Paddington area were Italian, Russian, Greek and German.
These days most of Brisbane’s modern migrants come from New Zealand (the largest expatriate Kiwi community in Australia) and the United Kingdom, and is also becoming more popular with residents from China, Philippines, India and South Africa. It is this cultural diversity that makes Brisbane a laid-back, friendly and casual city to travel to and live in.
Paddington was originally known as “Back of the Jail”, due to its humble beginnings as farmland positioned behind the old goal on Petrie Terrace. Once known for the goats that roamed its green hills, and later adopting the name “Paddington” after the London suburb of the same name, the area became a commercial precinct in 1898 after an electric tramline was introduced between Paddington and the city.