West End and South Bank are two of the most lively areas of Brisbane, where you’ll find a vibrant art, food, coffee, and shopping community that feels like it was made just for you.
Previously known as one of Brisbane’s rougher neighbourhoods, an influx of young professionals and students has seen the area transform into a funky, accessible, and liveable precinct. West End is commonly thought to be divided into two main strips, Vulture Street and Boundary Street, and between the two, you can find anything from one-of-a-kind items to organic cooking classes, and a host of different cuisines, op-shops, clothes shops, and everything in between.
Despite its past, or perhaps because of it, West End is a hive of activity, and its recent gentrification has created an exciting balance between the alternative and the upmarket. A favourite local pastime is to sit at any number of its bars and cafés, such as the Gunshop Café or Blackstar Coffee, and people watch. To taste the West End vibe, head to Vulture Street to Box Vintage and Happy Cabin for beautiful, hand-picked vintage garments, men’s and women’s apparel and footwear.
Wander through the Boundary Street Markets and flick through a second-hand book at Bent Books before reclining with a local craft beer or unique gin cocktail at Bosc (Bar of Social Conscience). You’ve just had yourself a local West End experience.
If you want to expand your mind and take a look at one of Australia’s biggest modern art collections, head to the Gallery of Modern Art, and browse exhibits by the world’s top modern artists. When you step back outside onto the South Bank Boardwalk, you can even marvel at the architecture of the building itself.
South Bank is a beautiful area to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon, but any day of the week is packed with activities and areas to explore. A beautiful stretch of parkland, boulevards, man-made beaches, and dining options, its relaxed atmosphere makes South Bank a great place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and ease into Brisbane life. For those that like to sightsee, the Wheel of Brisbane offers panoramic views of the city, day and night.
West End is quite community spirited and offers a great support network for its residents.
The West End Library, on Boundary St, provides an ideal location for studying or to get involved with the many events they host. Members can access free Wi-Fi, and check out their collection of foreign language books. In South Bank, you will also find the State Library of Queensland, an amazingly designed building that is a simply stunning place to study in. You’ll find it all here: books, maps, newspapers, free Wi-Fi, and student and multicultural services.
The West End Medical Practice, located on the boundary of West End and South Brisbane, is conveniently placed and covers all manner of health services. Those looking for fitness activities should check out the fitness trail that runs along Riverside Drive and the stunning walking and cycling tracks that take up the South Bank Parklands, and the Musgrave Park Pool is a great place for a cheap swim or game of tennis.
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Davies Park Market in West End, held every Saturday, offers a vibrant atmosphere, lots of local produce, craft and clothing, and at the South Bank Markets, open Thursday through Sunday, you’ll find a colourful mix of clothes, jewellery and food stalls.
The Avid Reader Bookshop, a West End institution, regularly hosts events and book clubs for a nominal entry fee, which are a great way of meeting people.
At the South Bank Cultural Precinct, you will find the Queensland Art Gallery, GOMA (Gallery of Modern Art), Queensland Museum and Sciencenter, and the Maritime Museum, all offering free or cheap entry to certain parts of the venues.
You’re covered for food bargains, too, with loaded American-style hot dogs at The Manhattan Line starting at $10, with a 25% discount for students on Thursdays. You can pick up one of those Australian cultural staples, the jaffle, at Denim Co, with a homestyle baked bean and cheese jaffle starting at $7.50, or a more elaborate lasagne jaffle setting you back a mere $9.