Brisbane is a city with some serious cultural credentials. This is where you’ll find the sprawling Queensland Cultural Centre on South Bank, which hosts every manner of artistic endeavour and a growing number of world-class exhibitions. But this national treasure trove of galleries, museums, theatres and arts spaces is just the start. Brisbane’s cultural hot-spots include eclectic New Farm and Fortitude Valley and the city, with its public art and heritage buildings.
You can satisfy almost every type of culture craving beneath the architecturally-designed roof of the Queensland Cultural Centre on South Bank. Start in the Gallery of Modern Art, which houses more than 10,000 Australian and international artworks and is the largest of its kind in Australia. The retrospectives on Valentino and Warhol are just some of the many prestigious international exhibitions to have toured here.
See the skeleton of a Queensland dinosaur in the Queensland Museum, where downstairs the Queensland Sciencentre offers interactive science fun. Dress up for the ballet, opera, concert or musical in the Queensland Performing Arts Centre or visit the huge State Library of Queensland.
In New Farm, the transformed industrial space of the Brisbane Powerhouse is the venue for theatre, comedy, dance, art, markets and restaurants. Lunch in the riverfront restaurant, browse the exhibitions and enjoy the fun of the regular festivals. Walk along the floating walkway from here to neighbouring Fortitude Valley, a hub for live-music, nightlife and counter culture. The once-gritty valley has been gentrified, but still retains a diverse cultural community and bohemian flair. Catch arthouse movies, visit the independent theatres and see musicians perform in venues steeped in local rock history.
In Brisbane’s CBD, you can see an orchestra play between the grand Corinthian columns of heritage-listed Customs House. Catch everything from cabaret to comedy in Treasury Building, built in the style of an Italian palazzo, or watch community concerts in the historic Brisbane City Hall. The city’s other heritage landmarks include St John’s Anglican Cathedral and Old Parliament House, which overlooks the lush Botanic Gardens. The Queensland University of Technology also has its own cultural precinct, embracing the Roundhouse Theatre, where the city’s La Boite Theatre Company performs.
The city’s cultural excitement ramps up even further during the Brisbane Festival, which runs from mid-September to early October. Enjoy the opening night party in Queensland’s own Spiegel tent. Mix and match surreal circus performances with multi-media exhibitions on plasma screens and the latest Queensland Ballet productions. See international singers such as Chris Isaak or find comedy, cabaret, magic and sneaky sideshows on the festival’s fringe.
This sub-tropical capital may be relaxed, but its cultural program is action-packed.