Three day art adventure in Brisbane
Feeling artsy? Brisbane's packed full with art exhibitions, street art and cultural experiences - so where are you?
The 9th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art (take a breath) or APT9 for short is taking over the Gallery of Modern Art and the Queensland Art Gallery from 24 November until 28 April with a unique mix of visual spectacle and cross-cultural insight – and it's definitely not one to be missed.
There's no better excuse than to plan a Brisbane long weekend and get a greater taste of all the art, culture and food the Queensland capital has to offer.
10am: QAGOMA is calling
This diamond in the crown of Brisbane's art scene is the city's pride and joy. Over three levels,the 2006-built Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) offers continuous hallways of galleries, purpose-built cinémathèque, children’s art centre, research library, restaurant and retail facilities. But the best thing about it, the air-conditioning is permanently set to a crisp 18 degrees, ideal for expanding your cultural knowledge in the Sunshine State’s capital.
It's easy to get lost here for hours, and being the art lover that you are – allow time to explore the various floors and changing exhibitions. The Asia Pacific Triennial is a must see - pencil it in your diary too.
1pm: Listen to your stomach
Rest your walking legs and head straight into GOMA Restaurant for a dining experience as fresh and forward-thinking as the artwork that surrounds it.
If you’re wanting a break from the gallery, head across the road to Gauge and find some of Brisbane’s best and most imaginative food. The modern spot feels like what would happen if a fine-dining restaurant was casual in vibe and without the price tag. A place for good eating and good drinking – step right this way.
2.30pm: Art art and more art
Head back to GOMA or into QAG (Queensland Art Gallery), which is also in the Cultural Precinct, to continue exploring the exhibitions or take yourself on a self-guided street art trail. The back streets of South Bank, South Brisbane and West End are packed to the brim with local street art. Discover the Pillars Project on the corner of Merivale Street and Montague Road in South Brisbane, wander down Boundary Street in West End and finish with the unmissable artworks on Fish Lane.
5.30pm: Food safari along Fish Lane
Brisbane’s Fish Lane is quickly becoming the city’s coolest laneway. As new buildings pop up, restaurants, cafes and bars are moving in beneath them – making the journey from West End to South Bank an adventure in itself. Design your own progressive food crawl – stop for cheese at La Lune Wine Bar, snacks at Wandering Cooks, noodles at Chu The Phat, wings at Big Roddy’s Rippin’ Rib Shack, rice paper rolls at Hello Please and duck ragu pasta at Julius. Full guide and map here.
7.30pm The show must go on
After eating everything along Fish Lane, roll into the Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC) for big shows and big names whether it be music, theatre, ballet or opera. Look online to see what's on and book ahead.
If you’re a bottomless pit, then we won't judge if you want to keep eating and drinking your way along Fish Lane or through South Bank. Stop in for a tipple at micro-brewery The Charming Squire, a classy cocktail within the heritage-listed walls of Little Big House or rooftop views at Soleil Pool Bar. Still hungry? Head to Little Stanley Street for international cuisine or River Quay for river view dining.
9pm: Listen to local, live music
Step up the beat and seek out live music around Brisbane. Not only a destination for many touring artists, Brisbane breeds excellent local bands and musicians. Here’s your guide to venues big and small, sweaty and intimate, DIY and otherwise in Brisbane.
While you’re in South Bank, see if the pop-up Flowstate, a unique open-air pavilion and creative space, has anything on. The space is hosting a curated program of live performances and gallery-style exhibitions throughout 2018.
9am: Brunch at James Street
Before you take on a day of arts, culture and shopping, fuel up with brunch along James Street. Settle in the leafy surrounds of Harvey’s, the petite loft warehouse King Arthur or feast on the east west fusion of Chow House.
10am: Shop boutique designer stores
Fortitude Valley is home to some of Brisbane’s best boutique shopping. Shop the designers on James Street, find laneway gems in Winn Lane or Bakery Lane and wander the eclectic stores on Ann St. Check out our shopping trail through Fortitude Valley to find the location of specific stores.
12.30pm: Lunch at Gerard’s Bistro
One must tick this venue off any dining bucket list in Brisbane. Head chef Ben Williamson celebrates Middle Eastern and North African cuisine with a European influence. Take friends, it’s a share concept and you’ll want to order lots of dishes, or take yourself and order lots of dishes anyway.
2pm: Gallery crawl around New Farm and Fortitude Valley
Since we’re here for art, the art trail through Fortitude Valley and New Farm showcases many of Brisbane’s boutique art galleries. Check out the map here.
Whether you’re hungry, thirsty or looking for a bit of entertainment, Brisbane Powerhouse offers it all at this riverside location. Dine in at one of the two restaurants, sink a few brews while watching the sunset over the river or wait around for a show that will unfold inside the graffiti-heavy walls. Look online to see who and what will be gracing its many stages.
If you’re wanting more live music, Live Spark occurs every Sunday afternoon for an ever-changing line up of eclectic local and national artists. If comedy is more your thing, pop by late Friday afternoon for a free laugh with Knockoff.
9am: Brunch it up
Escape the hustle and bustle of Queen Street Mall and retreat to Felix for Goodness. Serving up a wholesome menu using local organic ingredients that changes seasonally, sit on stools overlooking the lane and watch the world go by, or soak up the relaxed atmosphere inside.
10am: See the city from above
Just around the corner, dive into a bit of Brisbane history at the Museum of Brisbane. Take the vintage, hand-operated elevator to the top of City Hall’s clock tower for a bird’s eye view of the city before you explore the museum and learn about Brisbane’s history. The exhibitions change regularly telling different sides to Brisbane's evolving story. The gift shop is also a highlight - filled with locally made artisan and gourmet goods.
Whether you’re a local or a tourist, learn something about the art, architecture and history of City Hall on a City Hall tour – there’s even a World War II signature wall in the basement that contains signatures, names and dates of soldiers stationed in Brisbane.
12.30pm: Take in the view and the food.
After a big morning of cultural learning, it’s time to treat yourself to a fine dining experience in Brisbane City. Located four storeys up in 480 Queen Street with panoramic views overlooking the river and the Story Bridge, Otto is dishing out Italian cuisine inspired by southern Italy. Every course is a delight, the wine list is extensive and the service is all-star. Can you tell we are fans?
If your budget is tighter, the neighbouring Bar Otto serves tapas style plates a rotating pasta.
1.30pm: Leave the touring to someone else
You may have already had a small dose of Brisbane’s street art scene, but there’s more to be found in Brisbane City. To make things easier, book a free Brisbane Greeters contemporary art and architecture tour and have a knowledgeable guide take you through the city, while showing and explaining the story behind each artwork. You'd be amazed at how many hidden sculptures and artworks are dotted above, below or in front of your eyes.
5pm: Catch a flick at ye old cinema
The Elizabeth Picture Theatre delivers on the promise of Hollywood glitz and glamour with its Golden Age visage. Step back in time to the hayday of motion pictures in the Tara Room, formerly a ballroom whose roof has been preserved so you can feel that little closer to the stars. Help yourself to a schooner in the cinema and catch a mix of general and limited releases.
Wanting something a little different? Metro Arts plays movies in the Lumen Room. Settle into an old-school chair and catch a program of quirky films. This is the place in Brisbane to experience documentaries, iconic cult and independent films, both local and international.
7:30pm: Head home or eat again
Just one last restaurant, we promise. Madame Wu is definitely one to write home about. Sink your teeth into the Moreton Bay bug-stuffed dumplings and we guarantee you'll revisit this Asian-fusion restaurant.
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