Although I lived in Brisbane for a total of four years back in the 1980s, I felt like a stranger in many ways when I arrived there on Thursday afternoon. First, I found myself a little disoriented, as I arrived at the airport and headed straight for the train. Second, as I was staying in a motel, not with family this time, I found myself having to ask the ticket officer which station I needed to get off to be near Wickham Terrace. And third, I had decided to stay at a motel instead of with my family.
Sadly, the reason for my visit to Brisbane was not a happy one: a family funeral. My nephew was killed in one of those awful car crashes you often see on the evening news, but don’t give too much thought to. Until of course, it’s someone you know. As my family was already under enough stress as it was, for a variety of reasons, I figured it was better this time for them to avoid the stress of having a visitor and checked into a city motel instead. Recognising the concern they would have for me being all alone by myself in Brisbane – “you should have stayed with us” – I decided it was best to tell them a little white lie on this occasion. Hello Christine, by the way.
And that’s all I have to say about the funeral because that’s REALLY personal stuff.
So I’ll share a few observations about Brisbane. Aside from the initial disorientation, there was a certain familiarity about the place, and as I wandered around the city, I wondered from time to time about my life and what it would have been like had I stayed in Brisbane. The more I thought about it, the more undecided I became. Although I thought I would have had a really good life living in Brisbane and certainly would have been much closer to family, I also thought about how moving around the country has also meant new experiences, new friendships and more fulfilling career ambitions.
Brisbane has changed in many ways since the 1980s, most obviously in the large number of tall buildings which dominate the landscape, and in the opening up of Southbank. But as I wandered around the city there were many things I don’t remember from my time there such as an obvious street drug problem, and a rushed appearance on the faces of many people walking by. In some ways, as I wandered around the city with a wide-eyed look in my eyes, I’m sure some people were looking at me with the “he’s a hokie-country boy in the big smoke” thought in their minds.
Despite this, I couldn’t help but be a little judgemental as I looked unsuccessfully for somewhere decent to eat on Southbank, the City, and in The Valley. I ended up settling on a restaurant in Chinatown called “The Enjoy Inn”, and although the food wasn’t too bad, I couldn’t help but compare it with some of the food on offer in Chinatown. Before dinner, I had a beer at “The Wickham”, and after dinner, I had a couple of beers at “The Sportsmans Hotel”, and I thought they were both friendly inviting places, even if I was the subject of audience interaction during the 9.00 pm show.
Anyway, that’s enough about Brisbane for the moment.