It took me a while but eventually I found it.
I’d been trawling through lists of the world’s most livable cities, searching, very hard, as it turned out, for one that listed my city – Brisbane – Australia.
By way of background, allow me to share with you the knowledge that as of 2019, our world now plays host to 551 cities. Here ‘City’ is defined as a place populated by at least one million residents.
Sydney and Melbourne, Australia’s’s more recognized, more favored and more glam city cousins reliably feature somewhere in lists of this type. But Brisbane? What were the chances of a city (population 2.3 million) that less than a decade ago was famously described as a no-frills ‘Wednesday Waitress’ of a travel destination getting a gong alongside the likes of ‘fabulous on stilts’ powerhouses like New York, London, Tokyo and Dubai?
Well, like I say, it took some trawling but eventually I did find a list that had the good sense or generosity of spirit – depending on which way you want to look at it – to list my home city. Indexes that stretched to a mere 20 or 30 listings were definitely not the sort of rarefied-air-territory to go looking for a more modest, more functional, less… how to put it… ‘glittering’ city experience the likes of Brisbane.
That list is HERE
It counts all the way to 100. Brisbane comes in 51st position.
I was born in this city. And apart from three years living in Tokyo – Japan and two years residing on a small island in the Torres Strait, I’ve lived my life in this city. I won’t bore you with tales of how I’ve watched the place grow. But I will say I own two great books that brilliantly chronicle that growth.
Taking their cue from an archive project called LOST LONDON (HERE) these two impressive volumes, put together by the The Royal Historical Society of Queensland (HERE) boast over a thousand classic photos of
old vintage Brisbane.
Yet my favorite photo doesn’t come from either of these books. A number of years back I saved a clipping from the local newspaper. It shows a young boy (Lionel Bevis) guiding his wooden goat-cart along a Brisbane street. Corner shops can be seen in the background and an old-style jalopy is about to pass the boy at a bend in the wide road. The photo was taken in 1947. I’ve never seen it published or appear anywhere again, in any format including the internet. I love everything about this photo. For me it is a bona-fide classic!
In addition to works of non-fiction, Brisbane has also been the inspiration for substantive works of fiction over the years, these novels among them –
And now comes another…
Former Brisbane-based author Tony Cavanaugh – (HERE) – who now resides in Sydney – has penned BLOOD RIVER. The book is being described as the most distinctly Brisbane novel published for some time.
Replete with iconic locales such as the Breakfast Creek Hotel, Brisbane private schools, gracious suburbs such as Ascot and old Queenslanders (houses), the author has described his literary creation in interviews as ‘a love letter to Brisbane’.
Considering the story is about a serial killer, it is a love letter that includes blood, profanity and murder.
And if by some small miracle, no-frills, bells or whistles local council websites happen to be your thing, you’re in huge luck HERE.
Ps. And while we’re off the topic of cities and back onto the topic of books and writing… I’ve been wanting to share this cartoon now for some time, ever since I stumbled across it browsing creative writing teacher Bridget Whelan’s site (HERE) It really is so spot on…