Salim Al Tuwaiya
For someone like me, who comes from a country with a high temperature most of the year, it seems like there are only two seasons in Brisbane: scorching summer and dry, moderate winter. It is not Copenhagen with its snowy gloomy mood, nor London with its extremely cold weather. Perhaps not even any other Australian city is like Brisbane. It is a small city, but it has some of the qualities of a large one as it provides a good life for a student and plenty of recreational activities for weekends and short holidays. Brisbane is an ideal city to live in because of its mild, subtropical climate throughout the year and the many events and leisure facilities available. It is a mixture of natural beauty and modern life where you can find beaches, rivers, mountains and forests, as well as commercial complexes, galleries, museums and festivals.
Because it is further to the east than any other Australian city, Brisbane is the first Australian city to see the sunrise. It is no exaggeration to say that this is a poetic symbol of the city itself, linking it to energy, hope and optimism on the reception of a new day. The city’s climate throughout the year makes it a suitable destination for those who suffer from early nightfall in winter. There is no frost in winter and no intense heat in summer, although its strong sun may not appeal to others who come from cooler climes. Beware, summer in the city is sometimes certainly hot, and one cannot walk comfortably or avoid the hot sun while waiting for public transport. Strangely enough, the effect of the sun disappears in the shade, unlike the sun’s heat in other countries. Fortunately, Brisbane has an abundance of forests and trees, even within inner-city neighborhoods, and that relieves the heat a great deal. Summer storms also cool the air, washing the whole scene and relaxing the vision. The city becomes truly amazing after rain, when the smell of the earth is fresh, the colours of trees are vivid and the horizon is pure and clear.
Calmness, peacefulness and friendliness are distinguished features of Brisbane and its inhabitants. Wherever you go, people welcome you with a smile and willingly help you to find your way. Perhaps one of the most interesting nearby sites that one can go to is the City Botanic Gardens, which are located downtown close to the Brisbane River. Here you can enjoy the weather amid indescribably fascinating nature, rich in water, trees and birds. You can hardly tell that you are in the heart of the city when you are overwhelmed by such lavish nature. The surroundings bring tranquility and relieve visitors of their daily concerns. Pleasant views fill your eyes and make you feel grateful. The charming beauty captivates you and takes you away from the noise of the city and to the sounds of birds, the scent of fresh air and the sight of endless greenery. It may remind you of Lonely Beach on Thai Chang Island for there are three common characteristics between the two places: greenery, water and calm. The City Botanic Gardens are nature created amidst the urban. As for Brisbane itself, the reverse is also true: picture the whole city of Brisbane established in the middle of an enormous forest.
The City Botanic Gardens maintain wealthy historical attractions such as Jemmy Morrill and the Brolgas sculpture, and the Bamboo Grove, which was planted in memory of the bamboo collection, which stopped in 1937. You might see other attractive milestones in the park, including ornamental ponds and the Walter Hill Fountain. The latter was established in 1867 as a source of drinking water for the public. It passed through several historic stages before it ceased as a drinking water supply and then was converted into a fountain for the purpose of adornment. The other remaining milestones each have an interesting story rooted in the near and distant past.
The aesthetics of the City Botanic Gardens are not limited to a few landmarks. Everything in it highlights the creative, artistic spirit of both humans and nature. The forms of the interior walkways and perennial giant trees are both stunningly unique. Bicycles also can be ridden on some walkways. Moreover, those who are interested in jogging can find their way across high and low walkways. Everything is organized in a way that does not disturb the calm and serenity of the surroundings. Instead, it adds a meditative dimension to the scene.
On the other side of the City Botanic Gardens, there is a walkway, which extends along the river and another scene is created, crowded with boats, yachts, ships and houses built on the top of the cliffs overlooking the other bank of the river. Wherever you direct your gaze, you will find something that fills you with deep passion and love for life.
According to the official website of the Brisbane City Council, the city has more than 100 walkways. Among the most notable differences between Australian cities and other western cities are spaciousness and breadth. The majority of European cities are packed with people and buildings, while Brisbane’s population does not exceed 2.2 million despite the fact that it is the third largest Australian city, after Sydney and Melbourne. Furthermore, places in Brisbane diverge and their height above sea level differs, which in turn affects the hiking trails whether you are in the bush, hills, suburbs or the city. When it comes to walking, all of this provides multiple options. Whoever is interested in walking in company can join the walking groups in the area where he or she lives. These groups organize tours for both slow and rapid walking for periods ranging between half an hour and an hour. In addition, they organize walking with dogs, families and fitness exercises while people enjoy talking during the promenade. Members usually begin to walk in the early morning, often several times a week, and call their groups by names closely related to health or place.
The city has great surprises in store for lovers of long walks in the open air. Even when the CBD flourishes with movement and people, there are still plenty of options for walking in the heart of it. When leaving the City Botanic Gardens, hiking trails branch off between the CBD streets and the restaurants overlooking the river. The walkway expands to become separated from the City Botanic Gardens and leads you to a series of equally attractive fine restaurants. It can be difficult to choose one if you decide to dine. In fact, a variety of delicious international food is developing here with many irresistible dishes. Nothing is tastier than a cup of coffee or a glass of red wine with at least a few appetisers in order to instill the whole generous scene into your memory forever. There are cities one loves passionately, and Brisbane is one of them. The experience will satisfy you immediately and touch your skin, your senses and your soul. Nothing can equal the positive impact of the air, walking, water and greenery. In case you decide to leave, you will make your way again through those intersecting streets that lead to one another without interruption.
Wherever a walker steps, the city offers him or her a priceless visual gifts. Brisbane CBD is not without historical significance. The Albert St. church is an architectural masterpiece, which never fails to draw attention. Constructed in 1889, it is the most beautiful church in Brisbane. The red clay brick exterior attracts visitors, and it is no less impressive inside as well, which makes it a popular choice for marriage ceremonies. During World War II the church witnessed 16 marriages there in one day. The church overlooks the King George Square, a place where the walker can take a break. Here there is ceaseless movement as people of all ages come for a walk or watch the ongoing activities of the square throughout the year. Culture, art, festivals, sports, families’ events, food markets and countless activities are held here.
Close to the square and around it, there are many outstanding sights for one to explore. Brisbane’s high-rises are stationed in this region, but they are still not extreme in height. Some time in the past, I spent several years in cities, which were almost purely concrete and did not have the spirituality needed to ease the stress of their unreasonably high skyscrapers. I think it is such a shame to live in a city where you cannot see the horizon unless you raise your head, as if you were living in the bottom of a well! Fortunately, Brisbane includes only a small number of skyscrapers and so lacks the density of bigger cities.
However, modernity and nature are in harmony. In the midst of the high buildings and busy streets full of workers, shoppers and tourists, a walker captures his breath to sit on a bench in the Brisbane Arcade, Queens Gardens, City Hall or Anzac Square. There you can see shrines, statues, burners and memorials which commemorate Australians who took part in campaigns and were killed in several wars, such as World War I and II, the Vietnam War, Korea and New Guinea.
This is the tip of the iceberg. Patient lovers of walking will find more surprises waiting for them here and there, inside and outside the city. Crossing the Victoria Bridge is an opportunity you should not miss, especially as the scene of the Brisbane River from here seems panoramic and exceptional when you lay your sight on all four sides and on the vast horizon. Moreover, the reflection of the colours on the river during sunrise, sunset, and even at night is splendid especially when the lights of tall buildings are on. At this moment, a beautiful painting drawn by nature appears right before your eyes. It is creative and contemplative as well as a relief from the psychological pressure and physical stress. I must not forget the Brisbane Riverwalk, which was recently re-built after the floods that swept Brisbane in 2011. It is very close and dedicated to walking and cycling. For a distance of 870 meters, views of wharfs, Brisbane CBD and the boats that sail on the river are a great reward, but in order to fully enjoy the scene, you should avoid the midday sun because the Riverwalk, just like the bridges, is not covered.
Eventually, you feel deep satisfaction. Should you continue walking, looking and listening to the sounds of nature? The sun may be somewhat scorching, but it is the sun of Brisbane. You only need shade, a cool drink and sober thoughts. Last but not least, your desire is met by a cafe in Southbank. The time has come. You sip your drink, extend your eyes and see pedestrians, a section of the river, lush gardens and the girl playing harp who has just commenced a new tune.