Monday, 18 April 2011


Sunday 10 April: Another sprawling Australian city with a few old colonial gems amid the glass-fronted business district. The large city hall is in a state of refurbishment but the Greek Revivalist Shrine of Remembrance squats delightfully above tree lined Anzac Square which leads to the old, but still in use, post office. On the river front, shrouded in high-rise office blocks is the Land Administration Building. Crossing Goodwill Footbridge in pouring rain I head for home through the badly flood-damaged South Bank Parklands.
Tuesday 12: Also damaged by January's severe flooding, the City Botanic Gardens still have a magnificent range of trees, many originally planted to ascertain which timbers would grow well and survive termite attack in this new convict outpost. The multi-rooted fig trees, bunya pines and jack fruit trees are just great. A rainy afternoon in Queensland Art Gallery is also great, with Aboriginal art, a recognisable Russel Drysdale - another poor outback family - I just love the pom-pom slippers. There is also an atmospheric 1960s gallery and European works including a Picasso nude and, my favourite, Burne-Jones's Aurora (1896), a Pre-Raphaelite beauty heralding in dawn with symbol chimes in Oxford, England.
Wednesday 13: Sloping upwards north of the railway station are the well-kept and colourful gardens of Roma Street Parklands, a real inner city highlight with many little Water Monitors dodging between the flower beds.
Friday 15: A dominant factory just west of the city centre is the Castlemaine-Perkins XXXX Brewery. I choose the AU$35 tour (no photos) which includes four beers and a barbecue. We see a few historic displays and some amusing old TV adverts before walking under rows of large 'fresh' and 'bright' beer silos in this industrial scale brewery. I've been on brewery tours before - Fuller's and Young's in West London, Gales in Hampshire, and Guinness in Dublin, so I'm surprised to learn that cheap liquid-cane sugar is added to the malt mash - surely this waters down the flavours of the natural malt sugars? I'm even more surprised when the young guide suggests mixing their Guinness-style black porter with coke to 'improve' the flavour. "No way" is my reply, I think the brewers would agree. A surprisingly good seller which Castlemaine will now market year-round is their new low carb Summer Bright Lager (4.2%), a light sweet quite drinkable option. The XXXX Bitter (4.6%) is pretty tasteless and the lighter XXXX Gold (3.5%) is just bland. None of these come close to any of the ales on offer at the small Sky Blue Brewery in Cairns but, dominated by strong smokey-roast malt overtones, Castlemain's James Squire Porter (5%) is exceptional, a real treat, more please.
Saturday 16: Brisbane's Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA) has plenty of interactive stuff, mostly aimed at kids and it's jam-packed full with them - I'm off.
Photos of Brisbane.

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