Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The Cathedral of St Stephen

The Cathedral of St Stephen is part of the Catholic Archdiocese of Brisbane. In addition to the Cathedral, the site bounded by Elizabeth, Charlotte and Edward Streets contains numerous buildings that support the Archdiocese. The cathedral was built between 1864 and 1922 in 19th century neo-Gothic style, with extensions made in 1989. Bishop Quinn, the first bishop of the diocese, laid the foundation stone of the cathedral on the feast of St Stephen, 26 December 1863.

The Cathedral is part of the history of Brisbane, and is registered as one of the city's heritage sites. There are a number of significant artworks within the Cathedral. The sculptures were commissioned from Brisbane artist, John Elliott. The Carrara marble baptismal font and sculpture is by Melbourne artist, Peter Schipperheyn, as are the Cathedra (Bishop's Chair), Ambo and Altar. The fine collection of nineteenth century stained glass came from Germany, France, Ireland and England. There are also aboriginal paintings, which recognise the search for God by Indigenous Australians, over 40 000 years before white settlement. Daily tours are available at 10.30am Monday to Friday, and after masses each Sunday.

As I've said before, I'm not a very religious person, however in looking at architecture and buildings around Brisbane some of the most spectacular is related to the Church. I hadn't been inside a church for a long while, and I was awestruck by the magnificence of the insides of the chapel. The stained glass windows, the Christ sculpture and the organ literally take your breath away. I was fortunate in that the cathedral was mostly empty, so I was able to saviour the delights largely by myself.

Cheers, I Love Brisbane, Wes.

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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

John Mills Himself

John Mills was a successful Brisbane printer, who traded from Adelaide Street as Mills and Green, printers and stationers, in the early 1900's. After a dissolution of his partnership, from 1909 Mills was trading as John Mills Himself, hence the title on this building.

During the First World War his business expanded, with a warehouse established at Newstead. In 1919 he erected this premises at 40 Charlotte Street which was designed by Brisbane architect John Henry Burley of Queen Street. By the 1920s the business was well established, attracting clients such as Steele Rudd. After his death, the business was conducted by his sons, John and Sam, and remained in the family until the 1980s. Now it is the home of Archives Fine Books.

At least the building has retained part of its association with the printing business. If you are up for a good long browse, this location is an easy place to get lost in. As they promote, they claim to have 1,000,000 books. Selling predominantly second hand and antiquarian books they do have quite a vast catalogue. They can purchase and search for books worldwide on your behalf, and also do appraisal and repairs of books. I have had occasion to wander in and use serendipity myself!

Cheers, I Love Brisbane, Wes.

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Monday, January 29, 2007

Brisbane Square

Brisbane Square is the new home of the Brisbane City Council. It is situated on the block between George Street, Queen Street and Adelaide Street, opposite the Treasury Casino (on the Queen Street side), and the Law Courts Complex (on the Adelaide Street side). Construction was completed in late 2006, and the architect for the project was Denton Corker Marshall. The building also will be the new home for Suncorp Metway.

Aside from the high rise building, the area has also become home to the new Brisbane Library and Customer Centre. Open most days except public holidays, the library offers a multitude of services far beyond the traditional book borrowing. There's a news lounge, learning lounge, City Zoo (where you can play XBox), sound and vision lounge, history gallery and internet lounge. They've done a great job making this a great information resource for Brisbane residents and visitors.

It is the public space at Brisbane Square which has opened up the top end of the Queen Street Mall. Aside from the multicoloured bases of the main building, the open space with trees and the sphere sculptures makes for a far better outlook than the construction site and rather desolate park which had graced the site over the past few years. Is was trying to think what the spheres look like, until I read a review at the Quit Your Day Job blog which says it all... Beryllium Spheres!

Cheers, I Love Brisbane, Wes.

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Sunday, January 28, 2007

Dragon Tree

In the City Botanic Gardens near the Garden's Cafe is the Dragon Tree. The particular species of Dragon Tree is the Dracaena draco, or the Canary Islands Dragon Tree.

This particular tree does originate from the Canary Islands. The Garden's original curator, Walter Hill, planted it in 1862. The tree can live up to 400 years, and is very slow growing and does not branch or flower until it is 30 years old. The tree was damaged in 1984 during a storm, and you can see the poles which have been used to stabilise it to help prolong its life. Dragon tree wood is very heavy with red sap that oozes from the trunk when cut. This resin was used by 18th century Italian violin-makers for varnishing their instruments. It was also used for staining marble.

The tree is quite spectacular and sits at a high point in the Garden flanked by part of the rainforest section. The lawn runs down the hill from that point, providing views back to the city. I also have to make a comment about the Cafe. As much as I love that their is a cafe in the garden's, with magnificent views, they really do need to consider their pricing at the kiosk. Over double the normal price for a medium cup of Coke really is exploiting those who want to go and enjoy the serenity but get thirsty on a hot day.

Cheers, I Love Brisbane, Wes.

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Saturday, January 27, 2007

The Firemen's Memorial

At the pointed intersection of Queen Street and Eagle Street is a small park which holds the Firemen's Memorial. It is also known as the Mooney Memorial Fountain. It is significant for its association with James Mooney, a volunteer fireman who had lost his life while fighting a fire in Queen Street in March 1877. In true Australian fashion in that alcohol was involved, it happened to be when a keg of rum exploded. His was the first recorded death of a fireman in Queensland. it is an excellent example of a Victorian era monument and the careful and ornate design shows great skill and craftsmanship.

The memorial has a gothic architecture, and was erected originally in 1880. It was designed by the City Engineer, W H Chambers and sculpted by William Webster. Also at the site is a magnificent weeping fig tree which hangs over the memorial. Originally, there were three lions heads which provided a continuous water trickle, but in the restoration of the fountain in 1988 these were replaced by a more hygienic bubbler tap system. At that time it was also dedicated not just to James Thomas Mooney, but to all fire fighters who have served their community so nobly.

There are a number of plaques at the site, but I am particularly taken with this one, The Firemen's Prayer. I think it most apt if I let the marker speak for itself.

Cheers, I Love Brisbane, Wes.

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Friday, January 26, 2007

Australia Day Fireworks

Today is Australia Day. On Australia Day we Australians come together as a nation to celebrate what's great about Australia. It's the day to reflect on what we have achieved and what we can be proud of in our great nation. It was on this day in 1788 when Captain Arthur Phillip took formal possession of the colony of New South Wales and thus established Australia as we know it. Brisbane as a city wasn't established until 1842 and was originally established (like a lot of areas in Australia) as a penal colony.

Today is a day of backyard cricket, barbeques, and evening fireworks. On the Brisbane River as part of the Australia Day Festival they organised evening fireworks which my son and I went and saw. We watched most of it from the Victoria Bridge which gave a good view down the river with South Bank on our right, and the city to our left. The South Bank Parklands were full tonight with a wide cross section of the Brisbane public. It is great that so many people get out and about on this day, and also great that the majority of people have a public holiday. Unfortunately, since we now have almost unlimited shopping days, a lot of retail businesses still had to operate today, but that did mean we could get an ice-cream after the fireworks!

Many of our indigenous people do not necessarily celebrate Australia Day, but celebrate Survival or Invasion Day. This doesn't mean Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are not proud Australians - their cultures rest firmly on pride, respect and care for this great land we all share. I recognise that it is truly our indigenous people who are the rightful keepers of the land, but ultimately, we're all just visiting!

Cheers, I Love Brisbane, Wes.

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Thursday, January 25, 2007

Juxtaposition I

Juxtaposition I is a sculpture which was commissioned by the Brisbane City Council and installed in 1990. The sculpture is another of those dotted around King Edward Park, which reaches between Turbot Street and Wickham Terrace. The artist for the sculpture was Robert J Morris.

Born in South Australia, Robert J. M. Morris has had a rather consistent theme to his sculpture. He has art which may be termed as painting sculpture. He has travelled and exhibited internationally, and I now believe he is located in Cincinnati, Ohio in the U.S. He is recorded as saying:

"I exist in a Time & Space that is simultaneously material & spiritual. The material is my painting & space is the environment in which I work. Time moves me through this space to the next space or moment of existence. The spiritual is my inner self (gaining) understanding through the act of painting".

Unfortunately I feel that this artwork is a little worse for wear being out in the sometimes harsh Brisbane sun for over 15 years. It also isn't helped that at the moment there is some ground works going on in the park, which have meant that there is some quite unattractive orange temporary fencing surrounding the sculpture. I like the contrast of the colours used, and feel I can get a sense of the type of landscape he may have been trying to depict.

Cheers, I Love Brisbane, Wes.

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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Central Station

The official address for the Central Railway Station is 304 Ann Street. In reality, the entire facade extends down most of the block on Ann Street, and is bounded by Edward, Turbot and Creek Streets. The clock tower of the Ann Street frontage aligns with the war memorial opposite and the entire building provides a backdrop for ANZAC Square. The station is the central railway station for the Queensland Rail CityTrain rail network.

Central Station was constructed as the inner city link of the Queensland railway network, operational from 18 August 1889. The original building was completed in 1901. Over the years, the Central Station complex has been substantially altered, with the most intact section being this facade fronting Ann Street. This section is an example of Federation Free Style architecture. It is a significant landmark in the city of Brisbane.

Today the station acts as one of the main hubs of the rail network. I used to catch the train into the city and this was my main drop off point. The internals have been modernised to reflect a modern rail network, but the main facade still retains its heritage qualities. Most people, however, access the station from the walkway entrances at Edward and Creek Streets, or via the subway from ANZAC square.

Cheers, I Love Brisbane, Wes.

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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Queen Victoria in Queens Gardens

This imposing bronze statue of Queen Victoria, a replica by English sculptor Sir Thomas Brock of the original in Portsmouth, was erected in mid-1906. The purchase was arranged by local artist Godfrey Rivers, and was funded by public subscription and subsidies from state and local government. The pedestal was designed by the Public Works Department and crafted by local stonemason William Kitchen. The statue was an expression of Queensland's loyalty to the British Empire. The monument remains the only statue of Queen Victoria in Brisbane.

Located in Queens Garden, the statue is outside what is now the Conrad Hotel. The gardens were established in their current form in 1963, although since the erection of the monument they had been public gardens.

I must say that as you approach the monument up the diagonal pathways, you don't get a real sense of the grandeur of this sculpture. It is only when you stand underneath that I got the real sense of majesty for what Queen Victoria represented. I originally thought that it was "just another royal statue", however as I moved around the base I became more overawed. Although rather expressionless, the sculpture does exemplify the carriage of royalty.

Cheers, I Love Brisbane, Wes.

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Monday, January 22, 2007

Anchors Away

Just near Waterfront Place, at the rear of Naldham House, you'll find this particular monument as part of Brisbane's maritime history. The site now occupied by Waterfront Place was part of Brisbane's original port. Parts of the Cellar still visible today date from 1864, when the first shipping office was erected on the site. With the amalgamation of several small companies into the Australian United Steamship Navigation Company in 1888-1889, Naldham House was built.

Now its home to the Brisbane Polo Club, and as their web site outlines: "Maritime trade with India, which was a major part of the business of all these early shipping companies, established a link with the British Raj. Thus was the theme the Brisbane Polo Club used in its restoration of Naldham House." Hence the anchor out the back!

It's funny that rather than focus on the architecture of the building, as I wandered around Brisbane with the kids, I found it far easier to focus on the anchor. This was probably because I could perch the kids around each point, and get them to smile whilst I took their photo. Unfortunately, something far more interesting on the roadside took their attention, hence the look away aspect of the shot!

Cheers, I Love Brisbane, Wes.

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Sunday, January 21, 2007

Perkin's Stables

Although this artwork, Perkin's Stables, looks like it is indoors, it actually is quite close to the footpath on Mary Street, and confronts you as you walk down the street. It is at the entrance to Quest River Park Central, located between Edward & Albert Streets, at 120 Mary Street. It was created by artist Cezary Stulgis, and installed in January of 2004.

From the plaque at the site, it describes a drawing of workers at The Perkins (Brewery) Stables located at the site of the current building, but circa 1900. The artist drew his inspiration from a photograph in a daily newspaper of the time. The Perkins Stables acted as the transport division for the brewery, which was located directly across the street. A fire destroyed the Perkins Brewery in 1935, however the stables building remained (in a modified form) on the site until the apartment block was built in 2004.

Made of welded mild steel, sheet and rod, with a red polyurethane coating, it is hard not to notice this art. I'm glad its not hidden away behind the glass doors of the apartments. Cezary has a number of other artworks around Brisbane, which I hope to include in these pages over the course of the year. Next to the artwork is also a memorial plaque to John Mangano, a young man taken before his time, who worked on the new buildings development.

Cheers, I Love Brisbane, Wes.

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Saturday, January 20, 2007

The Free Red Loop Bus

The Loop bus service is a transport service which operates on two routes, clockwise and anti-clockwise, around the Central Business District. Most obvious by the distinctive Red buses which mainly operate the route, you can hop on and off at a number of different locations and get from one end of the city to the other with relative ease. Each bus stop on the service has distinctive red signposts as well. The whole circuit takes about 15-20 minutes.

Details of the loop stops and locations can be found on the Translink web site. Suffice to say, all the main sites through the city, like the Queen Street Mall, City Botanic Gardens, and Eagle Street all get passed by. Best of all the loop is Free! It runs Monday to Friday from 7:00am to 6:00pm, approximately every 10 minutes.

I've found this a great way to get around the city. If I need to get somewhere and I'm feeling too lazy to walk, I can get on the bus and around the same time I can be at the other end of the city. The buses are air-conditioned, new and very comfortable. A great service, but now, if they could only extend it to the weekends as well...

Cheers, I Love Brisbane, Wes.

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Friday, January 19, 2007

The Queen Street Mall

The Queen Street Mall is a pedestrian thoroughfare which runs through the centre of Brisbane, from Edward Street to George Street. Spanning two city blocks and around half a kilometre, the Mall is the premier shopping precinct within the Central Business District. These three photos show shots as you progress up the mall, beginning at Edward Street.

There are many iconic shops located throughout the Mall, and a raft of shopping locations. If you want to shop in Brisbane this is where you go. It is also a common meeting place, with many people meeting where Albert Street would cross the Mall at the Hungry Jacks or Rankins Newsagent. Although most of the mall is open space, there is a large overhead panel at this location, which it makes it good for shade from the sun and cover from the rain.

As I continued up the Mall today taking these shots, I was amazed at how much greenery is around in the city. There are a number of large trees, and many raised garden beds. There's also ample seating so you can sit and wait and people watch. At the top end of the mall a performance stage often showcases bands, street performance and street theatre and surprisingly or not, it usually is quite good. Whenever an Australian Idol comes to town its always packed!

Cheers, I Love Brisbane, Wes.

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Thursday, January 18, 2007

The Nursing Sister

There are a number of War Memorial sculptures in ANZAC Square. This one is a World War II memorial to the spirit and tradition of nursing sisters. Located on the Adelaide Street side of the park, it is placed on one of the main side walkways through the park. About 3,500 Australian Army nurses served either overseas or in Australia during World War II. Those who served close to the battlefield experienced at first hand not only the discomforts of makeshift field hospitals, including mud, dust, bad food, and lack of normal amenities, but also the risks and horrors of war.

The memorial depicts a wounded Australian soldier being assisted by a nursing sister. The associated plaque outlines that it is a scene typical of all theatres of war and exemplifies the involvement of all Australian servicemen and women in World War II. Unfortunately, although there are at least two references to the politician who unveiled the sculpture, details of the sculptor aren't readily revealed. The memorial also has a number of newspaper articles etched into the base, outlining nursing involvement throughout the war.

What hope it must have been if you were wounded in battle, and a nurse was able to come to your aid. I imagine that in most war, particularly on the battleground, you would be left for dead. And yet, here, depicted, is a woman just as heroic as any soldier offering her service not to kill but to save life. If only nurses ran the wars, then we could all go home.

Cheers, I Love Brisbane, Wes.

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Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The Old Windmill

On Wickham Terrace in Wickham Park, overlooking the city, stands the Old Windmill. Built in 1828 by convicts, it is allegedly the oldest surviving building in Brisbane. Originally built as a working windmill, it was used to grind flour and maize for the penal settlement. The site is now Brisbane Heritage Listed.

Over the years it has fallen in and out of use. It was the first temporary home of the Queensland Museum, back in 1862. It was used as a signal station and fire lookout during the late 19th century, and in the 1920-1940's was used as an experimental transmission station for early radio and television broadcasts. You can also notice it has a time ball on the very top, which was dropped regularly at 1:00pm from 1895-1930.

I have no idea how you get into the place now. I couldn't find any guidance, and it seems the large wooden doors are closed up. Apparently it is currently used as a weather station, so they wouldn't want anybody just rocking up and adding water to the rainfall gauges. I think it would be cool to go up the top and look down over the city, and imagine what it was like more than 150 years ago.

Cheers, I Love Brisbane, Wes.

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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Cathedral Square

Cathedral Square is bounded by Ann, Wharf and Turbot Streets at the North East end of the city. It is so named as it is opposite St John's Cathedral, located on Ann Street. It would seem they deliberately laid out the gardens and features within the park so that from most angles you would have a view of the Cathedral.

For many years, Bob Dobbs was involved with as the curator of many of the parks and gardens around the city, including Cathedral Square. One thing that had struck me over the years of walking past the park was the vast array of floral displays which adorned the garden beds, particularly in the Spring. Unfortunately, with the large scale water restrictions in place at the moment it is only Australian native flora which has been maintained, although the lawns are still quite lush.

This park to me has always been a "chill" park. I can go up there and just sit and not worry about anything. Even though its not as enclosing as the Botanic Gardens, its far enough away from the centre of the city as to not be too busy, but still civic enough that you can people watch.

Cheers, I Love Brisbane, Wes.

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Monday, January 15, 2007


In the various parks and gardens of the city at this time of year you will often find lizards out and about in the morning and afternoon sun. They range in size from your little titchers, geckos, blue tongues and various sized water dragons. The often will be on rock walls, or in some instances they will block your path on many of the walkways around the city.

This little beauty happened to be in the City Botanic Gardens. He is what is considered an Australian Water Dragon, or Physignathus lesueurii. At this time of year you will find several as you navigate the garden's pathways particularly around the ponds.

I came across this one on a pathway near the ornamental ponds. At around one and half feet, I assumed it was a he, but I have no idea about determining the sex of lizards! He was sunning himself in the middle of the walkway, but as I came up trying to get as close as possible, he darted off into the relative cover of the undergrowth. I pursued him, and managed to get this shot of him watching me watching him. I'm sure if he could talk he would have said "Nick Off!".

Cheers, I Love Brisbane, Wes.

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Sunday, January 14, 2007

1974 Flood Level Marker

In the midst of the City Botanic Gardens, on the main walkway from the Albert Street entrance through to the City Garden's Cafe, is the 1974 Brisbane flood level marker. In January 1974 Brisbane was subjected to the worst flooding of the Brisbane River since before the turn of the century. Over a foot of water fell in the course of two days, with more in the reaches above the city.

A large area of the city of Brisbane was flooded, 14 people lost their lives, and 6700 homes were ruined. 5000 people were left homeless. This marker in the gardens was erected in 1999 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the floods, and the level reached by the flood in the gardens. Since then, the Wivenhoe Dam was built to negate this from happening again. Given the current harsh water restrictions in place, and the lack of water in that Dam, another heavy rain to fill the dam would be quite welcome.

My kids love the Gardens, and its not difficult to coax them into the city on the weekend to run around, play cricket and explore. Its also not difficult to get them to pose for cheesy photo's on some of city's fine landmarks. My son, Ethan, was happy to indulge in a spot of sit in Dad's photos. I have to admit, I encouraged him to do it!

Cheers, I Love Brisbane, Wes.

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Saturday, January 13, 2007

ANZAC Square

ANZAC Square, which is dedicated to the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) is located between Ann Street and Adelaide Street. This view is across the road on the Adelaide Street side of the park. The square features a park area with various memorial statues, along with the Shrine of Remembrance which holds the Eternal Flame. The ANZAC Square War Memorial is also located here.

ANZAC Square is dedicated to Australia's military heritage. In most cities around Australia you will find significant parks, shrines and memorials of this nature. At present the Square is undergoing some refurbishment, in particular with the memorial ponds at the Ann Street side of the park. The Park also holds some unique flora in the form of the Bribie Island Pine Bottle trees.

Although I've never served, I respect what the ANZAC represents, and in particular the statement "Lest We Forget". To me, this means that we should never wish to make war, lest we forget the sacrifice of those who have gone before. War is a terrible thing, often fought by those with little relation to the leaders who engage the conflict in the first place. Personally, I'd fight to preserve my children, and the freedoms which we have in this country, one of the luckiest of all. But I'd do this only after all other forms of democracy had failed.

Cheers, I Love Brisbane, Wes.

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Friday, January 12, 2007

Christ Accepting His Cross

On Wickham Terrace, just up from the intersection of Ann Street, is the All Saints Anglican Church. At the rear of the church is one of the most powerfully emotional sculptures I have come across. Entitled Christ Accepting His Cross, the sculpture depicts Christ standing at the Cross with the sculptor capturing in his posture and face a sense of the vast emotions which would overcome any man or woman with knowledge of their fate to be.

Andor Mészáros (1900-1972) was a Hungarian architect and sculptor who arrived in Australia in 1939. He has various sculptures located throughout Australia, as well as turning his hand to designing medallions. He cast this piece in bronze and the plaque at the site details how it was erected in 1962 to commemorate the centenary of the church, being unveiled on the 8/9/62. I am amazed at how well this sculpture has retained its lustre and image over the past 40 plus years.

Again, I'd reiterate that I'm not a religious person, however this image of Christ contemplating the cross and what we know is to befall him is quite evocative. The cross itself is quite simple. It is the image of the man at the bequest of his faith which elicits the emotional response. In the Anglican Church image archives they note that "Mészáros has treated the figure so that it can also represent any individual, or the whole of humanity, as questions of meaning and purpose are raised."

Cheers, I Love Brisbane, Wes.

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Thursday, January 11, 2007

Gardens Point Boat Harbour

On the town reach of the Brisbane River at Gardens Point, there is a boat harbour mooring. If you look towards the point from the Brisbane Riverwalk you get this view. Garden's Point forms part of the city Botanic Gardens. On the other side of the river behind the various boats you can make out the Kangaroo Point Cliffs.

There are 54 yacht moorings, and it is quite common to see a number of yachts moored at any particular time of the year. They range in type from the old junkers, through to the more exotic catamarans, although the berths are too small to get your monster cruisers there. The rates are quite reasonable, at $50 a week. This is part of the reason why some people prefer to live on their yacht! Many have small dinghies they use to get across to the "mainland".

When I was a kid, I used to love the challenge of doing jigsaw puzzles which had harbour scenes. It seemed they would do these to allow you to get a lot of different colour and variation in the picture, which would make it easier to do. Scenes like this always remind me of that. We also have had some nasty sea weather of late, which probably explains why the berths are almost full at this particular harbour.

Cheers, I Love Brisbane, Wes.

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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Albert Street Uniting Church

I have to admit that I'm not a very religious person, but I do love the architecture of churches. In most cities, you find an interesting juxtaposition of mostly old style churches backdropped againt modern architectural giants. Brisbane is no exception, as can be seen from this photo of the Uniting Church located at the intersection of Albert and Ann Streets, opposite King George Square. Built in 1889 the church is noted for the intricacy and stories of its stained glass windows. Further, the church also houses its original pipe organ which had been Manchester in the U.K. and installed in 1889. The original pipework has been retained, but with additions over time now has 2,250 pipes.

As part of the Wesley Mission, the church has been a haven for the needy for well over a century now. As early as 1906, the church established the Sisters of the People whose charter was to give help and relief to the poor, starving and destitute. This is a very noble cause. The building is also registered on the Queensland Heritage listings.

Part of the reason I like this particular church is not only for its Victorian Gothic architecture style, but also because of the attached Lion's Den Cafe. The cafe acts as a non-profit, all ages live music venue and they definitely cater for a wide range of styles. One of my friend's bands, Say Nothing, have played a number of all ages gigs there .

Cheers, I Love Brisbane, Wes.

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Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Moreton Bay Figs in the Gardens

Just inside the Edwards Street entrance to the City Botanic Gardens, on the Alice Street side of the walkway, there are a number of magnificent fig trees which are incredibly mature. Known as Moreton Bay Figs, one of the main features is the habit of having aerial roots. These drop from the overhead branches and form supplementary trunks, giving further support to the overall tree structure.

There are several trees dotted throughout the gardens, and several throughout Brisbane and the surrounding suburbs. The more mature trees are spectacular, and can provide vast shade to the hot sun here. Some of the trees in the gardens are apparently over 150 years old. The look of the aerial roots make some people consider that the trees are "melting".

As you can see, the large supportive trunk structures provides a fantastic hiding place and maze for kids. My kids love to run around these trees and hide as I yell for them to "Get out of there!" This of course results in yells back of "No, come and find us if you want us!"

Cheers, I Love Brisbane, Wes.

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Monday, January 8, 2007

Still Life with Landscape

King Edward Park, which reaches between Turbot Street and Wickham Terrace, is an interesting place. It was named in the early part of the century to honour King Edward VII. In the 1990's it was reopened as a sculpture park for works from the Brisbane City Council. The park is touted as being a great place for wedding photos, however, it has quite a steep bank. There are a number of sculptures within the park.

Robert Parr was an engineer who it would appear did sculpture as a hobby, although he taught it at Canberra School of Art for several years. It was put in the park in 1990 after being commissioned by the council. It is representative of many of his works if you look at other pieces in the above link.

This would most likely be one of his larger pieces, and I really like it! As you come across it walking up the path, the main focus is on the flowers, which get the three dimensional aspect regardless of how you view the piece. However, when you look at it face on, as in the picture above, you get the framed landscape perspective, with the flowers on the table providing foreground to the view "out the window" so to speak. If only we all could look at the window at a park.

Cheers, I Love Brisbane, Wes.

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Sunday, January 7, 2007

Riparian Plaza

Riparian Plaza is a skyscraper development which was completed in late 2005. When we first came to Brisbane, there weren't that many buildings which you would have considered skyscrapers, and this was the first to hit the 200 metre mark in Brisbane. We watched it slowly grow from a hole in the ground next to the Brisbane River up to its impressive height, topped off with a communications spire visible from most of the surrounding suburbs of Brisbane. Located at 71 Eagle Street, the main entrance faces the street and has a row of imported palm trees providing some greenery in an otherwise stark concrete landscape. I do, however, find the view from the bottom quite aesthetically satisfying!

Riparian was built by Multiplex from a design by Harry Seidler. There are some interesting aspects to the building in that it is mixed residential and commercial, the car park goes up to the 11th level, and the recreation centre and swimming pool are way up on the 39th floor. Imagine the view whilst you were swimming laps! There are also restaurants around the base, including Kingsley's Steak and Crabhouse who although quite pricey, serve excellent food.

The construction did experience some significant delays. It was due for completion in 2004, but this stretched on. It used to really annoy me, as they blocked the main walkway along the river during construction. There was a sign there I remember which I think said the river walk would be open in September 2004, but it wasn't to be taking a good year more. Thankfully, when it did get close to completion they did reopen it, and now we once again can stroll effectively all the way along the river on the City side. This shot was taken from the walkway towards the Botanic Gardens.

Cheers, I Love Brisbane, Wes.

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Saturday, January 6, 2007

Kookaburra River Queens

The Kookaburra River Queens are two large paddle steamers which do tourist cruises up and down the Brisbane River. The two paddle wheelers are appropriately known as Kookaburra River Queens I and II, and have been around for around 20 years. Their history dates back to the Expo 88, the World Exposition which was held in Brisbane that year.

As you can see, both of the paddle wheelers are quite majestic. They were built out of Queensland timbers, and were apparently named after the kookaburra. This is an Australian bird who is never seen to drink water, which as the owners outline, is something most boat owners wouldn't want to do. When I see them, I can't help but hum a few bars of Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree.

I've been on the River Queens a few times during my time here in Brisbane. The basic route is to go up under the Story Bridge and turn around before hitting New Farm, and then cruise back up to the South Bank area. The departure point is Eagle Street Pier. They cater for weddings, general public cruises and private cruises, and generally have a buffet as the main meal service.

Cheers, I Love Brisbane, Wes.

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Friday, January 5, 2007

Felix the Mobile Man

This definitely is one sculpture that took my eye. Just outside the Vroom cafe on the corner of Mary and Felix Streets, you'll notice a huge metallic male. He's standing there, appearing to extol the virtues of some business strategy he's devised to a like minded person on the other end of his mobile phone call. To me, that's why I refer to him as the Mobile Man. Standing over 3 metres tall "Felix", as he's really known, commands your attention although his attention isn't directed at you. Created by Terry Summers, I was surprised to read he started life as a pile of cardboard, destined for the dump.

One of the most fascinating pieces of this sculpture is the feet. I love the way the sculptor paid attention to the detail of the shoes and buckles. The open flaring of the shoes almost gives the impression that you can see his socks as well, and to me these would be some kind of funky hoop lined or candy striped numbers. The whole suit he's adorned in gives the image an eclectic touch, so to me he looks like not just a businessman, but someone with an eclectic flair. An entrepreneur doing his latest creative deal.

Ultimately the life of this person, were he real, wouldn't be mine. I'm too conservative and labour minded. Although I like to think of myself as quite creative, most people would say I have the fashion flair of a 15 year old wet blanket. And there's no way I'd wear shoes with buckles either!

Cheers, I Love Brisbane, Wes.

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Thursday, January 4, 2007

An Historic Bank

The National Australia Bank at 308-322 Queen Street is registered as a Brisbane Historic Site. This forms part of the Brisbane Heritage Trail, which can be taken as a walking tour of the city. The Queensland National Bank was formed back in 1872, and all the big knob bankers of the time decided they needed a grand bank to represent them. As you can see, the size and for the time opulent nature of the bank reflected the prosperity of the time.

There is a guide reference next to the bank which outlines its history. It was completed in 1885 after five years of construction in what was known as the Italian Revival style. This was mainly for the Corinthian columns look, which gives it that slightly Roman feel. Inside they have a mahogany and walnut furniture, but I wasn't quite prepared to walk into the bank and take photos for the obvious security reasons.

For such a young country with respect to European influence, I'm still amazed that we seem to have a mix of architectural influences from various places and types in our Australian cities. Part of the reason for throwing this image up is because I love to look at historical sites and imagine the more historical reference markers they would have been using to define their style. Its hard to find much older than 200 years architecturally here in our cities in relation to when they were built, but from my naive eyes, and I'm no student of architectural design, their seems to be a hell of a lot of varying influence!

Cheers, I Love Brisbane, Wes.

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Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Koala House Koalas

The Koala House in Brisbane City isn't quite what you might think it should be. There aren't any real koalas there. Located on the corner of Creek and Adelaide Streets at number 256, Perhaps its main claim to fame is that it houses the Oshin Japanese Restaurant. There's also an Apple Computer store as well as an express food outlet. However, as you can see, there are two fine looking koalas on the roof!

I have no real idea about the origins of this particular koala sculpture, although from the back they are looking a little worse for wear. They seem to have been there for a considerable amount of time, overlooking the goings on of Adelaide Street. If anything, they probably hark back to the sleepier times of the 1960's or 70's but I have no real verification of that.

To me, the image of the koalas evokes an interesting response. The joey koala looks on somewhat startled at the goings on below him. The mother sits stoically positioned in the crux of the tree, knowing that she isn't going anywhere in a hurry. The framework of the tree holds them safely above, as a steady gum would in their natural environment.

Cheers, I Love Brisbane, Wes.

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Tuesday, January 2, 2007

"Chat" (or The Hands)

One of my favourite pieces of sculpture in Brisbane is a pair of hands which adorn the footpath at 175 Eagle Street. The sculpture is at the intersection of Queen Street, Wharf Street and Eagle Street on the Brisbane River side. After some research, I found that the sculpture was designed by Sebastian Di Mauro and was named "Chat" by the artist. The picture here shows the more upright of the two hands. The hands are cast aluminium and was put in place around 2003. Unfortunately, I couldn't find any type of plaque or identification for the piece near its location.

This is a fantastic piece of public art, not just for its aesthetic value, but because if you're a kid, you can go up to it, touch it, jump on it and look at your reflection in it. This was one work where it was easy to get my kids, Aidan and Ethan to pose on it!

Cheers, I Love Brisbane, Wes.

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Monday, January 1, 2007

The Story Bridge

I thought it appropriate to start a WeBlog about how I Love Brisbane with one of its most endearing Icons, the Story Bridge. Most mornings when I walk into work I park in a suburb of Brisbane known as New Farm. As I walk along the Brisbane River, I get the above fantastic view of the Story Bridge, with the city in the background. Opened in 1940, it provides one of the main links between the North and South sides of the city.

I love this walk to work. It takes about 1/2 an hour, and I have all sorts of nerdy habits I partake. There are all these kick ass spiders along the path that spin webs over the trees. We're talking near hand size for some of the big ones, but they just sit up in the trees catching whatever passes by. During the hot summer months there are lizards which come out and laze on the hot path. There is also a constant stream of people going back and forth, and I love to people watch. This isn't the only dominant picture of the Bridge you can get. If you walk further along the river on the city side and look back, the Bridge continues to dominate your view.

But it is the walk back from the city which at the moment provides some of the most spectacular views of the bridge and the city. Each night, you get to watch the sun set behind the city as the lights come up and start twinkling both on the bridge and with the building towers. The river offsets this with great reflections.

I love living in this city. It has so much to offer, and its grown from being the big country town when we first moved here seven years ago. There are beaches both north and south, there's a ring of rainforests to the west, and everywhere there are outdoor activities you can undertake. The weather is fantastic year round, bar a few hot and humid weeks. These are easily countered with a pool and air conditioning! The people are friendly, and now there's pretty much everything you could want. So if you come to Australia, or if you live here already, get yourself to Brisbane!

Cheers, I Love Brisbane, Wes.

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