Sound Diplomacy on the Road: Brisbane

Often overlooked by travellers rushing to check the Sydney Opera, Uluru and the Great Barrier Reef off their must dos, Queensland’s capital city is a vibrant urban oasis where one can experience gorgeous landscapes, top notch art, amazing food and a lively cultural scene.

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Music is a central feature of the city’s diverse cultural offering.  From community street festivals to international superstar performances in large arenas and unique street musician programmes around town, the city lives and breathes music.

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Historically, it has produced some of Australia’s best known and successful bands including The Saints, The Go-Betweens, The Veronicas and Savage Garden.  Brisbane’s also the home of two of the strongest young voices of Aussie hip-hop right now - the fierce and talented Mallrat and Miss Blanks.

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The city prides itself on Fortitude Valley, Australia’s only dedicated entertainment precinct, where music is literally everywhere (including the street pavement). Covering an area of over 346 acres, it concentrates much of the live music offering and music business, including The Foundry - a music club, record store, rehearsal space and community, comprising of over 15 music businesses, which I had the chance to visit and chat to.

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Brisbane has more than 15 venues with dedicated live music programming and 23 music festivals happening all year round. My personal highlights include The Triffid - a-hangar-cum-stateoftheart-soundproof-club with lively beer garden; The Powerhouse - multi-arts venue in a repurposed power plant, home of the Wonderland and MELT festivals, the latter being the biggest celebration for the LGBTQ+ community in Queensland; and the fascinating Riverstage - a 9,500 capacity open air stage on the Brisbane river and right next to the lush City Botanic Gardens.

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To add to this, since 2010 Brisbane has been running City Sounds - Australia’s largest free live music program, presenting local and touring bands and artists in various central locations around town, on a weekly basis. It also runs Gathering - a dedicated showcase for aboriginal and Torres Strait artists happening weekly in the Queen Street Mall. 

Queensland is set to have Australia’s largest density of First Nations people over the next 10 years, so its capital city will surely incorporate more indigenous arts into its cultural programming.

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Brisbane has one of the friendliest and laid back cultures I’ve ever experienced. Maybe it’s the climate, or the people, or both. Either way, there are few places I could have wished work could send me to in late November and if you’re ever in that part of the world, make sure to pay it a visit.