June 18, 2011
I AM in Queensland after Christmas to catch up with relatives and friends, and to do some digging for this report about Brisbane's lesser-known attractions. Only it is raining. And not just raining but pouring relentlessly.
We make the slow drive down to Brisbane from the (ironically named this January) Sunshine Coast in the teeming rain.
In the night, the downpour is so heavy the tin roof of the Queenslander in which we are staying sounds like it's being sprayed by bullets.
We all know what happens next. Shortly after we leave Brisbane, the flood crisis strikes with a vengeance. The houses of friends and family are inundated, possessions and memories washed away.
Back in Sydney, we watch the television transfixed as floodwaters creep high in streets where we used to live. Nobody we know is hurt, but plenty suffer.
The stylish 1889 Enoteca, opposite the Gabba, has been praised for its outstanding menu and wine list.
Months later, with reconstruction under way, friends in the Queensland travel industry have started ringing.
"Can you get something in the paper about how the Sunshine Coast hasn't been destroyed by flood or cyclone?" begs one friend.
"We need people coming back to Brisbane," laments another.
It is definitely time to consider another practical means of helping our Queensland kin: by visiting.
While many of its big-ticket attractions, including the Gallery of Modern Art and Southbank, are perpetually popular, Brisbane is quietly developing into a rich and multi-layered city.
Brookwater Golf Club, Brookwater:
This Greg Norman-designed club is one of Brisbane's true gems, secreted in dense bushland a 30-minute drive west of the CBD.
Despite its setting, this immaculately groomed championship course with glistening white bunkers and glassy greens is described by aficionados as the state's most spectacular course, comparable to Australia's best.
Open to the public, the course is said to be challenging even to professionals, so be prepared.
There's also a country club equipped with full-sized tennis courts and an expansive clubhouse with a quality restaurant called Magnolia.
Golfers will find it quite a change from Brisbane's older, more established links.