ICYMI the Olympics and Paralympics are coming to Queensland. For the record, I’m excited. I’m here for the Games and the training potential they promise. I was barely alive when the last big moment for Brisbane happened. BNE 2032 will be the Expo 88 of my generation.
There is just one little, little, little concern I have for the whole shebang. It’s a concern that anyone in a long-term relationship can relate to. See, I’ve been loving and loving Brisbane for a while now and I rather hope it never really changes.
Grow, mature, develop, sure, but don’t change. Come of age, but don’t change, Brisbane. Take Expo, for example: it helped create alfresco dining and South Bank and an affinity with the polite audience in line, but much of what’s good in the city has stayed the same. Brilliant new things came and some new things went, but Brisbane was still Brisbane in 1989; still a little weird, still a little awkward and more than a little daggy in the best way.
You know what that means?
OK. How do I love Brisbane? Let me count the ways.
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I love Brisbane for the depth, length and breadth of its meandering river. Thelma Plum has it perfectly when she sings about a brown snake love bite. Not at all pretty, sparkling and beautiful like Sydney Harbor, Maiwar is beautiful, in her own way. Indeed, this is precisely the charm of this River City. It’s not obvious, you have to look for it. But what is there.
It’s there in the way we say “thank you” to bus drivers when they get off. It is there when we say “G’day” to people passing by on the street.
I have already launched some “G’days” on the walk from Coogee to Bondi; I was almost escorted from the area. I also tried it in Toorak and the only “G’day” I got was my echo.
Relatively casual friendliness and openness is something that sets the Queensland capital apart from the others down there. But the bigger this city gets, the more this friendliness is at risk. Hopefully when the Games come here, we’re still giving “G’days” with gusto.
Let’s hope we’re still dressing up and swearing with gusto too. I don’t know about you, but I love the flamboyant and gaudy use of color in this city, both in the fabric and in the language.
Compared to Hobart’s muted hues, Melbourne’s millions of shades or Sydney’s sun-bleached surf foam, Brisbane is all bright, blinding and roaring color and it’s a volume I don’t want to turn down.
Listen closely and you can hear the vivid blue of the wide horizons of the state incorporated into the way Queenslanders speak, if you can’t see it the way they like to dress.
Yes, from time to time you may find yourself wincing at a riot of bold tones at racing, or the lack of the letter G. But you’ll also come to marvel at the mastery of profane punctuation, the common sense the word “youse” really does, and the way a pair of bright togs, worn with confidence, can really improve the mood.
Let’s not change, Brisbane, just because the Games are almost here. Instead, let’s raise a pot (definitely not a middy, ten or a handle) at this River City and Sunshine State.
Let me set the countdown clock, purposely ignoring daylight saving time, and begin preparing for the Games with genuine sunshine and enthusiasm for Queensland.
Time will pass, change will creep in, but, ‘ken oath Brisbane, let’s not forget the humble joy of being down-to-earth.
• Katherine Feeney is a reporter and broadcaster who features Afternoons on ABC Radio Brisbane.