Sole Sister

Cruising in the single lane


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Round and round the Gardens

One of Brisbane city’s most charming quarters is the lower George – Alice Street precinct…. Parliament House, the Queensland Club, QUT with old Government House in the grounds, the cooling, lush expanse of the Botanic Gardens a welcome backdrop.  The Gardens offer visitors pleasures apart from rare and native botanical specimens including riverside walks, cycle paths, coffee venues, fountains, playgrounds, outdoor event venues, open-air art works, precious shade in summer.

IMG_4452-edRiparian pleasures. 

The Gardens played a pivotal role in the early days of Brisbane and Queensland’s settlement, as a source of fresh vegetables for the convicts and as a laboratory for identifying plants that would be suitable for the new colony. The first jacarandas were grown there.

My earliest memory of the Gardens is of its zoo, the giant monkey and bird cages, long since gone, a vague shadow in my consciousness. In more recent times I worked at QUT and became a regular lunchtime visitor, either to enjoy a meal with friends at the charming City Gardens Café, or to stroll through the mangroves on the riverside boardwalk.

IMG_4468-edMangrove mud has its own charm.

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A great place to sit and relax.

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Spotted gum. 

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Happy birthday in the Gardens. 

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Art imitating botanical life.  

The heritage- listed café, originally the curator’s residence, has been taken over by the charitable Wise Foundation and is being refurbished as a function centre and café with 100 percent of profits going to charity.  Sadly, last year the riverside boardwalk went the way of the zoo, quietly demolished by the Brisbane City Council which claimed the $1.8 million price tag for repairs to flood and storm damage was too great. Such a pity from educational, environmental and recreational points of view.


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Lunch time

One of my favourite Queensland Week promotions is Lunch On Q which sees some of Brisbane’s best restaurants offer a set-price two-course lunch – $35 per person – featuring the best Queensland produce accompanied by a glass of Queensland wine.

IMG_1755Amuse bouche

The variety of menus advertised presents the  perfect opportunity to stop and think about the richness, quality and variety of our state’s yield – harvests from the sea, pastures, orchards and vineyards. There are old staples like sugar, tropical fruits, prawns, reef fish, beef and lamb and more recent arrivals such as the wines of the Granite Belt, South Burnett and Gold Coast hinterland. It’s also a reminder of the provenance of  world renowned delights such as the macadamia nut – once commonly known as the Queensland nut – and that Brisbane-based beef producer the Australian Agricultural Company (AACo), established in 1824, is the oldest continuously operating company in Australia.

IMG_1757Mooloolaba albacore tuna 

Our party chose to lunch at the Matt Moran Riverside restaurant Aria because of its culinary reputation, the chance to cruise there on the CityCat and the opportunity to savour a meal while taking in views of the Kangaroo Point cliffs, the Story Bridge and the hustle and bustle of the Brisbane River’s City reach.

Aria’s Lunch On Q offering comprised an entree of tartare of Mooloolaba albacore tuna with green shiso, radish and sunflower seeds in a tangy dressing, followed by rich and mouth-wateringly tender AACo slow cooked beef cheeks with smoked bacon, onion and maple puree.  Adding to the gastronomic pleasure was a choice of 2013 Granite Belt Ravens Croft verdhelo or 2012 Ravens Croft cabernet sauvignon. As a table of salad lovers we added bowls of  rocket, fig and fennel and cos lettuce with a parmesan, egg and anchovy dressing.

IMG_1759-edRich and mouth-wateringly tender – slow cooked beef cheeks with smoked bacon.

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Eating our greens…and figs. 

Included in the offering were starters of  fresh, warm crusty sourdough bread and a small amuse bouche of pickled Queensland pineapple, fresh prawn crackers and crusted roast macadamias. And to finish a selection of crisp almond bread, chocolate truffles and toasted coconut-coated marshmallows. It’s so tempting to try other participants before the promotion closes on 15th June…