I did not have the most successful shopping tour of Brisbane when I visited last weekend.
First, I must clarify that I do not much like commercialism. I do not really like to spend much money. But I do love to support the Arts, and also the array of crafters that Australia is so good at producing. And also, yes, ok. I do like to shop. Especially when on holidays.
Since joining Twitter earlier this year, I have been blessed to meet (well, ok: e-meet) quite a few lovely crafty-types. Whether crafting at home for pleasure, or building little businesses to sell handmade wares, these people are inspiring. And lots of them seem to be in Brisbane.
It was my first visit to Queensland. Prior to last weekend the furthest north I had ever travelled was Kempsey, NSW. Lame, I know. Shall I digress, and tell you why?
Once upon a time, I was a little girl growing up in Hobart, Tasmania. My parents were both from Sydney. They went to Tasmania on their honeymoon and fell in love with the island state. They moved there just before I was born. In Hobart, the wealthier kids used to go to Queensland for their holidays, and come home boasting about the wonderful time they’d had at Movie World, or Wet’n’Wild, or the Gold Coast, with skyscraper-like hotels pressed right up against the beaches. I was quietly, politely, conceal-edly appalled. I didn’t like the idea of that sort of commercialism. I saw the pictures of the beaches and wondered who, in their right minds, would allow such buildings to be built right there. Theme parks puzzled me, particularly when people told me how long they had to queue, how much their parents had to pay. To me, that sort of expenditure wasn’t building anything lasting. (Of course, these kids and their parents could argue that they were building lasting memories.) To my mind, all the expense seemed frivolous. Yes. I was a very serious sort of kid. But I wasn’t serious out of any sense of wowserism. I just really, really loved the natural environment. And the cliched pictures of Queensland holidays told tales to my mind of destruction of habitat, and the creeping influence of American commercial-fictional culture. My parents tended to spend all their money on getting us to Sydney to visit the rellies, or on our education. Holidays for us were spent camping near Coles Bay on Tassie’s east coast, or in a hut near Cockle Creek south of Hobart, or walking in the National Parks that cover 1/3 of Tasmania’s land area. Low-budget, high-memory eco-family-time. I loved it then. I’m smug about it now. Sorry.
So, before I’m accused of Queensland-hating, let’s stop digressing and start talking about how I got to visit, finally! Enter one brother-in-law who lives in Brisbane and invited us to his wedding. Factor in the passage of time and the widening of experience and the death of the cliches in my mind relating to Queensland. Also remind self that September is, allegedly, a good time of year to visit ‘up north’. And you have one very excited Sally.
Another quick digression here: I am allergic to hot weather. I forgot to mention that as another key factor in my aversion to Queensland in my childhood. My ideal temperature is about 22 degrees C. When I was in primary school I thought 40 was a pretend temperature that was code for ‘really hot’. I did not think the temperature could possibly reach that high. Anything above 27 degrees starts to annoy me. 40 should be a latitude, not a temperature. I can tell I’m going to have therapy about this, or else do another extended weather-themed post sometime. Ok. I’ll shut up.
Excited Sally turned somewhat reserved when calculating the timing of this trip….with a 23-month-old. However, with my useful brand of optimism (that kind that just studiously focusses on anything else and ignores potential points of disaster), I strove on with the planning.
It’s no simple task to kit out a family of five for a semi-formal occasion. James was easy: suit, shirt that matched my dress. My son was happy with a pants-shirt-waistcoat set from a cheap shop. My girls were whisked off to a less-cheap shop and chose a polka-dot theme. They have now had their induction into the world of female fashion-pain. Their shoes hurt, apparently. (Brisbane events in the CBD require hiking for many blocks from the carpark to the venue. Not much fun for 5 and 7 year-old girls unused to patent-leather ballet-flats.) I chose my dress well, with the help of my sister-in-law. I know this, because it withstood the piggy-backing of my 11kg son for the same many blocks. Next time, yes, I will take a stroller. Thank you for reminding me.
Having sorted the outfits a week in advance, excited Sally turned all ludicrously-optimistic again. “I will have time for lots of shopping now!”, she said. “I will do my research before I go. I will just ‘nip’ in to the shops and it will be splendid. Not to mention terrific.”
Pffft! Forgot to research, Sally did. Or rather: did a bit of question-asking, and forgot to write things down. Relied on a Twitter favourites list that did not, when it came time to shop, divulge its secrets. Forgot to account for the fact that a city of roughly 2 million people would, of course, be all spread out and traffic-ish. Neglected to ask the Lord to withold the early onset of 30-degree days in Brisbane. Discounted the fact that the rellies, when all in one place for the first time in who-can-count-how-long, would of course plan to fill our days with events. Events other than shopping in craft-shops. And that my most excellent sister-in-law would also be hideously jet-lagged.
So it was that when my lovely parents-in-law offered to take the kids to the park so James and I could have a break…we trekked across Brisbane on a Sunday morning to find the Valley In.Cube8r closed. And we couldn’t hang around until 11am, when it did open. It was a sad state of affairs. So we took photos of me looking sad.
Yes, my one brief chance to shop landed me in the right place at the wrong time. I never made it to Nook either. Nor any of the other shops lovely people suggested. My chief encourager was Jess from Epheriell Designs. She was at a market in Ipswich on the day I was free. But I did wear my Epheriell earrings around Brisbane. They are now quite well-travelled. Brisbane-Launceston-Brisbane-Launceston. They must be homing earrings.
All of this is to say that I will have to visit Brisbane again. And I do realise that I haven’t even scratched the surface of all that Queensland has to offer. I know. But feel free to comment below if you want to make any more recommendations. I will make a list in pen-and-paper, as well as a digital copy, and I will back it up in triplicate. And one day I think I’ll leave the 11kg (albeit gorgeous) toddler, and the two beauteous girls behind with their grandparents, and I will drag my hapless husband around city and country and un-thwart myself.
P.S. The happy ending: on our way to the airport, we happened across the most wonderful little shop called Peppermint Stitches. I spend a delightful twenty minutes in there drooling over their yarn, fabric and haberdashy-joyfulness.