Brisbane, the River City, lies roughly halfway up Australia’s scorching East Coast. The city’s history meanders back to 1824 when it was first settled as a penal colony in a generous curve of the Brisbane River. Sheltered behind a belt of mangrove swamps, Brisbane is the only East Coast city without direct beach access.
Today the city’s British heritage persists in European-style architecture ensconced within the city’s ever-aspiring skyline. This urban hub of modernity was recently tipped (by consultants Jones Lang LaSalle), to be the world’s fastest growing city in terms of GDP through to 2020, owing to its increasing population (which swells by more than 100,000 every year) and local investment opportunities.
Behind the city’s sleek, contemporary exterior resides a laidback, easy-going community. Brisbane is a convivial hub that combines a thriving business culture with an effervescent café culture and vivid arts scene.
The city is prone to extreme weather events such as King tides, summer storms and the floods they bring. A strong sense of community has developed in response to these, and the city has adopted a range of adaptation measures to weather the barrage of climate-related events.
What is special or unique about your city?
As Brisbane grows, it still holds onto its history. The shining glass towers across its landscape contain many of the sandstone and stucco buildings established in the latter half of 19th century. The Grand
Government buildings of George Street and the heritage listed City Hall still play a vital role in todays
Brisbane. Another two of the city's finest buildings, the Treasury and Old Customs House, have taken on a new life as a Casino and Gallery Museum respectively. The Windmill on Wickham Terrace, built in 1828 by convicts to grind maize, is recognized as Brisbane's oldest surviving building.
Once you get settled in you are going to love the relaxed way of life. You can explore shopping and historic precincts, dine on Queensland seafood, soak in culture at a museum or art gallery, or stroll through South Bank. Also, less than half an hour from the centre of the city is Moreton Bay and its islands. Here you can enjoy a variety of water sports in a quiet beach side village environment. Additionally, the famous beaches and resorts of the Sunshine and Gold Coasts are just over one hour's drive away.
What are a newcomer's first impressions of your city?
The combination of Brisbane's colourful history, rich heritage and relaxed outdoor lifestyle is the envy of Australia! Whether you're after adrenaline pumping adventure, relaxing on sun-kissed beaches, trekking through ancient rainforest or snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef, there's an experience just waiting to become your treasured memory.
Are these impressions likely to change?
Not likely. The relaxed lifestyle and great climate is contagious and most people who visit never want to leave. Most expatriates who have been lucky to experience Brisbane report fond memories that will last a lifetime.
What is the local language?
Brisbane is very culturally diverse, but English is the official language of the city as well as the whole country. A basic knowledge of English is important. Some of the languages other than English that are spoken at home are: Cantonese, Italian, Vietnamese, Mandarin, Greek, Spanish, German, Tagalog (Filipino), Polish and Russian.
Please take note that many Australians use a number of colloquialisms. At first, English-speakers from other countries may have occasional difficulties understanding parts of everyday Australian-English speech.
The list below gives a few of the most common colloquialisms (Australian slang):
- Amber Fluid - beer. "Let's have a drop of the amber fluid."
- Bag of Fruit - nothing to do with edible fruit. This is Australian rhyming slang for a man's suit - "He was dressed to kill in his bag of fruit."
- Barbies - Barbecues
- Bickie - a biscuit or cookie
- Bludger - lazy person, layabout, somebody who always relies on other people to do things or lend him things
- Bottle Shop - a place for buying alcohol
- Chips - French fries or potato crisps. To "spit chips" means you are very angry
- Chook - chicken
- Chrissie - Christmas
- Cockroach - a person from New South Wales
- Cuppa - a cup of tea or a tea-break.
- Dill - it could mean the popular herb, but if being used to describe a person it means a simpleton or a fool
- Durry - tobacco, cigarette
- Fruit loop - fool
- Full - drunk
- Give it a burl - try it, have a go
- Grog - general name for alcohol. Someone who has drunk too much will say they "feel groggy"
- Hotel - often just a pub
- Joey - baby kangaroo
- Jumbuck - sheep
- Lolly - candy or boiled sweet. Lolly water is a soft drink. If used when describing how a person acted it means they lost their temper.
- Mozzie - mosquito
- Mystery bag - a sausage
- Off - when used to describe food it means the food is rotten.
- Oz - Australia!
- Pozzie - a position or spot. If you are going on a picnic you will have to "find a good pozzie to spread the blanket".
- Prawn - a popular decapod crustacean - a shrimp in America. A "prawn night" is a social function where prawns and beer are served. Also a weak or insignificant person.
- Ripper - great, fantastic - "it was a ripper party"
- Rubbish (verb) - to criticize
- Sanger - a sandwich. Also sango.
- Shout - an expression used when paying for something for another person. Used a lot with groups in pubs where each person takes a turn in buying a round of drinks - "your shout".
- Snag - a sausage
- Stirrer - not a wooden spoon but a troublemaker - "he is a stirrer." To stir is to provoke someone.
- Stoked - very pleased
- Tinnie - a can of beer
- Tomato Sauce - called ketchup in America.
- Tucker - food
- Witchetty Grub - a large, white grub that lives in the roots of certain types of gum trees. Greatly prized by Aborigines as good "tucker".
- Wuss - coward; nervous person or animal
- Yabby - freshwater crayfish
- Yakka - work (noun)
- Zack - sixpence (5 cents) - "it isn't worth a zack", "he hasn't got a zack"
How easily could I live in this city without knowing this language?
Not knowing English could make communicating with the locals difficult. However, after a while the common phrases will become second nature to you and communicating will get much easier. Also, there are many types of language classes available, including classes run by the government, community groups and private training organizations. And, the locals are very warm and friendly here and typically they jump at the chance to provide assistance.
What are good things to remember in order to avoid offending the other residents of this city?
To avoid offending the residents of Brisbane take note of the following:
- Being a very diverse city, try to be tolerant of other cultural beliefs
- Being punctual is of the utmost importance
- When eating, most people find loud chewing, burping, and talking with a full mouth rude
- Holding hands or hugging in public is common, but kissing is generally frowned upon
- Littering in this environmentally conscious society is not taken lightly
- Extending your middle finger at someone (otherwise known as "giving the finger" or "flipping off" someone) is considered very rude and might get you into trouble
- When pointing in Australia make sure you do so with your entire hand, not with your index finger, this may cause offence
- Beware the "thumbs up" sign is the equivalent of "up yours"
- Winking at women is also considered offensive
- First names are used almost all the time even in business situations
- Personal space is important in the Australian culture, try to keep at arm’s length during conversation and don't break eye contact at any time
- Australian discussions or conversations may cover varying topics, be careful when talking religion or politics, it is often better not to bring these subjects up in conversation, until they are brought up by someone else. Express your views if they are informed, if not, don't.
- If you are in a pub, remember that each person in your group is expected to pay for a round of drinks. Not doing so may look bad
- Barbecues or "barbies" are a very popular form of home entertaining. Remember to dress casually and socialize
- Smoking is banned in all restaurants/cafes or establishments where food is served. Some establishments have a designated smoking area. It is also against the law to smoke near a playground.
How might the local weather affect my daily life?
Queensland lives up to its reputation as the 'Sunshine State' with an average of 11.5 hours of daily sunshine - 300 days a year. The warm and sunny climate attracts many visitors keen to escape colder winters. The climate lends itself to outdoor living. Many activities, both social and sporting, are conducted outdoors. Most houses have verandas or decks where families and friends congregate for informal entertaining.
Is there anything else I should know about the overall character of your city or its people?
Famous for its great weather, exciting events and cultural scene, Brisbane has a sophisticated, warm and friendly charm, which will more than surprise you.