Horizon at Sandy Point

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Southbank in Brisbane

The Southbank in Brisbane is a two kilometre run from the Gallery of Modern Art to the Kangaroo Cliffs. We entered at Victoria Bridge and went past the Performing Arts centre. An arbor of bougainvillea trained on steel girders led us - like the yellow brick road - along a man-made beach and play pools, through the main piazza with eateries and souvenir shops, past the Maritime museum and the Memorial to soldiers fallen in WWI and WWII, to the Kangaroo Cliffs.
Follow the arbor along Southbank for 1.2 km

Girders assume organic shapes under vining bougainvillea

The Southbank pathway

Paths diverged and returned to the bougainvillea walkway through rainforest, a formal garden with a statue of Confucius, a peace pavilion - handcarved by Nepalese artists for the 1988 Brisbane expo and acquired by the Queensland government to be kept as a meditation centre - and places to sit and watch the river. One has the impression that people who live in this city enjoy being outdoors and active. We were frequently passed by cyclists and joggers and bands of school kids prodded by their coaches in gym training. It is summer in the south but schools are still in session.
Nepalese Peace Pavilion

Play dates for young mothers at the water park and man-made beach

At Kangaroo Cliff, the vertical rock walls - just about 25 metres high - challenge mountain climbers. We watched one young man reach three metres from the top on several attempts before dropping back to the ground.

Anchor at the Marine Museum

Propeller at the Marine Museum

The river itself is a lively scene, with inlets serving as marinas for yachts, and water taxis crossing under the spans of highway bridges.
See if you can spot the climber at Kangaroo Cliff

Looking at the climbers at Kangaroo Cliff

"Pelicans" mounted on an old structure

There's public art everywhere too - giant olympic pieces, two bio-mechanical pelicans, bits and pieces in odd corners. The Queensland Museum features impressive natural history exhibits on sea turtles, and native birds and butterflies. The history of the area tells of the Torres Straits islanders who settled in areas of Queensland. And of course, there's information about shark sightings on the Great Barrier Reef which parallels most of the Queensland coast.

Last stop on our Southbank tour is the Museum of Modern Art where Yayoi Kusama, the Japanese artist who has painted polka dots on tree trunks. Kusama's exhibit in Queensland includes installations in several rooms. A videotape of the artist reciting (in Japanese with English subtitles) her song of the suicide is reflected in parallel mirrors. A more optimistic experience is the room of dots where visitors are invited to add new dots to remaining white space, mainly the ceiling now!
Yayoi Kusama's "white room" with dots applied by visitors

One very poignant piece in this museum is the photographic journal of a young Chinese-Australian artist memorialising his mother. He recounts a Chinese (in the diaspora) experience, and some universal truths about child-mother relationships.

Lots of places to sit along the south bank in Brisbane!

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