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Brisbane: Beautiful or Ugly?

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by Roy Chambers (subscribe)
Lover of all things interesting and new
Published March 18th 2015
Brisbane: beautiful or ugly?

In 2015 Brisbane was named the most beautiful city in Australia, while in 2014 it was being criticised as being an ugly city. So the question is, is Brisbane really a beautiful city?

Is Brisbane beautiful or ugly?
Is Brisbane beautiful or ugly?

Ugly Brisbane

Standing on the river bank at South Bank looking across at the city you do realise that Brisbane definitely has an ugly side. Instead of historic buildings all you see are elevated roads. Turning around you see the squat brutalist concrete designs of the Queensland Performing Arts Centre and the Queensland Art Gallery.

A nice city view dominated by ugly roads
A nice city view dominated by ugly roads

Yes, not only can Brisbane be ugly, but for decades under the Sir Joh Bjelke Petersen government there was almost a policy towards either the ugly or the banal, where quick development bucks were given priority over developing the city as a whole.

South Bank does present the most beautiful view
South Bank doesn't present the most beautiful view

One of the main aspects of Brisbane is that for most visitors the main view is not that thrilling. At the best you might say that Brisbane is a nice place with a good personality rather than a stunning beauty. Especially when you compare the sweeping majesty of Sydney's harbour.

Beautiful Brisbane

The thing is that for many years now Brisbane has been working hard to develop its beauty. South Bank of course was the great project that transformed Brisbane River's last remaining dock district into parklands that attract locals and tourists alike.

The cultural precinct has added to the original concrete blockhouse style buildings with more delicate designs such as those used for the State Library and GoMA.

Cultural Precinct at sunset
Cultural Precinct at sunset

While South Bank attracts the most visitors, both the view from South Bank and the view of South Bank are a little disappointing. To really see the beauty of the city you have to head to Kangaroo Point.

The view from Kangaroo Point
The view from Kangaroo Point

Not only is the view from Kangaroo Point amazing with a wow factor, if you cross the river there are the City Botanic Gardens, as well numerous historic buildings, most notably the old Customs House.

One of many historic buildings around Brisbane
One of many historic buildings around Brisbane

Brisbane City Council has also been relentless in its desire to beautify the city with lights on the iconic but rather ugly Story Bridge and light projections on numerous other buildings.

Brisbane River city lights
Brisbane River city lights


Arrive in Sydney and there is the harbour, arrive at the Gold Coast and of course there is the beach. But arrive in Brisbane, and you will see a formal normal city, dirty brown river and some South Bank that is nice but not amazing.

The brown waters of the Brisbane River
The brown waters of the Brisbane River

Yet head to the right location and you will find great beauty and wonderful views. But let's not dismiss the niceness aspect of Brisbane. It is easy to forget just how nice Brisbane is and how hard it is to find any place in Brisbane that is really ugly. Even the roads running along the river front form delicate and beautiful shapes that are a beauty in their own right.

The view of Brisbane from Roma Street Parklands
The view of Brisbane from Roma Street Parklands

It is no surprise that Brisbane won the competition for most beautiful city in Australia and it will only develop further.

Let us know what you think. Is Brisbane beautiful or ugly?
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Brisbane is beautiful. True too hot for a while and wonderful for the rest..
Love the jacarandas,poincianas, bougainvilleas, the river even if it is a bit muddy. The accessible beaches, lots of parks. Think the City mall needs to up market. Our cultural region and SouthBank very special . More ton bay, big cool and close. Love that we are about 1,000.000 compared with Sydney and Melbourne being millions more. Love it here.
by Kinch (score: 1|10) 1889 days ago
Like many of us, Brisbane looks better by the twinkling evening lights than she does in full stark sunlight. It's just too harsh. Plus, at night we can pretend the river isn't a poopy colour. I do love Brisbane and even on a 'road melting brightest sun from hell' kind of day I feel very happy whenever I drive into the city after being away. Love you Brisbaaaaaaaannnnneeeee...
by Kiesten McCauley (score: 2|537) 1893 days ago
I agree with the comment below regarding the South Brisbane river side. It looks ugly and has a dirty look.
The buildings need a makeover and in a hurry. This would turn our visitors off our city.
by dw-je (score: 0|4) 1889 days ago

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