I'm a freelance writer, blogger and animal wrangler living in Brisbane's western suburbs. Many of my stories offer great giveaways to readers - subscribe to hear about them first.
Tear open the shutters and throw up the sash
The many different faces of Brisbane will be on display at this year's Brisbane Open House, an annual event which sees the city throw open the doors to some of its oldest, finest and (in some cases) most notorious buildings.
Visitors will get a rare glimpse of the upstairs floor of the Windmill Tower - but be warned, the stairs are steep with short treads so no stilettos or thongs. Image courtesy Brisbane Open House.
The harsh visage of the Moreton Bay Penal Settlement will be laid bare, with visitors given a rare opportunity to explore the top floor of Spring Hill's Windmill Tower which, as the state's oldest convict-built structure, dates back to 1828.
Other glimpses of Brisbane's brutal past will be on show, including historic Boggo Road Gaolmand the Commissariat Store Museum, which houses exhibitions relating to the Moreton Bay and St Helena Island penal settlements.
Some of the objects on display include a cat-o'-nine tails, leg irons, a convict cap, convict made bricks, a straight-jacket, a cannonball and implements made by prisoners in their attempts to escape.
Brisbane's refined complexion will also be available to view, with tours of Old Government House, described as one of the country's most charming tropical residences. Also open will be the the salubrious centre of civic life in Brisbane, the heritage-listed City Hall, with its iconic Clock Tower and the freshly made-over Museum of Brisbane.
Step back in time at the Howard Smith Wharves under the Story Bridge to the bustling pre-1940 Port of Brisbane.
Other faces on display at Brisbane Open House 2013 over the October 12-13 weekend include the ecclesiastical (with no less than eight churches open), architectural (with both architectural practices plus the fruits of their labours available for viewing) and legal (with tours of the new Brisbane Supreme and District Court, officially named the Queen Elizabeth II Courts of Law).
Brisbane Open House is an event providing free access to these hidden treasures, but because of anticipated demand, access to 9 of the sites will be allocated by ballot, while a further 5 sites require bookings. Click here for further details.
That said, there are a total of 71 participating sites, so if your first choice isn't available, there's sure to be something else to take your fancy. Bear in mind, too, that you won't be able to see everything, even if you allow the whole weekend, so use the suggested itineraries as a starting point to compile a list of the places you're most curious about.
There are a range of fabulous engagement programs for people who really wish to make the most of this year's event - including an art in design exhibition, a photography competition and, in a real mix of old and new, Brisbane Open House's first Instagram competition!
Brisbane Open House is part of the Open House Worldwide family which promotes Open House as an annual cultural event raising awareness of the value of good design in cities across the world.