don’t let the Olympics change Brisbane too much

ICYMI the Olympic and Paralympic Games come to Queensland. For the record, I’m excited. I’m here for the games and the coming-of-age potential they promise. I was barely alive when Brisbane’s last big moment happened. ESD 2032 will be my generation’s Expo 88.

There’s just one tiny little concern I have about all this stuff. It’s a concern that anyone in a long-term relationship can relate to. See I’ve loved and loved Brisbane for a while now and I rather hope it never really changes.

Growing up, maturing, developing, sure, but not change. Grow up, but don’t change, Brisbane. Take the Expo, for example: it helped create al fresco dining and South Bank and an affinity for polite public queuing, but much of what’s good about the city has stayed the same. Shiny new things came and some shiny new things went, but Brisbane was still Brisbane in 1989; still a little bit weird, still a little bit awkward and more than a little bit daggy in the very best of ways.

You know what I mean?

yes, no?

OK. How do I love Brisbane? let me count the ways

Related: As Brisbane prepares to host the Olympics, the survival of a heritage school is at stake

I love Brisbane to the depth, length and breadth of its meandering river. Thelma Plum has it perfect when she sings about a love bite from a brown snake. Not nearly as pretty, glittering and gorgeous as Sydney Harbour, Maiwar is beautiful in its own right. That is indeed the charm of this River City. It’s not obvious, you have to look for it. But it is there.

It’s how we say “thank you” to the bus driver when they get off. It’s there when we say “G’day” to passers-by on the street.

I’ve thrown a few G’days on the Coogee-to-Bondi Walk; I was almost escorted out of the area. I also tried Toorak and the only G’day I got back was my Echo.

Relatively casual friendliness and openness is something that sets the Queensland capital apart from others Down Under. But the bigger this city gets, the more this friendliness is in danger. We hope that when the games get here we’ll still be enthusiastic about giving G’days.

We hope we still dress and swear with enthusiasm too. I don’t know about you, but I love this city’s full blown, borderline garish use of color, both in fabrics and tongues.

Compared to the muted hues of Hobart, the million shades of shadow in Melbourne, or the sun-bleached surf foam of Sydney, Brisbane is all bright, blinding, roaring color, and it’s a volume I wouldn’t want to turn down.

Listen carefully and you can hear the vivid blues of the state’s wide horizons embedded in the way Queenslanders speak, when you can’t see it in the way they like to dress.


Yes, from time to time you might cringe at a riot of bold tones in the races or the absence of the letter G. But you’ll also marvel at the mastery of profane punctuation, the common sense that makes the word “you” real, and the way a lively pair of togs, worn with confidence, can really lift the spirits.

Let’s not mute Brisbane just because the games are just around the corner. Instead, let’s raise a pot (definitely not middy, ten, or handle) for this River City and the Sunshine State.

Allow me to set the countdown clock, willfully ignore Daylight Saving Time and begin preparing for the Games with real sun and Queensland fervor.

Time will pass, changes will creep in, but, ‘ken Oath Brisbane, let’s not forget the humble joy of staying grounded.

• Katherine Feeney is a journalist and presenter and hosts Afternoons on ABC Radio Brisbane.

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