Living in Brisbane – the Drawbacks


Waterside apartments, Brisbane.

Brisbane | Mozzies | Termites | Humidity | Banter | Television

I don’t like to say it, especially since I’ve just been writing another article about how much I love living in Brisbane, but there are also downsides to Brisbane.

Let’s see, in the “I love Brisbane” article I painted a glowing picture of how early the sun rises in Queensland in the summer. This enables me to go to the beach very early. The trouble is, even in summer, the sun goes down before 7 p.m.

That’s awful if part of the attraction of moving to Australia is having leisurely barbies after work in warm, evening sunshine. Most other Australian states move their clocks forward in summer and enjoy lighter evenings. Not Brisbane – we just get early darkness.

I can’t mention twilight barbies without mozzies entering my thoughts. These critters love warm, still, humid nights – and days for that matter! Brisbane’s mozzies will bite you until you’re raw unless you wear repellent – something I don’t really like doing but I often have to out of necessity to enjoy the great outdoors.

Unfortunately, Queensland’s mozzies can infect you with Ross River virus – the mozzies in all of Australia’s big cities can infect you with this virus. Ross River virus causes a lot more distress than the usual mozzie bite. It’s a fairly nasty disease – about 5,000 Aussies catch it each year – leading to aches and flu-like symptoms lasting, on and off, for up to a year if you’re unlucky.

So mozzies are a “must avoid” and flies, of course, can be a pest too. And then there are the cockroaches – as big as mice and much, much uglier. You’re almost certain to have an encounter with a cockroach. To minimise such meetings, my best advice is to buy a newer style house in which all doors and windows seal well when closed and to make sure insect screens are in place when windows and doors are open.

And now the bug count carries on – to termites. According to experts, these pests will attack about one in three homes in Brisbane. Termites feed on wood and are capable of literally eating your house and turning it to dust. Most Queensland houses contain significant amounts of wood and hence are vulnerable to attack. Worse, your home insurance policy doesn’t cover you for the damage! Fortunately, it’s possible to have the soil around your house treated to prevent termite attack. We’ve had this done for our house on the basis that it’s better to be safe than sorry.

That’s enough of the six-legged pests. Now it’s time to talk about the two-legged variety – the Aussie bloke. Aussies definitely have a different sense of humour to Brits – a more confrontational humour whereby they will knock some aspect of you – like your accent – usually not very subtly. What you’re expected to do is give as good as you get – be a good bloke and knock them back. It’s a kind of verbal fencing. Some people enjoy it but it’s not my cup of tea. Not all Aussie blokes engage in this sort of banter, thankfully.

Have I mentioned the humidity yet? Try humidity so intense that although it’s warm overnight, wet clothes hanging outside on a rope won’t dry.

Unlike the UK, where you plan outdoor work for summer, here you aim to get it done outside the summer months. If you do try to do any outdoor work in summer – like fixing up fencing or gardening, you’ll find yourself damp with sweat within a few minutes of starting – so you tend not to bother.

I mentioned in my “positive” article that I like to get out really early in the summer to avoid the worst of the sun – believe me the sunlight and glare are very strong here in the summer and you do need good sunglasses.

The summer humidity can be very trying and what astonishes me is the number of schools that don’t have any air conditioning. The government is spending more money on this at the moment but it’s definitely a black mark against Brisbane schools that kids have to study and teachers have to teach in hot, sticky classrooms. Actually, the lack of air-conditioning is a black mark against many schools in all of Australia’s states – but Brisbane is the most humid of the big cities and so the kids feel it worst here.

Speaking of the weather, if you think you’ve seen a downpour in the UK, you’ll realise if you come to live here that you’ve just seen heavy rain. When there’s a downpour here, there’s really a downpour. In a summer storm the daytime sky goes black, the wind can blow you down and the rain is so intense it’s painful on the skin. You can’t see more than a few yards in front of you and streets can be flooded in a matter of minutes.

Storms in Brisbane usually hit late in the afternoon at the end of the hottest and stickiest of days. As such they can almost be a relief – not if you get a tree blown down onto your house though, or all of your power gets shorted by a lightning strike – and this happens quite frequently!

Anything else to add? Yes, the television is poor – I think this is common knowledge about Australia. If you’re trying to watch a movie it can feel like there’s as much advertising as movie.

So there you have some of Brisbane’s negatives. I could never really dislike Brisbane though – it’s much too laid back and friendly.

If you add up the positives and negatives at the end of any day here, you’ll find the positives have usually won handsomely. Brisbane is a great place to live.

Alan MacDonald


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