Living in Brisbane – An Immigrant’s Impressions

Brisbane South Bank

Brisbane: South Bank, Artificial Beach in Central Brisbane

I must admit, I love living in Brisbane.

I love Brisbane because of its parks, its blue skies and the laid back, friendly people who live here – affectionately known to both themselves and other Australians as “banana benders” or “cane toads”.

“Banana benders” came about because of the banana plantations in Queensland while, more recently, “cane toads” was coined because of the epidemic of these large, poisonous, amphibians from South America. (Brisbanites deal with these creatures in a variety of ways – smashing them with cricket bats or, more humanely, gathering them in plastic bags and freezing them painlessly to death. Rough you may say, but a pet dog can be dead within 15 to 30 minutes of eating a cane toad. )

Anyway, enough of the local colour for the moment, and back to the good things about living in Brisbane.

Brisbane is a clean, modern looking city that just makes me want to smile when I look at it – the perpetual blue skies help – everything looks better in the sunshine. The people here are truly friendly, helpful and happy. If you look at a typical high street in the UK, full of unsmiling, grim looking people and then look at similar situation in Brisbane, there is no comparison – the Brisbanites are much happier.

They have a lot to be happy about. The food on offer is fantastic. The influx of migrants from the Far East (or Asia as it’s known here) has made Brisbane a foodie’s paradise with an excellent array of foods available to eat instantly or to cook at home. On Sundays there are markets on the banks of the Brisbane River in the middle of the city with lots of stalls that I enjoy walking around.

The city is full of lovely parks. Many of them lay on free burners for you to barbecue food. In and around Glasgow facilities like this would instantly be vandalised. It’s refreshing to live in a place where people appreciate these facilities and don’t wreck them.

The beaches are clean and beautiful and, with a sub-tropical climate, are there for year-round enjoyment. The Gold Coast – with Sea World, Movie World, Dream World, and Wet & Wild – is only an hour away. Some people – not me, I dislike commuting – choose to live on the Gold Coast and commute into Brisbane to work.

Brisbane must also be one of the few cities anywhere to have a beach right in the middle of its city centre. South Bank is man-made, and sits beside the Brisbane River.

It can get crowded during the day but it’s a great spot and often has free entertainment for the kids. Very handy when you’ve got some shopping to do and, better still, no need to feel guilty about leaving older kids there on their own – the beach has lifeguards who are there from early ’til late every day.

The sub-tropical climate here is fantastic. Brisbane doesn’t have winter – just a dry, “cool” season. This season is certainly cooler than the steamy summer but the winter temperatures here are still higher than Scotland’s summer. Mind you, it has been said that summers in Scotland are as warm as everywhere else – it’s just that they’re a bit on the short side – a couple of days if you’re lucky.

As far as summer is concerned, some people complain that Brissie gets too hot and sticky but I don’t bother too much about this because:

a. I work in an air-conditioned office, drive an air-conditioned car (a must) and have air conditioning at home.

b. When the heat / humidity is worst (January – March) the sun rises very early. At weekends I’m on the beach by about 7 a.m. (it’s warm even this early) and I don’t have to worry about sunburn. By 10 a.m., I’m on my way to a nice air-conditioned shopping mall. Then back home for lunch and a shady seat on the veranda to enjoy a fruit juice and a read.

c. Back in the UK, there are a lot of days when you’re stuck inside because the weather is so bad. In Brisbane the weather is only “bad” in the summer owing to the sticky heat (and the late-afternoon downpours.) But even in this “bad” season, I can still get to the beach for some fantastic recreation and can go for early morning jogs in the sunshine through lovely parkland.

d. If you subtract the three months of sticky heat, the weather for the rest of the year is glorious.

e. I grow bananas and pineapples in my garden – I can still hardly believe this. I’m sure the novelty will wear off sometime, but it hasn’t yet.

If you don’t fancy life on the beach, there are plenty of good swimming pools – mainly outdoors and 50 m long, double the length of most of the pools in Scotland.

Another thing about Brisbane I love is that even in the depths of “winter” the sun comes up early – by 6.30 a.m. For me this is fantastic. In the Scottish winter, I used to get up in what seemed like the middle of the night, ate breakfast and then travelled to work in darkness. Here I rise early to bright daylight, have a jog (if I’m in the mood) and a leisurely breakfast then head to work in lovely sunshine – it really is sunny here almost every day in winter. The contrast with where I emigrated from is amazing.

After two years, I still sit out on my veranda and think how lucky I am to be here under Brisbane’s blue skies.

Alan MacDonald



  1. Eva says

    I love it and I would love to move there as well hope I will be as lucky as you are and move there as soon as possible this weather in UK is so depressing even for kids. Always rain and cold.

  2. Andrew says

    I am a born and bred Brissite (4th generation Australian)that loves Brissy. This is why I say “NO” to daylight saving. The humidity does not cool down until late during summer. Older people don’t get enough sleep as it is. Price of electricity is skyrocketing. Good for you that you have an air conditioned office that you can sit in all day. With pensoners getting very little money to live on, some of them resorting to eat pet food. Bottom line is they can’t afford to have air conditioning going all day long and most have trouble sleeping at night.
    Queensland has also the highest skin cancer rate in the world, not just Australia. Vote NO to daylight saving!

  3. Eliza says

    A note to Andrew above. Pensioners eating pet food is the dumbest thing I have ever heard! Not sure if you e seen the price of potatoes, dried pasta or bread but I think you’ll be surprised to realise it’s cheaper then pet food…. Maybe the ones eating in this manner enjoy the taste?

  4. says

    Hello Alan.

    It was refreshing to read such a lovely post about the goodness of Brisbane, but like Andrew says, there is a downside too.

    I am a rarety: Queensland born and bred. I live in Brisbane and up o n the Sunshine Coast. I travel a lot, but Brissie is where I choose to live.

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