Many people see Brisbane, as a place less cultured, less wise, less significant, than other Australian cities. It seems to exist in the shadows of busy and event-filled Melbourne and Sydney. Sometimes, the Sunshine State’s capital city is even outshone by the beaches of the Sunshine and Gold Coasts and the events that take place there. It is not uncommon to hear people say that they have outgrown this little river city.
In his novel, Brisbane, Matthew Condon masterfully creates a tapestry of childhood memories and city history, capturing Brisbane with intimate familiarity and academic authority. Of Brisbane’s light, he writes, ‘if you are born into it, this palette of gentle pinks and oranges at dawn and dusk, the blast white of midday in summer, the lemon luminescence of mid-morning and mid-afternoon, you keep it with you, and measure all other light by it’. As someone who has grown up in this light, I fondly recognise the warmth and life that it offers.
As the world’s leaders arrive in Brisbane to attend the G20, it may be that Brisbane is offered an opportunity to be seen in a new light by its residents and the rest of the world.