Living in Brisbane is easy. Really easy – perhaps a little too easy.
My life right now is the most laid back and chilled out it ever has been. I feel lazy, but justifiably so – I spent the first 6 months of this year working my ass off in the hell and stress of corporate Sydney.
After cycling the 1000km from Sydney to Brisbane, I stayed in a hostel called Brisbane West End Backpackers for just one week. A great hostel, but that was enough for me and the older I get, the more I want to meet new people and have valuable experiences, yet don’t want to have to deal with the immaturities that come hand-in-hand with hostel life.
I took a bit of a gamble on moving into a ‘Gumtree share house’ after just 1 week in Brisbane, without a job or income stream but it ended up paying off. I have been living in this small chilled out house in the West End of Brisbane (right next to Aldi) and it’s just a short cycle ride to Southbank and the city and Fortitude Valley beyond.
I found getting a job in Brisbane a bit harder than I did in Sydney and Melbourne and I think my expectation for quick employment was a lot higher than it should have been. My sense of urgency seemed to far outweigh that of the employers and agencies that would offer me positions and interviews in 3 / 4 weeks time, when I needed a job on the same day of calling.
I worked 2 shifts in an American style steak restaurant in Bullimba. I was exhausted at this time and the shifts didn’t go well and I decided to take myself out of that environment because the role was just not right for me and the place was negative and overly-controlled by the owners.
I then worked a single barista shift at the Rio Tinto building in the middle of the CBD with an agency called Spotless, when I got a call from the guys at the Southbank Surf club who offered me a job in the new Restaurant in the epicentre of South Bank. I should remind people that working in hospitality in Australia is alot more fruitful than it is in the UK. You get paid nearly three times as much for a basic barmen / barista role and you also get shared tips on top of that which are not taxed or pilfered. Couple this with the return of your super fund and tax rebate it makes for high earnings from an easy, fun filled job with free coffee.
I have been working at Live Fire, the new South Bank restaurant for just over 2 months now and am having a great time. Being part of a brand new team, opening a new venue is a great thing because it has allowed me to influence the way it has been shaped, while we take everyones best ideas and bring them all together to create a cool atmosphere, but also a high standard of service. I’ve been working hospitality roles on and off for over a decade now and its really interesting to experience the environment from an ‘older’ workers perspective. A lot of the time I don’t feel any older than any of the kids that I work with, but the difference which ‘having experience’ makes in getting shit right is hugely evident in the bar and floor environments.
Needless-to-say, I and the other older barmen are getting practically all of the shifts and I like being able to switch off from critical thinking, working a job that requires very little from me, whilst getting paid for practicing different ways of simply being nice to people.
Working at Southbank is awesome – the whole place is beautiful and so well kept and although it is not a real beach – it certainly feels like it. Brings the best of the things I really like together in a neat culmination.
- Clean, new infrastructure that is well kept and tended too
- Beach feel with beach weather but not too much sand getting everywhere
- Laid back bikini vibe with people being happy to bask in the sun and be alive
- Beautiful gardens and intelligently designed lights and pretty optics at night.
Southbank stretches into the West End and then at the South end of West End is Aldi and my house just off Montague road. Very good area to be if you are setting up in the city. I am paying $175 rent per week with internet and electricity not much more. Fairly cheap in comparison to Melbourne and Sydney.
The West End is like the cool, hip Brick Lane London stereotype, but with a more hippy vibe and a lot less ‘crazy’ pretentiousness – a very relaxed attitude. Boundary street is the main road where all the cool food shops and Cafe shops are.
I love the attitude toward community cohesion and shopping locally in Australia. In every corner of the country – food stalls, markets and promenades are alive with the energetic bustle of people interacting – vendors selling wares and people enjoying the experience of buying their necessities from the community. I love chatting to local traders who enjoy entertaining their regulars in harmonious transaction. Everyone plays their own little part in the ecosystem of the community in which the vendors work and the shoppers live. Another refreshing point about Australia is that cheaper prices aren’t just exclusive to the giant supermarket chains like they are in England. Local produce markets here are super popular and organic and ‘wholefoods’ is a huge deal to most people.
I for one, sadly cannot find the same level of social inclusion in England and in most cases, I find a nasty undertone that probably stems from years of imperial bigotry and a cut-throat class war that has all but dismantled the communities of the past and left a scorched earth for the future progress of socia-economic integration. Bitter, invisible lines of division are etched into the fabric of community culture in the UK which have roots in exclusionism and compartmentalised elitism. The kind of boxed-off thinking our Landed Gentry calved up centuries ago.
I’m from the UK’s lower middle class, and we still have our car-boot sales and local sunday markets, but I have never felt the sense of enjoyment and gratitude from these as I have done in Australia – if you take the fun, social vibe out of shopping and other community practices, then what you are left?
People that don’t want to have a fun or social vibe as a community.. Failure by Design? Culture in Decline?
What happens in my home town of Norwich is that everybody goes directly to the giant Tesco for everything. These mega conglomerates service each families every single need and nobody shops locally (and if they do – they go to Tesco local) and nobody communicates and talks to one another. We have in England become like fearful cattle all individually looking out for our own fenced-off plots of land. If we meet our immediate basic human and family needs by procuring our consumables from soulless, high-end processing plants like Tesco and Asda, then that will give us more time to spend defending our mid-terrace prison cells from our ‘perceived’ social fears and threats. ‘An Englishman’s home is his castle’ a phrase drilled into the zeitgeist of our nation that reinforces the separationist mindsets that keep us resentful of our neighbours perceived wealth.
Maybe the level of friendly community cohesion that you get in Australia can be found in England, but I for one have not experienced it. When I was young, my Grandparents recited stories of glory days where people looked out for one and other and streets were united with common goals like the ‘great’ wars. Now my grandma churns out racist stories about Pakis and Polish people taking all the jobs.. Perhaps I am simply blinded by that very apt saying ‘grass is always greener’ or from the negative aspects of my own local upbringing and cultural bias.
My lens on life, affected by my indoctrinations, in my time period, within my social class, within my ever changing and evolving environments, which constantly change my point of view – when looking back into my past… I think none of us suffer our past and local fools gladly.
Something positive that I do know is that putting yourself directly outside of your own comfort zone is the best way to learn and grow as a person. I love the feeling of rocking up to a new city and taking on its challenges like an adventurer from a wild west fairytale. You can work where you want, you can do what you want. You can have the best experiences with the types of people you want to interact with and you can respectfully brush aside people that are not enriching to your current aspirations and efforts.
I sometimes view life like a spiral staircase, sometimes you climb upwards, sometimes you slip back down. ‘Change’ is inevitable and you may go through different periods of lacking confidence or other frailties which keep you stationery. Sometimes you might land on a poisonous snake (out of the blue) which will send you back down a few stairs.
But where is the resolution in this model? What happens when we get to the top of the landing? Will we ever reach the top of the stairs?
Does the game end when we die or when we start to feel and accept the slowing down and dulling of life when age catches up with us?
The way I play it, I always have about 5 goals on my cards and if I am hitting these and then plotting bigger goals – I will always be climbing onwards and upwards, but also be content with the gratitude that I am aware that I am making very best of my life on a day by day basis and doing the things that I want to do and constantly pushing for the new levels that I want to realise and achieve.
Always striving to be mindful and grateful of the present moment.
I have just under 2 months left in Brisbane, my goals include diving the great barrier reef, diving the HMAS Brisbane, romantic pursuits, saving up enough money to be able to travel in Indonesia and getting set up in Auckland, New Zealand in the New year.
I’ll write more about Brisbane before I leave..