WALKING TO WOOLLOONGABBA

So Brisbane is full of different suburbs, most with unique characters and personalities. This isn’t anything new- a lot of cities around the world have areas known for different attributes (the dodgy one, the posh one, the trendy one, etc). Wooloongabba is an oddly shaped suburb that stretches down Ipswich Road from the stadium to the PA Hospital. In the early days of Brisbane, Woolloongabba was one of the largest shopping districts on the south side of the river- before the bridge. The CBD, Woolloongabba and Fortitude Valley each competed for retail dollars. You can still see the historical old shops in the Gabba stretching from the Mater Hospital to about the Chalk Hotel. There are some lovely little shops in there and, despite the traffic, is a nice little walk. Look up often for some lovely old iron lacework on the tops of verandahs and coloured glass.

When thinking of the Gabba, most people think of THE Gabba: the huge AFL and cricket sports stadium on Ipswich Road. It takes up most of the block and is notorious for appalling parking but good public transport. Many people haven’t thought much about the Gabba beyond that for many years, but recent (ok, fairly recent) gentrification of some areas has led to some amazing café and restaurants popping up. Many of the best are on Stanley Street or Logan Road. Not the big, bustling part of Logan Road, the odd, mostly parking park of Logan Road that can only be access from behind- no access from Ipswich or Stanley. Beautiful cafes that Brisbane is proud of, such as Canvas and Pearl, sit alongside restaurants that have reputations as excellent as the décor and building that house them. In time, I will review each and everyone one of them (Gosh Darn it).

My sister showed me some amazing other finds which are worth checking out if you’re in the Gabba/East Brisbane area. Wellington Street (technically East Brisbane) had some amazing vintage shops and the Brews Brothers– a microbrewery with brewing space for rent. I’ll have to get Ben onto that one. Heading over to Balaclava Street (or as my sister called it, Baklava Street, which is far less thuggish and more delicious), we found some amazing houses of noms, from All India Foods, where I bought 200g of cumin for $2.50 (!) and could find all the raw and pre-made tools and ingredients for all the Indian food you get in India but just can’t find on a Brisbane menu (why do so few places do Vada and Idli? I ask you!). Down the road was Banneton, a French bakery that has the most mouth-watering pastries and breads, and we finished at Pennisi Cuisine, an international deli where my sister tells me Mondos Organics gets some of their stock and she even found tomatillos and canned chipotle peppers, both of which she got hooked on in Mexico last year. They had shelf food from all over the world, a huge spice rack, 10 litre tubs of olives in the deli section and a cheese cabinet “I just want to lie down in” (me too, sis. Me too).

Click to enlarge and scroll through.

Will I be back to the Gabba to further investigate this fairly undiscovered haven of culinary and domestic delight? You bet your arse.

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