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Things I will miss, Item the Second

Brisbane building


I might miss Brisbane’s facades and buildings. None of it is very old, and much of it is pretty plain, but if you look up as you walk around you’ll see all these facades from before 1920, often with lovely typography on their signs, often with gargoyles or decals, and ferns and grass growing from the cracks in the bricks.

Brisbane has always had a love/hate affair with Old Buildings, alternately knocking them down in the middle of the night and ordering the facades to be preserved. This has often led to facades standing in front of empty lots for years at a time while the developer secretly hoped the old bricks would just collapse and they could get on with the business of installing another Macdonalds and Starbucks. It’s particularly tragic on the south side of the river, where along the bank and near the back some old warehouses and pubs survive, but mostly they are erased.

It might be an artefact of this country having no depth to its history that causes it to let any traces wash away. More likely it’s because this country ascribes rabidly to the myths of the Outback, and the Drover and Shearer and Pioneer, and so only see a rural history made up of rusting stump-jump ploughs and grey-red shearing sheds with corrugated iron roofs.

So if you’re walking around Brisbane, particularly the central locations – look up.

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