Brisbane (Mini) City Guide

by Lucy Feagins, Editor
Thursday 25th October 2012

Our AMAZING illustrated map of Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley highlights was created by Melbourne based Alice Oehr.  We nearly KILLED her with all the revisions, thankyou so much Alice!

As is our tradition every time we run a week of city-specific content, today we present to you TDF’s Brisbane (Mini) City Guide!

I say ‘Mini’ as a disclaimer really.  Clearly we’ve only scratched the surface of Brisbane’s highlights, focussing our attention mainly on the Fortitude Valley area, which presents the most condensed pocket of exellent retail (both for the home and fashion), plus plenty of fab eating and coffee spots.

If you have only one weekend here I’d recommend FIRST UP a trip to GOMA and QAG (Gallery of Modern Art and Queensland Art Gallery) which sit side by side in South Brisbane on the banks of the Brisbane River, and are both seriously knock-your-socks-off amazing.  On day two, a stroll along tree-lined James st in ‘The Valley’ is super lovely, extending to the galleries in New Farm and / or the fabulous Sourced Grocer in Teneriffe for lunch if your legs will take you!

In addition to highlighting a few of the shops and sights which stood out during my own visit to Brisbane a few months back, in editing this guide we’ve also enlisted the help of a couple of savvy locals – because you know, writing a city guide as an out-of-towner is fraught with danger!  We’re very grateful to Julian Hutton of The Meander Journal who recommended and contributed reviews on a handful of the businesses listed below.  Brisbane-born Megan Morton also sent us a bunch of inspired recommendations and introductions too!

Massive thanks to Brisbane-based photographer Toby Scott for his superb photos, and for squeezing so many shops into 1.5 days!  Also, to Melbourne illustrator Alice Oehr once again for her epic work on our fabulous city guide map, paying homage to the PINEAPPLE because you know, it’s the motif of the moment!  And lastly to TDF’s trusty editorial assistant Lisa Marie Corso for liasing with all the business-owners, and co-editing this guide with the utmost attention to detail.

We hope this little round-up proves helpful next time you’re in the sunny city!

1. Jardan

Jardan‘s  Brisbane showroom and retail store.  Photo – Shantanu Starick

It’s no secret I am a big fan of Australian furniture manufacturer Jardan.  If you find yourself in Brisbane it is well worth checking out their Brisbane showroom because this is their only retail store which is open to the public!  Alongside their ever growing range of GECA certified, Australian made furniture, you’ll also find a stunning collection of homewares, lighting, soft furnishings and accessories from various local and international designers.

1045 Ann Street
Fortitude Valley


The Limes Hotel, Fortitude Valley.  Photo supplied.

Ever since it first opened in 2008 I  have been dying to stay at Limes Hotel in Brisbane, designed by superstar Argentinian / Brisbane designer Alexander Lotersztain of Derlot.  The hotel is small (just 21 rooms) but perfectly proportioned and detailed – and the rooftop bar is stunning (though it does get very busy on the weekends!).

There is something very unique about this boutique hotel – it has a definite international flavour and doesn’t feel at all like any other hotel I’ve stayed in on home soil.  Designed with striking contemporary features which extend from the buildings facade right down to it’s stationery – Limes was the first Australian member of the prestigious Design Hotels Group.  Every detail is perfectly executed – I was particularly impressed that each room had its own coffee machine for proper morning coffee.  So simple, but these are the things which really set Limes apart from the usual hotel room experience!

Staying here basically makes you feel like someone who writes for Monocle Magazine. Which has GOT to be a good thing.

Limes Hotel
42 Constance Street
Fortitude Valley

3. Sourced Grocer

Sourced Grocer in Teneriffe.  Photo – Toby Scott

Sourced Grocer in Teneriffe.  Photos – Toby Scott

This warehouse-style space in Teneriffe sells seasonal organic fruit and veg, meat, cheeses, flowers and delicious artisan products. It feels like a curated collection of good, wholesome food. There’s a cafe too, so you can hang out and enjoy the people and the industrial-chic decor.  Julian

Sourced Grocer
11 Florence Street

4. The Rabbit Hole Ideation Cafe

The Rabbit Hole Ideation Cafe in Fortitude Valley.  Photo – Toby Scott

The Rabbit Hole Ideation Cafe in Fortitude Valley.  Photos – Toby Scott

The concept behind this cafe-workspace venue known to locals as The Rabbit Hole Ideation Cafe is great – provide a cool space with resources for people to work, meet and collaborate, with food and coffee close at hand. It’s perfect for creative folk. Previously on Vulture Street in West End, with desks, computers and a boardroom for hire, it’s now moved to a semi-industrial space in The Valley. Julian

The Rabbit Hole Ideation Cafe
22 Agnes Street
Fortitude Valley

5. Winn Lane (inc. Atavist Books, the outpost)

Winn Lane – Brisbane’s answer to laneway retail.  Photo – Toby Scott

Flamingo Cafe in Winn Lane.  Photo – Toby Scott

Atavist Books in Winn Lane.  Photo – Toby Scott

Atavist Books in Winn Lane.  Photo – Toby Scott

This Fortitude Valley laneway is home to a collection of small independent stores. Not only do the shops back local creative talent, they also collaborate to create events, which lends Winn Lane a really nice community feel. There’s a lovely bunch of people behind it, so it’s no surprise that it’s something special.

Atavist Books is one of Winn Lane’s main drawcards.  Visiting this tiny, cosy store feels like being inside the garden shed of an eccentric book lover. Tucked away at the very end of the Lane, it has loads of character – arty window displays, tall shelves full of quality pre-loved reads, plus artist books and independent publications.  A lovely little shrine to the written word. Julian

Winn Lane – incorporating Atavist Books, The Outpost, Flamingo Cafe and more
Winn Street
Fortitude Valley

The Outpost store at Winn Lane.  Photo – Toby Scott

6. Kova Lifestyle

Kova Lifestyle.  Photo – Toby Scott

Details at Kova Lifestyle.  Photo – Toby Scott

Kova Lifestyle is a good old fashioned homewares and gift store with an impressively varied range of home accessories, lighting, furniture and even fashion and footwear. For gifts, from tableware to candles to bath and body products and coffee tables books, Kova is the perfect one-stop shop.

Kova Lifestyle
23 James Street
Fortitude Valley

7. D.I.G Design Interior Garden

D.I.G Design Interior Garden .  Photo – Toby Scott

One thing you notice immediately as a Melbournian is Brisbane is the lush greenery everywhere (it’s like Sydney x 10) – it feels as if the whole city is just draped in glossy green foliage!  One of the prettiest shops on James St is D.I.G – Design Interior Garden, which has a courtyard full of gorgeous plants and garden accessories for all those green-thumbed locals.  You’ll also find a selection of homewares inside too.

D.I.G Design Interior Garden
1/49 James Street
Fortitude Valley

8. Easton Pearson

Easton Pearson store in James st, Fortitude Valley.  Photo supplied.

One of Brisbane’s most celebrated creative partnerships is that of Pamela Easton and Lydia Pearson, who launched their much respected fashion label, Easton Pearson in 1989.  Their James st store acts at Easton Pearson’s ‘flagship’ sorts – in fact, EP’s head office is only a hop, skip and a jump away from here, so you might even spot Pamela or Lydia in person if you’re lucky!

The store is a stunning contemporary space, the perfect backdrop for Easton Pearson’s vibrant and highly detailed collections.  The shop is laced with sweet eclectic details – such as antique cabinets filled with Pineapples!  Pineapples are a special motif for Easton Pearson – traditionally they are a symbol meaning ‘Welcome’.

Easton Pearson
60 James Street
Fortitude Valley

9. The Modern Furniture Store

Michael Josephson , co-owner of The Modern Furniture Store.  Photo – Toby Scott


The Modern Furniture Store  Photo – Toby Scott

I stumbled across The Modern Furniture Store quite by accident and I’m so glad I did!  This excellent furniture and interiors store just off the main drag of James st combines Scandinavian designed furniture with homewares, lighting and soft furnishings from   brands such as Muuto and Marimekko.  It’s VERY colourful in there!

Sydneysiders will be pleased to know The Modern Furniture Store owners Michael and Melissa Josephson will be opening a store in Manly in January!  Their extensive range is also available to purchase online.

The Modern Furniture Store
161a Arthur Street
Fortitude Valley

10. Chelsea De Luca

Chelsea De Luca.  Photo – Toby Scott

Chelsea De Luca.  Photo – Toby Scott

Chelsea De Luca is a self taught jewellery designer, who left a job in advertising in 2004 to pursue her dream of having her own accessories label.   By 2008 she had opened her first flagship store – an elegant boutique at the top of the hill on James St, New Farm.   This polished retail space is the perfect extension of Chelsea’s brand – the interior oozes old world glamour and decadence.  Chelsea De Luca’s art deco inspired jewels are handcrafted in Brisbane.

Chelsea De Luca
76 James Street
New Farm

11. Jan Murphy Gallery

Jan Murphy Gallery in Fortitude Valley. Current exhibition (pictured) – Made of Everything by Lara Merrett, until November 3rd 2012.  Photo – Toby Scott

Jan Murphy Gallery in Fortitude Valley. Current exhibition (pictured) – Made of Everything by Lara Merrett, until November 3rd 2012.  Photo – Toby Scott

Jan Murphy Gallery in Brunswick st, Fortitude Valley is one of the city’s most respected privately run galleries.  Now in its 17th year of operation, the gallery represents some of the Australia’s hottest contemporary artists – names such as Kirra Jamison, Rhys LeeAdam LesterBen Quilty and Victoria Reichelt to list just a few.

I am secretly rather excited that we caught Lara Merrett’s current show in these shots!  Oh LORD what I wouldn’t do for one of these exquisite paintings by Sydney-based Merrett who we interviewed back in March.

Jan Murphy Gallery
486 Brunswick Street
Fortitude Valley

12. Edwina Corlette Gallery

Edwina Corlette in her New Farm Gallery – Edwina Corlette Gallery.  Artwork by Miranda Skoczek.  Photo – Toby Scott

Edwina Corlette Gallery.  Artwork by Miranda Skoczek.  Photo – Toby Scott

Edwina Corlette Gallery is another of Brisbane’s dynamic commercial galleries, representing a diverse group of contemporary artists including Julian Meagher, Mark Whalen and Miranda Skoczek.  As will you know if you’re a regular TDF reader (!!) Miranda Skoczek’s current exhibition, Spirit Garden, is here until November 3rd 2012.

Edwina Corlette Gallery
555 Brunswick Street
New Farm

13. Black and Spiro

Black & Spiro.  Photo – Toby Scott.

Black & Spiro interior.  Photo – Toby Scott.

Detail at Black & Spiro.  I KNOW you are going to ask me what this wallpaper is.  I would very much like to know myself.  *UPDATE this wallpaper is ‘Round and Round the Garden’ from Anna Spiro’s own collaboration with Porters Paints!  Thanks to Tina L for this info! Photo – Toby Scott.

It would be fair to say that interior designer, retailer and blogger Anna Spiro has somewhat of a cult following in Brisbane.  Her blog, Absolutely Beautiful Things, has an incredibly loyal readership, having been around since 2006 (that’s 2 years longer than TDF!), whilst Anna’s store, Black & Spiro, has an army of local fans and supporters – as evidenced by the incredible turnout last month at the inaugural Black & Spiro Spring Flea Market!  AMAZING.  There is talk of another one at Christmas-time…

Hats off to Anna for building such an incredible following and juggling her design clients with her busy retail store and all manner of other projects and events!  Her supremely pretty New Farm store is a must-visit!

Black and Spiro
768 Brunswick Street
New Farm


View from GOMA looking towards the State Library.  Mainly, I got a bit obsessed with the FOLIAGE.  Photo – Lucy Feagins.

My most FAVOURITE artwork at GOMA, a mirror mosaic piece, around 12m long, entitled Lightning for Neda (2009) by Iranian artist Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian.  This one really did give me goosebumps.  Incredible.  Photo – Lucy Feagins.

GOMA is even MORE amazing than everyone who has ever raved about it has told you.  Just go there.  Queensland Art Gallery, which sits alongside GOMA on the banks of the Brisbane River, gets a lot less hype, yet is also seriously brilliant.  It’s the quiet achiever of the two.

Give yourself a day and visit both – the grounds connecting the buildings are so idyllic and again dripping with lush green foliage, whilst The GOMA Café Bistro is the perfect riverfront spot for lunch or a late afternoon vino.  (It will be open late on Friday nights this summer starting from November 16th).

Stanley Place
South Bank


We couldn’t possibly check out everything in person, but these additional businesses and resources come highly recommended too!

· The Good Guide 
· St Barts

· The Junk Bar
· Scotty’s Cafe
· The Survey Co.

by Lucy Feagins, Editor
Thursday 25th October 2012


  • Nic @ Yardage Design 4 years ago

    Brilliant timing for me as I am visiting Brisbane for the first time in two weeks ~ thanks so much, this is fab!

  • Tina Lavelle 4 years ago

    The wallpaper is from Anna Spiro’s own range for Porters Paints. It’s called “Round and Round the Garden” and I’ve been coveting it for months.

  • Jules Mackay 4 years ago

    Thanks for showcasing Brisbane…I’m inspired!

  • Mel McEvoy 4 years ago

    Thank you for a fab city guide. I live in Brisvegas – and the guide has inspired me to get out exploring. I had no idea Winn Lane existed. Mwah, Design Files!

  • Eliesha 4 years ago

    Who knew that there was so much cool stuff in Brisvegas? Maybe a trip to the northside rellies is in order…

  • Emily 4 years ago

    Love the illustration by Alice Oehr, I feel she is on the path to great thigns!!

  • Kath Wilson 4 years ago

    Wow. What developments. A far cry from the Brisbane I lived in 12 years ago.

  • jas 4 years ago

    Wow, so many cool stores and places to go. I have been to Brisbane in some time now, in fact I was only there for a month when I turned 18, so it holds fond memories. One of these days I’ll return and scout around a little more! Great features this week Lucy.

  • Lani 4 years ago

    There’s so much happening in Brisbane it is quite exciting! Roof top honey bees, great fashion hubs like James Street and suburban coffee spots like Uncle Joe’s and Dramanti showing just how much of a craft coffee is. Let’s not mention the fantastic cocktail makers here! Proud to wave the Brisbane flag.

  • Kate 4 years ago

    Thankyou so much for doing such a brilliant feature on our beautiful city! I feel very lucky to live in Brisbane. Out of interest, would Alice be prepared to sell prints of her map of Brisbane – I would love to get one. It would look so cool framed :)
    Keep up the great work TDF Team ..

  • little bird big chip 4 years ago

    well im pretty sure i know where my next mini-break is going to be….awesome stuff!! are you sure you don’t work for tourism qld????

  • Nicola 4 years ago

    Pretty Pretty Please Please Please do a guide for Adelaide too!!! im moving from Melbs in January and dont know of any good places!!

  • mekalie 4 years ago

    Lovely list of must – do’s for this area of Brisbane …
    As a Brisbanite myself you have managed to list most (if not all) of the suggestions I would also send to anyone visiting or needing inspiration from the area.
    (I am also hoping that the pineapple’s become a permanent icon for us here in sunny Brisbane!)

  • Diana 4 years ago

    These are my favourite articles by TDF! I love checking out a new town and the local artists and cafes that give it character! Looking forward to my next visit to Brisbane to check out some new places! Thanks for this one!

  • Lindy Kulpa 4 years ago

    Looking for an Italian meal in Fortitude Valley. Can highly recommend Bucci on James Street.

  • Margie 4 years ago

    Aw Lucy and the gang, you’ve made me homesick! I left in 1995, and all this cool stuff was happening, but only on the periphery and underground… So so so great that Brisneyland has embraced its creatives and supported them to help grow this vibrancy. Love.
    PS Last time I visited home, a good local friend told me about THE BEST cocktail bar at The Bowery (in the Valls of course)

  • Kate 4 years ago

    Who knew Brisvegas was so cool?! I need to go back.

    K :)

  • Anna Spiro 4 years ago

    Thank you Lucy for including Black & Spiro in your amazing round-up of Brisbane. We really are coming of age and it’s so great that you are promoting our wonderful city and it’s creative inhabitants! Cheers to you and your amazing blog!!


  • Lizzie 4 years ago

    Loved reading this blog post and hope to visit the awesome city of Brisbane one day . Seems like a long way away ……from Perth . Ps lots of cool things happening here too, if you ever want to do a feature on this city . You’d be welcome anytime .

  • sarah 4 years ago

    I am now officially homesick – thank you for showcasing beautiful brisvegas but a trip there would not be complete for me without picking something up @ Ari Jewellery in Brunswick St x

  • Mara 4 years ago

    Thank you for the Brisbane mini guide. It looks like there are some great new places to check out on my next visit home. I agree with Sarah, you simply must visit Ari (just a few doors up from Black and Spiro) for unique and contemporary jewellery. Be warned though, you’ll have trouble choosing which piece you like the most.

  • Mummageorge 4 years ago

    Oooh that mirror mosaic is amazing…gives me ideas!

  • Fox and Beau 4 years ago

    Oh Brisbane, how we love THE! Black & Spiro, an ALL time F&B

  • Spots and Stripes 4 years ago

    Great round up of our retail hot spots TDF! If you also want to check out some Queensland architecture, visit a suburb called Bulimba and check out the original Queenslanders. Then take a walk down Oxford Street for a coffee or a vino at The Jetty (next to the Bulimba Ferry stop).

  • Rhonda 4 years ago

    I so enjoyed the wonderful design and art. I left Brisbane earlier this year after living there for 15 years and moved back to country N.S.W. On viewing the fabulous pictures I realize how much I am missing the culture and vib of such a beautiful city. I miss my trips to Goma the Qld Art Gallery and wandering around the cafes, galleries and interesting shops in the valley area………Go Brisbane

  • Robina 4 years ago

    I love reading TDF. Since relocating from Melbourne via Sydney to Brisbane it so great to see how this city is taking shape you have really highlighted all my favorite destinations in the Valley. Jardan being no.1. Next visit check out Paddington Olive Home & Olive Woman retail is divine and Cross Town in Woolloongabba is a very buzzie & yummy eating spot. Best, Robina.

  • Renae Smith 4 years ago

    Cocktails on the roof top of Limes in the summer is divine. When I lived there they also used to convert the back of their rooftop area into an open air cinema, movies under the stars or watching a storm roll in over Brisbane was pretty amazing. Pearl Cafe in Woolloongabba is also a favourite, they do a pretty impressive breakfast and are situated around antique shops and great other restaurants. Winn Lane also used to be home to the Little Jane Street shop by Alarna Zinn which has since closed but it’s great to see that the Flamingo Cafe is still going strong, they make the most delicious fat sausage rolls! Thanks for visiting Lucy, there are so many great things about Brisbane, it’s great to see some of my favourite places profiled as well as some new. Can’t wait to our visit next home. :)

  • Leanne Stamatellos 4 years ago

    So glad you shared all of these fabulous places in Brisbane and the valley. They are definitely big favourites of mine!

  • Rosalind 4 years ago

    Yep, feeling a bit home sick for Brisvegas!

  • Adrian 4 years ago

    We stayed at Limes on the weekend, and whilst lovely, the roof top bar is more a nightclub on the weekends making sleeping almost impossible until 3am. Lovely place, and during the week it was quiet, but I would not recommend staying there on a weekend.

  • Tian 11 months ago

    I appreciated this guide. But gotta say, I visited most of the places recommended and they were a bit bla. I guess it’s a bit difficult coming from Melbourne where lots have already been explored. For me, the best is Winn Lane and now its “sister lane”, Bakery Lane & Jan Murphy Gallery. DIG is quite a pleasant set up.

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