Brisbane Airport BNE Issue 4 - page 36

BNE August/September 2014
Where do you live and what do you like most about your
I live in Toowong and have done for 20 years. It’s diverse and that comes
with diverse eating options. It’s close to the city but still has plenty of trees.
What’s the biggest change you’ve seen in Brisbane since your first
After January
ZigZag Street
were published in 1996?
I think Brisbane was already changing when those novels came out. It’s
more outward looking and more connected with the wider world, and the
chip has slipped far enough from its shoulder that new arrivals won’t realise
it ever had one.
Where do you always take visitors when they come to Brisbane?
I take them up and down the river on a CityCat, pointing out the sights,
old and new. Most days it’s a very pleasant ride and there’s lots to talk about
on the riverbanks.
What’s your hot tip for visitors?
Baristas with beards (see page 17 for more on beards) might have hipster
attitude but they’re serious about making great coffee. If you have small
children, take them to the playground in New Farm Park. With its
rambling fort suspended among enormous Moreton Bay figs, I’ve seen
nothing like it anywhere in the world.
Favourite place for coffee?
Brisbane, luckily, is overrun with great places for coffee – very different
from the situation in the ‘80s. I’m a regular at Merlo at Paddington, since
you get a free coffee when you refill your tin and they’ve never made
me a dud coffee. Frisky Goat in the city is consistently very good, while
the newly-arrived Foundry means that there is now excellent coffee at
Indooroopilly Shopping Centre.
Favourite meal out?
Little Taipei Foodcourt at Sunnybank for the brilliant dumplings at
Taiwanese Delights, Rouj at Rosalie for taking Lebanese food to a new
level, and some of the Ethiopian and Eritrean places on Beaudesert Road,
Moorooka (more about these on page 25) for great injera and stews and the
feeling that you’ve been transported to Africa for an hour or so.
Favourite pub?
The Scratch Bar at Milton, because I’m a willing passenger on the craft
beer bandwagon; that’s their core business and they do it well.
Best place to shop?
I’m still a fan of terrestrial bookshops and, in places such as Avid Reader at
West End, Riverbend at Bulimba, Mary Ryan at Milton and Black Cat at
Paddington, Brisbane has some great places to browse and get advice that
suits your tastes.
Who would you name Brisbane’s greatest writer, living or dead?
And who or what has had the most influence on Brisbane’s writing
Perhaps the writer it’s easiest to make a strong case for as the greatest is
David Malouf (assuming we’re prepared to set aside the fact that he hasn’t
lived here since the 1950s – he’s still very connected to the place). He’s
widely acclaimed here and internationally and still at his writing peak
at age 80. I think the greatest influence might actually be University of
Queensland Press, which has discovered a remarkable array of writing
talent over the years.
What’s your favourite journey in Brisbane?
Probably the CityCat between St Lucia and New Farm Park. It’s a very
pleasant way to travel, there’s a lot to look at and it’s also good to see locals
and visitors on board making the most of it.
In your book
Welcome to Normal
you tell a story about a trip to
Merlo for coffee. Is that a trip you do regularly?
I did go regularly to the Merlo torrefazzione in James Street (Fortitude
Valley) before they opened at Paddington, so I’m very familiar with that
trip. While the characters in the book are fictional, there’s something
about buying coffee that can make you very aware of your own
mortality, if you let it. You notice all of a sudden that the cool young
people are behind the counter and you’re one of the daggy older crowd
lining up with tins.
Why is Brisbane a good place to be a writer?
Brisbane became a good place to be a writer in the 1990s when the world
became more open to our stories and it became easier as a writer to be
based where you wanted to be. Government was positively involved for a
while and that helped. In New York, or even Sydney, you’re closer to the
industry but that can be very distracting. In places like those, it can be easy
to go to a lot of book launches and forget to do the writing.
What will you be doing at Brisbane Writers Festival?
One of the things I’ll be talking about will be my new novel
Analogue Men
That’ll happen at quite a few festivals, but this is the only one that takes
place within 2km of most of the action in the novel. It’s felt good writing a
Brisbane comedy again, this time with a 40-something central character.
What is your favourite short break outside Brisbane?
The Granite Belt. The combination of granite and wine works for me.
There are some really interesting wines being made there now and a
long weekend featuring some hiking and rock-scrambling in Girraween
National Park followed by wine tasting and a hot dinner by a blazing fire
on a chilly evening sounds close to perfect to me.
byNick Earls (RandomHouse) is out now. BrisbaneWriters
Festival is on 3-7 September 2014.
Nick Earls has just released his
14th novel,
Analogue Men
, and will
be a guest at Brisbane Writers
Festival in September
Award-winning author
My Brisbane
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