Categorized | Urban Trawl

Dullsville versus Vegas


OPINION: I’ve just returned from a week cruising the highways and byways of the busy Queensland capital.

Perth vs BrisbaneSome 20 years ago, Brisbane – until then the forgotten step-sister of Sydney – cast off the shackles of its Cinderella status. In what quickly became an annoying cliche, local hipsters facetiously dubbed their city ‘Bris Vegas’ in recognition of its newly energised condition.

Remote Perth is now at the point that bigger Brisbane was two decades ago, shedding its Dullsville tag but still constrained by a Conservative mindset.

Here’s a potted comparison of the two urban outposts …


Visionary stadium upgrades between 10 and 15 years ago delivered Brisbane the world’s best Rugby and League ground (Lang Park), and an AFL/cricket stadium (Gabba) that puts both Subiaco and the WACA to shame. Pull your finger out, Perth.


Way back when globetrotting Lisa Scaffidi was a TAA airline hostess, her blue-blooded lord mayoral prototype in Queensland, Sallyanne Atkinson, started calling Brisbane the ‘River City’.

‘Salaryanne’ as many Brisvegians now remember her was eventually booted from office but her one lasting legacy – the River City moniker and resulting appreciation of the serpentine Brisbane River – stuck.

That said, Brisbane’s brown waterway is crap compared to Perth’s majestic Swan.

One notable exception is the Citycat fast ferries that zigzag between the north and south banks of the river between Brisbane’s eastern and western suburbs from sunup to midnight.

They are loved by locals and tourists alike.

With Perth’s 29 puny councils lacking clout compared to single-council Brisbane, and the Barnett government lacking vision, it’s hard to see Perth gliding into the Citycat era anytime soon.


Mr Barnett seems hell-bent on defiling Perth’s waterfront by ripping up a grassy park, erecting 10 towers of dubious design, and gouging out a rectangular marina for the rich and semi-famous.

In comparison, Brisbane’s South Bank and its predecessor World Expo 88 cleaned up a derelict stretch of abandoned riverfront warehouses.

Modern buildings were cleverly placed at the back of the South Bank site, away from the river. They covered an ugly railway line years before a similarly laudable but costly project got underway in Perth’s Northbridge.

Unlike the rectangular marina planned for Perth’s pleasure-cruising millionaires, South Bank’s sprawling swimming lagoon caters for patrons of all ages and socio-economic backgrounds.


From Rockingham in the south to Yanchep in the north, Perth’s golden beaches beat Brisbane’s mudflats sands down.

Still, the Brisbanites do have plenty of sand to kick around when they day trip to the gold or sunshine coasts.


A big shout-out to Perth’s restaurateurs here with the WA capital sporting way more diversity and quality on the cafe front.

With the possible exception of West End in Brisbane’s once-rough inner-south, the chain outlets have taken over Brisbane’s latte strips. The default meal in Brisbane is a deep-fried one.

However, cafe and restaurant service in the Queensland capital is far superior to that in Perth. Queenslanders with their glitzy Gold Coast and cruisy Cairns have embraced the service game rather than suffered it.

Brisbane eateries strike the right balance between attentiveness (without being too clingy), friendliness and efficiency.

Unlike in Perth, it’s rare in Brisbane to see wait-staff plonk a butt-cheek on your table and make your dining experience all about them.


Brisbane Airport – and every other capital city airport from Hobart to Darwin – is better than Perth’s.

All things considered, though, Perth is the better of the two cities.

Contrary to urban myth, Perth is far from the most laid-back place on earth. But it is very scenic and you can still get a patch of white sandy beach to yourself.

Perth’s rate of improvement – driven by small business and artistic innovation rather than grandiose government schemes – is more impressive than that of Brisbane which, frankly, has been resting on its laurels in recent years.

With a good dose of local government reform, and a change of state Premier, there would be nothing stopping Perth.

As country crooner Mike Nesmith once yodelled …

“I love it here on the range.

“But I would love it more if it changed.”


2 Responses to “Dullsville versus Vegas”

  1. oikee says:

    No worries Chris, mate i was a wynnum Manly man,.
    We first moved to east Brisbane, Easts club, and then to Wynnum, and back to Cannon Hill, so Wally Lewis territory.
    We have a few things going on, like i said the Ekka is 2.5 billion development. The portside Wharf is huge, another 30 thousand residents in their over the next 18 years.
    I see you have your project on the river going ahead. that will keep Perth on its toes for the next 15 to 20 years.
    And it wont hold a candle to Southbank, i think you already know that Chris, cheers mate. No really, my sister and hubby loved Perth, raved about it. Fremantle and the wine area.
    Brissie rocks mate, you know that. We should be ganging up on Melbourne. cheers.
    Yeah, Melbourne sucks 😉


  2. oikee says:

    What about the Exibition centres. Brisbane rated constantly 3rd best in the world, service secong to none, well third to none. Goma, did yo just forget to mention our cultural bank, which could be doubled again within 5-10 years. West-end, what happened to New Farm, and Bulimba, and Paddington, and Portside Whalf, and Wynnum, And Redcliffe, and ,,,etc. You think every goes to West End? I lived in Brisbane all my life and have never been to west End, true story. I will have a look next time i am down in Brisbane, i live up here on a mountain 100 miles away, where we get 4 seasons, a perfect climate. Sorry, went to westend once, to repair someones kitchen floor that fell onto the ground. Thos queenslander floors rot you know. The Ekka, you forget to mention this development, or the portside withnthe cruise ships docking outside your front door. ???

    Your sure you visited. What about the six lane highways either way to the glitzy coast. Oh, and we just put in the Venus rising sculpture at Kangaroo point, where we have absailing rockclimbing and canoe and other adventures, all in the heart of the city. Slip your mind. You also forgot to mention our satilite city, bigger than Brisbane itself, just down the road, Springfeild. Yes, the devlopment has stopped. We just approved 3 new large scycrappers, and a new parrelell airport, which will double the size, but this city is not doing much, maybe a change of government might help, hold-on, we just done that, happy times.
    I am not knocking Perth, i think it is fantastic from what my family tell me, who have visited. But, when you have a ferry service that can take you from one cultural hub to the next at more than 8 stops and rising, i think Brisbane and culture are doing very well. Ask anyone of our 30 thousand overseas students every year what they think.
    ‘what happened to New Farm, and Bulimba, and Paddington, and Portside Whalf, and Wynnum, And Redcliffe …’

    Indeed. What happened to them? They’re all okay, and I’ve been there, done them, and witnessed all their developments since since oh, say, 1973. None of them is as good as they were 10 to 15 years ago during Brisbane’s renaissance (with exception of the wharf which wasn’t much then).

    Never been to West End, home of the mighty Southern Suburbs Magpies? Mate, you haven’t lived.



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