Brisbane – a city of Cultural Diversity, Natural Disasters and Hidden Delights

PatienceI’ve been living in Brisbane for over 7 years now but only recently did I realise that it’s actually not that bad, and could be Australia’s most underrated city – a river town with an extravagant art scene, energetic night life and a fabulous range of restaurants, markets and shopping centres.

Young trendies call the place “Brisvegas” because of the constant events that are held here, ranging across pop concerts, community festivals, cultural celebrations and many other events suitable for the whole family. One of Brisbane’s most admirable traits is its amazing diversity with recent surveys estimating that 40 per cent of its resident are overseas born.

In contrast, Brisbane is a city with the most peculiar weather conditions. Promoted as being always sunny, perfect even, yet, when it does rain, it’s almost like the population is being punished for being so cocky.

Over recent years, and even in recent weeks, weather conditions have caused widespread flooding, property damage, and downright good old fashioned disruptions to our usual easy going way of life. But we mop up and clean up and look to the heavens waiting for the sunny days to return.

Amongst the African communities, many members of which have settled here as refugee migrants, Brisbane is a pumping city when it comes to entertainment, especially during refugee week in June.

The Multicultural Development Association (MDA) is an organisation that plays a role in educating and catering for migrant families which come to live in Brisbane. It is committed to deliver a welcoming reception, providing newcomers the opportunity to participate in a true multicultural society.

One of the ways it achieves this is by hosting the annual World Refugee Day Festival which I’m fortunate to participate in as an MC. The festival aims to welcome refugees to the country, and many citizenship ceremonies are arranged on the day. Last year over 15,000 people come together to participate  in the festival sharing their experiences through music, song, costume, dance, visual arts and craft exhibitions. Of course, no festival is complete without samples of delicious foods from around the world, to fill stomachs and allow local residents an opportunity to have a ‘taste’ of the cultural gifts the new arrivals bring with them.
I hope I’ve left an impression that Brisbane is more than just “the quiet, boring city” that outsiders may make it out to be (and I thought it was). With its weather extremes, the undercurrent of cultural diversity, the commitment to multiculturalism and the continuous roll-out of community events and activities – I guess you could say, there’s no time left to be bored!

PHOTO: Chris Lofqvist

Congolese-born Patience is an MC, youth advocate and journalism student who loves to share her experiences through writing.

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