Queensland Ballet artistic director Li Cunxin moved to Brisbane four years ago, and already has his firm city favourites.
1. What sets Brisbane apart from other cities is… the people – Brisbanites are wonderfully hospitable, friendly and generous. The great weather also adds to the appeal, encouraging you to spend time on or by the river.
2. What I love most about Brisbane culture is… that, although it’s smaller and much more relaxed, it’s still quite metropolitan. To me, it’s the perfect balance: being relaxed, yet still bustling and energetic.
3. Brisbane’s greatest assets are… the sense of space – it’s never too crowded. And I love the river. The water adds beauty and tranquillity to the city.
4. When visitors arrive in the city, I treat them to… a CityCat river cruise, to get a real sense of the city. South Bank is a great spot to explore the cultural precinct and the restaurants along River Quay.
I also often take friends from out of town to the restaurants in Chinatown, in The Valley or in Sunnybank. Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary and GOMA are also must-sees.
5. The best breakfast in Brisbane is found at… the gunshop café in West End. Most of the dishes have a distinct twist to them, adding a little surprise to the traditional morning staples.
6. And for dinner, I love… either Urbane or Stokehouse Q. Stokehouse Q has unbeatable views of the river that make dining there an absolute joy, and Urbane has great ambience, an interesting multi-course menu for both meat-eaters and vegetarians, and an excellent wine list.
7. When I go shopping in Brisbane, I make a beeline for… Mitchell Ogilvie. It has long been a favourite of mine, ever since moving to Brisbane. They’ve dressed me, and some of our principal dancers, for many opening nights over the years.
8. When you’re packing for Brisbane, don’t forget… lots of summer clothes! Walking shoes, hats and sunnies – be prepared for fabulous sunny weather.
9. A highlight of the city is… watching the Brisbane International tennis tournament in Tennyson. It’s always such a well-run event.
It has a great, relaxed atmosphere but is still very much a world-class event, and there’s not a bad seat in the stands!
10. A secret only a local would know is… Sam’s Seafood, which has the best fresh oysters and prawns (and sometimes outstanding muddies).
I shop there almost fortnightly for my seafood. It’s a favourite destination to get ingredients for Sunday brunch with family and friends.