A river runs through Brisbane and we all know not to cross it, writes Julie Thomson.
Despite Brisbane’s growing sophistication, the plethora of smart eating and drinking hangouts, increasingly mobile population and international flavour, travel and tastes, its residents are defined by the river and intensely local.
People here largely still think of themselves as either northsiders or southsiders and it’s where they stick, from birth to schooling, leisure, work, socialising, partnering, marrying and eventually buying and settling.
This split may date from when the town was South Brisbane and North Brisbane, and North Brisbane used to heavily tax South Brisbanites for crossing the river to bury their dead at Milton.
Rochelle Kerr, 21, of Windsor, is a dedicated northsider. She grew up in Caboolture when the city was a kind of Mecca for her and teenage pals on the weekend, but she never had any desire to go past South Bank.
A city event manager and hospitality worker, she only heads south side to go to the Gold Coast or Byron Bay and only has a handful of friends who live on the opposite side of the river.
“Come to think of it, I don’t know exactly which suburb, only that it’s south side,” she says.
Desley Bartlett is a proud dyed-in-the-wool southsider. She was born at Wynnum, went to Wynnum primary and high school and lived for some years interstate, before returning to live at Manly.
“I would never dream of living on the north side,” she says. “I have friends I visit there sometimes, but I think it just feels foreign on that side of town.”
It’s the same for Silvana Siliato of Wakerley. She grew up in Camp Hill, bought her first home in Carina, then to Carindale, Cannon Hill and now lives with her partner Rob at Wakerley, tucked between Belmont and Gumdale.
She works at Hendra, alas, and her workmates are all northerners, so she cops a lot of flak. They organise all their socialising at north side venues which they know like the back of their hand, but she finds a big challenge to find.
“They rattle off instructions like ‘turn left at that big roundabout on such and such main road, you know?’ and I’m like, ‘noooo…what roundabout?’”
Peter Bell, a bricklayer, of Manly West, has lived more than four decades south side and has never been tempted to live across the river. He has only one friend on the other side — at Geebung, where he goes reluctantly.
He loves the south side, particularly because of its easy access to Stradbroke Island.
Ross and Cathy Purdon are dedicated northsiders, living at the Gap and Ferny Hills for more than 45 years.
They say all the best people and restaurants are on their side, as is the city (“Fancy having to take that dreadful motorway to work!”) and it’s closest to the best beaches – the Sunshine Coast.
Do you think north or south is best? What would you cross the river for? Let us know in the comments below!