Prevue March-April 2018 - 112

Australia

Brisbane & Cairns offer groups a memorable multisensory experience
[ON LOCATION] VICKI ARKOFF

W

e listened as celebrity chef Matt Moran rhapsodized
about Australia's passionate food scene during a
cocktail party at his open-air River Bar & Kitchen,
overlooking Brisbane's Story Bridge. The bridge
happened to be custom-lit for the occasion: Tourism Australia's
Dreamtime 2017, a bi-annual signature incentive showcase event
held for the first time here in Australia's third largest city, and easily
one of its friendliest, most affordable, and most eager to host
meetings and incentives attendees.
Also enjoying the convivial spirit-and surprise fireworks
display-was the Lord Mayor of Brisbane, Graham Quirk. "Brisbane
is Australia's 'New World City' with an abundance of Australian
experiences," Quick said. "We hope this welcome event gives
delegates a taste of what we can offer."
Brisbane's location on Australia's central east coast makes
it a valuable international hub and convenient starting point for
excursions along the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast, the rolling
Scenic Rim, sand dunes, dugongs and friendly dolphins of Moreton
Island National Park, and the most accessible southern islands of
the Great Barrier Reef. "We are quite literally Australia's front door to
the rest of the world," says Juliet Alabaster, acting general manager
of the Brisbane Convention Bureau. And rightly so.

THE BRISBANE BOOM
We're told that Brisbane is experiencing a building boom, with new
developments in the city centre and South Bank district that will offer
a mix of hotels, markets, art exhibitions and live entertainment venues.
The city's first five-star property opens this month with the debut of

88 | prevuemeetings.com

the 344-room W Brisbane on the Brisbane River shore, providing
chic indoor-outdoor event space for up to 750 attendees. "It marks
the return of the W brand to Australia and is the most exciting newbuild in Brisbane in 20 years," says General Manager Hal Philp. The
new Howard Smith Wharves precinct will redefine the Brisbane
River area at Story Bridge this year as well, offering a new Art Series
hotel, craft brewery, restaurants and other event venues for up to
2,000 attendees. By 2022, more premium brands will be entering the
Brisbane marketplace, including a new Ritz-Carlton, Rosewood,
and a second Emporium at South Bank's $590 million Southpoint
development. To support the growth, an airport expansion and
international cruise port terminal are underway.

THE EXPERIENCE
We were tempted to climb the picturesque bridge for a bird'seye team building experience, but were instead treated to a VIP
tour of the impressive Gallery of Modern Art, an avant-garde
vegan lunch at Urbane Restaurant, and a panoramic networking
reception at Eleven Rooftop Bar with two of Brisbane's most
acclaimed residents: dancer Li Cunxin and World Welterweight
Champion boxer Jeff Horn. A beer tasting led by Newstead
Brewery co-owner Michael Conrad followed by a "Thanks for
Rocking Up" feast by Virgin Australia on the Victorian balcony of
the 140-year-old Regatta Hotel came next, though a sunset aerial
display by hundreds of "flying fox" mega-bats out for a nibble along
the serpentine Brisbane River stole the show.
About an hour outside of the city centre a wide range of group
excursions, including a Miramar Cruises riverboat ride to Lone


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