It’s easy to forget that Brisbane can be beautiful. Hit the streets of the city and you’ll see the legacy of the seventies and eighties architecture, serviceable high-rises built out of grey concrete that wiped out large chunks of our history. It’s a very functional aesthetic, unconcerned with outwards appearances.

History, for Brisbane, is something that happens in the suburbs, where you can still find old homes with wide decks and corrugated iron rooftops, or workers cottages that sit in the heart of giant yards.

Or it’s a thing that grows in cracks, like a weed someone forget to refurbish, renovate, or renew when the concrete washed over everything. The facades of old buildings left in place, or actual old buildings that have survived by being stubborn.

Brisbane doesn’t give up its history easily, unless you know what to look for. And if you know what to look for, the history gets pretty ugly.

But still, for all that, the city has these moments of unexpected beauty that will catch you by surprise. Days when you’ll look up at the storms rolling in and feel a moment of pure contentment and pleasure. Days when you’ll turn a corner and catch a glimpse of the city that sued to be, eking out its existence like a wild-flower amid the concrete.

Days when you’ll suddenly glance a certain way, see the world from an angle you haven’t seen it from before, and the beauty will hit you like a punch to the gut. The familiar becomes unfamiliar and unknowable and wonderfully strange, and you have no choice but to smile.

I always assume I will leave Brisbane one day, but I’ve been assuming that for nearly fifteen years now. The summers are like a punishment. The people I love keep moving away, year after year.

But the city still surprises me. Still makes me catch my breath, on the days I least expect it.

Brisbane keeps making its case for staying, and I keep giving in.

A photo posted by Peter M Ball (@petermball) on

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