On the end of a peninsula in Moreton Bay, at the northern end of Brisbane city, sits my hometown of Redcliffe, where the sun shines every day and the seagulls are very well behaved. Three long islands form a boundary just off the coast around Brisbane with Redcliffe facing Moreton Island in the middle. It was the site of the first European settlement in Queensland in 1824, before the small group of convicts, soldiers and their families moved south to a spot on the Brisbane River, now the city centre, to secure a better water supply.
With its long sandy beach, sea breezes and more temperate climate, Redcliffe became a holiday destination for many Brisbane people trying to escape the humidity in summer. Boat loads of visitors would spill out onto the historic jetty every week and head straight for the water. Today, people drive across a bridge onto the peninsula, leaving their cares behind as they embrace a never-ending holiday season. What can be better than fresh fish and chips and a glass of wine as you watch the light fade across the bay?
On the Parade facing the water, there is a café culture that still makes Redcliffe a popular destination, especially on Sunday mornings when the street is closed off and a market springs up selling everything from fresh produce and craft items to cooked food and that vegetable peeler you simply can’t live without. Musicians play along the street and the markets are certainly the place where dog owners parade their pampered pooches with pride. Sometimes they take their kids too.
A series of arcades run from the Parade through to the street behind and are home to a weird and wonderful array of shops and cafes – Italian restaurants, beach bling, English tea rooms, the Ethiopian coffee shop, vinyl records and, of course, the great Australian op shops. Redcliffe has a retro feel, not just because of the shops selling second-hand goods but because many people still have that old-world sincerity and simplicity. It’s all easy going in Redcliffe and people are always up for a chat.
Redcliffe has some famous sons but its most famous are the Bee Gees. Yes, that’s right, they were born in England but grew up in Redcliffe and their very first public appearance was at the Redcliffe Speedway in 1958. There is now a small street in their honour running back from the Parade, which has become a mecca for fans from around the world. The Bee Gees Way has a large screen showing continuous video footage of the Bee Gees, murals, bronze statues of the trio as kids and adults, and an exhibition charting their rise to fame. In 2015, when Barry Gibb returned to Redcliffe to open the second stage of Bee Gees Way, 10,000 people crowded the streets to see him.
I don’t need a car in my hometown. I can walk to everything – the beach, the cafés, the pub, the supermarket and of course the fish and chip shop. It’s pretty good just ‘stayin’ alive’ right here in Redcliffe.