BRISBANE, Wherein MANNY PACQUAIO Fights Next, and Other Sights

Pacquaio

If there’s some sort of “Trinity” of Australia’s major cities, they would be, in order, Sydney first, Melbourne second, and Brisbane third. The capital of the eastern state of Queensland, the main city and its surrounding metropolitan area is concentrated along its namesake the Brisbane River, which empties into Moreton Bay, explored during the 19th Century by British explorer John Oxley. The site of the original settlement is now where modern Brisbane’s central business district stands, with a portion of the “Early Streets” reserved as a heritage archeological location.

Aside from that, Brisbane is a metropolitan city with sophisticated galleries and lively rooftop bars, contrasting their cool vineyards further inland with the subtropical beaches along the shoreline up to the city of Gold Coast to its south. And there’s going to be quite a buzz happening there for both Filipinos and boxing fans all over the world, with legendary boxer Manny Pacquiao taking on local Australian slugger Jeff Horn in the “Battle of Brisbane” this July.

Brisbane

Brisbane is one of five Australian destinations for Philippine Airlines. They fly from Manila to Brisbane Airport – by way of Darwin – on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, at 11:30 PM Manila time, arriving the following day at 11 AM.

Like a lot of major cities in Australia, Brisbane had humble beginnings as a penal settlement when the British Empire decided to make the Land Down Under as a colony for their convicts. And like other settlements of this sort, its growth is attributed to the eventual influx of free settlers, a wave that grew to the point that when Queensland was separated from New South Wales in 1859, Brisbane was chosen to be the new state’s capital, ultimately becoming an incorporated city in 1902.

When the Pacific Theater of World War II got into full swing, Brisbane became the Southwest Pacific Headquarters of the American General Douglas MacArthur. The city itself played host to a great number of American servicemen, who were with Australia part of the Allied Powers against the expansion of the enemy Axis nation of Japan. While interactions between Yanks and Aussies were warm and cooperative, certain conflicts resulted in a November 1942 riot between the two forces’ personnel. The incident was called the “Battle of Brisbane”, a name now revived for the upcoming match between the Philippines’ Pacquiao and hometown hero Horn. How’s that for build-up?

Brisbane of today has grown a lot since then, having been host of such global events as the 1988 World Expo, the final Goodwill Games in 2001, partial venue of the 2003 Rugby World Cup and the 2014 G20 Summit. It has developed a strong image of being one of Australia’s main scenes for both classical and popular music and live theatre, with complexes ranging from the Queensland Cultural Centre to the Brisbane Powerhouse.

Those two areas cater to live theatre performances; the former has the Queensland Performing Arts Centre for the classy scene while the latter is more contemporary as befitting the location’s former use as a power station. If you’re more inclined to presentations of a scientific bent, then you can find the largest planetarium in Australia here at the Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium, which holds 11 regular outer-space light shows in addition to their observatory telescopes.

Museums and art galleries are also a major draw for visitors to Brisbane. There’s quite a lot of the city’s history recounted at the Museum of Brisbane, modern aesthetic exhibits at the Gallery of Modern Art, homegrown Australian art at the Toowoomba Regional Gallery and the Woolloongabba Art Gallery.

While Brisbane is already quite a progressive and modern city, they still make provisions for preserving a natural beauty for both residents and tourists to enjoy. Visitors can get to see Aussie wildlife up close at the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, while plants and trees galore give off a fresh atmosphere at both the City Botanical Garden and the Moreton Island National Park & Recreation Area just off Moreton Bay.

And then there’s the assortment of annual festive events that mark the calendars for Brisbane every year. They have the Royal Queenslan Exhibition or “Ekka” in the middle of the year and the “Warana” or “Blue Skies” cultural festival every September. But this 2017 one major occasion is of course the Pacquiao-Horn clash for the WBO welterweight championship, to be fought at Lang Park, also known as Suncorp Stadium, on July 2. This will be the boxing legend’s second fight after his announced retirement to run (and win) for the Philippine Senate. Filipinos will of course be rooting for their Fighting Senator to fight and win.

There’s a lush and sultry air to Brisbane that flavors its cultural and entertainment scene to give it a sophisticated look. I can think of no better time to make arrangements for traveling to Australia’s third main city than two months from now, if you’re looking forward to watching a big name of boxing in between sampling the local sights and sounds. Even if Pacquiao isn’t going to be there in July, Brisbane won’t leave you bored.

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