It might just be the perfect park, unless you’re looking for somewhere to park

Once a teenage hangout, Brisbane’s ever-changing New Farm Park is still perfect, unless you want to park, writes Phil Brown

Jul 08, 2024, updated Jul 08, 2024

We just made arrangements to meet somebody at New Farm Park and I’m wondering where I will park the car. Remember when New Farm was Brisbane’s best kept secret?

Yeah, well the secret is out. Big time. Pop on over to New Farm Park any sunny Sunday and it is chokers. Worse when there are football matches being played on the bottom ovals.

The place is insanely popular. But I remember when New Farm was relatively quiet. My wife Sandra and I both lived there in the 1980s, separately, before we got together. Sandra lived on Teneriffe Hill at one stage and then in Foxthorn Court, a funky old block of flats in Moreton Street.

When she was living there, I lived in Hampton Court on Bowen Terrace, a lovely old Federation building with stained glass windows at the front featuring, among other things, a kookaburra. I lived in the top right-hand apartment and when I first moved in, I had an uninterrupted view of the Story Bridge which was spectacular at night. We both worked as journalists in the Sun building in Fortitude Valley.

When I was living in my bachelor pad, I had a bike and I used to ride down to New Farm Park and sit under the trees at the teahouse that was there then. It burnt down and was never replaced, more’s the pity.

It was usually pretty quiet. There was no functioning Brisbane Powerhouse then, it was just an abandoned hulk beyond a forest of weeds.

How times have changed.

When we got married in 1992, we were living in a flat in Llewellyn Street and our local café was always the New Farm Deli. I still go there sometimes even though we don’t live in New Farm anymore. But we still consider ourselves locals.

New Farm was, in the 1980s and early 1990s, a favourite place for artists and actors and writers and Italians and other subcultures. It was cool and a bit underground and had lots of funky old buildings. I also lived briefly in the famed art deco mansion Coronet Court across from New Farm Park.

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Then, in late 1992 Sandra and I moved to Melbourne for a few years. By the time we got back New Farm had gone ballistic!

And its popularity has grown like topsy since. We came back to Brisbane in 1995 and ended up renting at Spring Hill. We nearly bought a house at New Farm but ended up at Wilston instead for some years and we have moved from there but we love going back to New Farm.

It still feels like home. Now I go to the park and end up circumnavigating it several times, trying to get a parking spot. I sometimes park in the Brisbane Powerhouse car park which is handy or nearby on Oxlade Drive.

We might end up living back at New Farm at some stage, if they’ll have us. I mean we discovered it long before the thousands of others who have moved in since. Just saying.



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