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Queensland's top 5 hipster hangouts

Published October 7th, 2013

Think Melbourne has the Aussie franchise on skinny jean-wearing, beard-growing, indie music-downloading, organic soy latte-drinking, '90s-throwback hipster cool? Not so, mes amis. With the old tourism tagline of 'Beautiful one day, perfect the next', the casual observer may conclude Queensland is all sun, surf and sand, but look behind the sunny disposition and you'll find all the hipster cred you crave, just with better lighting #nofilter.

Fortitude Valley


If you hanker for a gritty urban 'burb where you can get your crema just the way you like it, The Valley is your hipster home away from home. First up, no one calls this inner-city suburb Fortitude Valley, not even my cardigan-wearing granddad. It's The Valley, Australia's first Special Entertainment Precinct. Starting from the so-called 'Sin Triangle' centre of sleaze down Brunswick Street, this eclectic 'burb is still grimy around the edges and gentrified in the middle. Brisbane was named one of Billboard mag's top 5 international music hotspots and The Valley is chock full of eclectic labels, lo-fi clubs, dumpling bars and strip joints and the requisite skinny jeans, beards and brogues brigade.


Quintessential hipster moment: Upping your cool cachet by catching an unsigned scuzzy indie garage band gig at Ric's Bar or The Zoo before everyone else jumps on the bandwagon.


Burleigh Heads


The Gold Coast isn't just the domain of the perma-tanned and pneumatically enhanced, (and that's just the budgie smuggler-wearing seniors!), it has a sensitive side too, you know. When the neon bikinis and glitter strip get too much, head to Burleigh Heads for vintage wares, organic chow and capital-city quality barista coffee. James Street is the main drag of this beachside 'burb, and it's also home to a boutique mashup of high-end threads for 'it' girls by 'it' girls, emerging local designers and pre-loved gear with cupcakes and art exhibitions on the side. Head to The Village Markets (TVM) every second Sunday to source even more festival finery, up-cycled furnishings and handmade pieces.


Quintessential hipster moment: Instagramming your raw vegan mini tacos at From Earth & Water - Queensland's first raw, organic, vegan cafe in Burleigh Heads #foodporn.




This trio of Sunshine Coast hinterland towns with their 'frankie' mag mix of art galleries, quaint boutiques and picturesque views have long been a fave with those early adopters; the crafty, blue-rinse day-tripping set. Nestled amid national parks and the Glasshouse Mountains, eschewing the obvious Sunshine Coast beach location for a rainforest cabin makes for an alternative eco experience for those-in-the-know. Take your fixie around Queensland's answer to Byron Bay - Maleny - with its organic eateries, alternative health therapies and local creatives, or hit up Montville village for artisan cheese factories, boutique wineries and craft supplies. An ironic pic at the iconic Big Pineapple is a must.


Quintessential hipster moment: Staying in a luxe treehouse cabin in Montville with free wi-fi and flatscreen LCD TVs to watch webisodes or box sets express from the US.




It's the launching pad for idyllic vacays on the Great Barrier Reef, but Cairns also has hipster hangouts for the young urban sophisticate. Sip on boutique beers and tropical cocktails while listening to DJs spinning jazz and ethnic mixes at Salt House, or hit up the Grafton Street precinct for cool boutiques and cafe culture along a city block of graffitied arcades dotted with street art. Hidden down an alleyway past a comic bookstore, pull up a chair at a communal table at Caffiend, which hosts everything from harmonica workshops to coffee appreciation courses to learn latte art. Discerning foodies will want to stock up at Rusty's Markets with organic tropical fruit and veg, a deli and local delicacies onsite.


Quintessential hipster moment: Going locavore on The Organic Experience Tour and meeting sustainable growers and biodynamic farmers on the land. BYO recyclable bags!


Lady Elliot Island


And, because hipster ideals aren't just confined to the mainland, there's Lady Elliot Island in the southern Great Barrier Reef for that off-the-grid vacay you read about on a blog. No need to feel guilty about your carbon miles in the short plane ride over, your climate change karma will be offset by glamping in a safari-style tent at the Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort. Island numbers are limited to 150 people at any one time, so it's all a bit exclusive in this World Heritage-listed area. Snorkel with turtles in the crystal-clear water, take iPhone pics of your Havaianas juxtaposed against the crumbly coral cays for Pinterest, or take a swing in a hammock strung between palm trees on Sunset Beach at dusk.


Quintessential hipster moment: Updating your blog, Facebook,Tumblr, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter accounts with the pics of giant manta rays taken with your kickass new lens.

Cassandra Laffey

Consumed with unrequited wanderlust, I get my fix in 24/7 cities and hippie retreats. I'm still looking for the ultimate combo of secluded beach and major metropolis, and my happy place is a 5-star hotel room all to myself - sigh.