Every traveller knows a good book is an essential packing item – your key to surviving those dragged out stopovers, the perfect way to steal some quiet ‘me’ time and the most transportable source of research for your destination. Problem is, in some places it just doesn’t seem fitting to whip out your trusty earmarked friend and absorb yourself in the pages. Here’s a list of Brisbane’s best book cafes, where reading is the norm and bookshelves grace the walls for further browsing.
Riverbend Books & Teahouse Bulimba, 193 Oxford Street For a teahouse and a bookstore, you’ll be surprised to hear it’s also BYO wine at Riverbend. Perched on the front deck of a lovely renovated ‘Queenslander’ style house, the atmosphere is relaxed and chatty. Fronting onto Oxford Street, Bulimba’s main strip of shops and cafes, the leafy trees provide a shield of privacy so you can sip your brew and have a casual bite to eat before wandering inside to browse the shelves. The menu features breakfast, lunch and dinner options, including a chicken, orange and macadamia nut salad with rocket and blue cheese dressing. Check the website to see if you’re around in time for an event, with writers, illustrators, chefs and others regularly dropping by. Open: 7.30am-5pm daily (bookshop open a bit later). Dinner available Thursday to Saturday, bookings highly recommended.
Clarence Corner Bookshop and Café Woolloongabba, 596 Stanley Street Tucked away in a beautiful late-19th century building, Clarence Corner boasts an array of new and old books in all subjects and genres, including some out-of-print editions. A short walk from Southbank and the Goodwill Bridge, not many tourists would even know it exists. While the breakfast menu isn’t overly varied – banana bread, homemade vanilla bean granola and a variety of toppings on toast – the milk is organic and the breads good quality (sourdough and gluten free available), with a decent range of herbal teas. Depending on what day you drop by, you may catch a movie, musician or the clairvoyant who does readings on site. Open: 6.30am-2.30pm daily (breakfast ‘til 1.30pm). Café Bouquiniste New Farm, 121 Merthyr Road This café is small and cosy, but packed with cuteness. Bouquiniste is French for bookseller, but you’ll find art, cards and other random bits here as well – from pretty smelly soaps to vintage French postcards and even rubber stamps. The space is relaxed and inviting with an artsy and decorative interior and a few quirky, old-fashioned furniture pieces. It’s only small – tiny actually – but the shelves boast some interesting books to peek your nose into, and if you like what you see, buy. On the menu, choose from toasted sandwiches and savoury tarts, as well as some breakfast items, or else have some cake and sweets with a coffee, all at good prices. Open: 8am-5.30pm daily.
Coaldrake’s Bookshop Fortitude Valley, 1000 Ann Street With an impressive range of books on offer, there’s also a pretty good range on the menu, including hearty breakfasts like the Big Brekky featuring scrambled eggs, tamarind chutney, Turkish toast, ham, grilled tomato and avocado. Opening out onto the pavement, Coaldrake’s is positioned in a corner of the Emporium complex. Over ten years old, it’s known for its outstanding range of literature, history, travel and children’s books, but houses a range of genres. A second store recently opened at The Barracks, 61 Petrie Terrace, between Roma Street and Paddington. Open: 7am-5pm Mon-Fri; 7.30am-5pm Sat; 7.30am-4pm Sun.
Chess. Coffee. Chocolate. You’ll find it all at Café Checocho. Come by on the right night and you could be graced with some live jazz, blues or gypsy music too! Located in West End, the same chilled out vibe that infiltrates the suburb pulses here. There’s a treasure trove of second-hand books to purchase or read at your table, or else you could simply read the story collaged under your elbows. From images to photographs, each table is smothered in cut-outs depicting a different theme. And if you don’t play chess, there are plenty of other board games to choose from to play into the night. Both warm and cosy during winter, the gelato cabinet will keep you cool in summer. The menu offers a good selection, including pizzas, pastas, salads, burgers and risotto. Monday is raw food night. Open: Mon & Tues 11am-10pm; Wed & Thurs 7am-10pm; Fri & Sat 7am-11pm; Sun 7am-10pm.
Black Cat Books & Café Paddington, 179 Latrobe Terrace Once the site of Mary Ryan's Paddington, this cafe now stands proudly independent and with a new name. The helpful and knowledgeable staff make finding the right book a breeze amongst a collection that’s varied. You’d be forgiven for walking out without seeing the café, but follow the smell of coffee downstairs and you’ll no doubt be impressed. There’s plenty of seating inside that looks out over the leafy yard, but if you’d rather be amongst the greens the multi-tiered decks that lead down to the gazebo are even better. The menu features ready-made treats like paninis, filo pastries, enchiladas, and sandwich rolls. For the sweet tooths, there’s also cake, biscuits, banana bread and fruit toast. Open: 9am-4pm Mon-Fri; 9am-5pm weekends.
Avid Reader West End, 193 Boundary Street A local favourite, Avid Reader boasts a great team of staff who can point you in the right direction – they’re often writers themselves. With a large selection of books in all genres, there’s also an interesting assortment of nick-nacks, goodies and CDs to tempt you. Wander to the back of the store to find the little café nestled in the corner with walls dotted in artworks. Here you can fill up on toasted Turkish bread sandwiches, crisp salads with halloumi cheese, savoury tarts, soups, and mouth-watering gluten-free cakes and cupcakes. Breakfast muesli, fruit toast and smoothies feature too. Enquire at the counter or online to find out when the next in-store event is – you might catch a book launch or signing. Open: 8.30am-4pm daily.
Perched around the corner from Brunswick Street Mall in Brisbane's Fortitude Valley - overrun with partygoers by night and crammed with markets by day on weekends - Limes Rooftop Bar offers a chic escape from the chaos on the ground.
From the breezy wooden decks of The Summerhouse, you'd be forgiven for feeling a whole world away from the bustling urban scene of Byron Bay's tourist-laden streets.
Perched on a hill between Byron Bay and the refreshingly cute inland town of Bangalow, The Summerhouse brings its guests the best of both worlds. Whilst the sweeping coastal views to the far north and south of Byron Bay are beautiful from this peaceful perch afar, it's also stunningly deceiving, for just a five minute drive will steer you into the thick of it. Common luxuries The main attraction at The Summerhouse lies at its heart. An impeccable central common area provides guests access to kitchen facilities and a large indoor dining area, opening out onto an expansive verandah and wooden decks by the salt water pool. With 180 degree views from the pool's edge that stretch out over green properties to the coast, it's not much less from inside as the glass bifold doors are left wide open most of the day in good weather. The entire house is energised by the breeze wafting through and it's oh so easy to linger about here for hours with those daybeds calling. Don't miss a poolside sunset - it's truly mesmerising. The rooms Each pure and elegant in style, the well-appointed rooms perfectly complement the common area, with the same Moroccan-inspired finishing touch. Peaceful and bright, all rooms feature fantastic views of the ocean coastline and Byron Bay Lighthouse, as well as private en suites, a large flat screen TV/DVD/CD and climate control. The rooms differ slightly in terms of space and facilities. The Premium Room is the largest with a his'n'hers spa bath and shower. The Superior Room is second largest with a spa bath ensuite, whilst the Luxury Room features purely an ensuite. All though, boast a private balcony and king size beds. The poolside Deluxe Room is queen size, whilst the Studio is the smallest option, a petite but charming option for short stays. Two couples or a small family can be catered to in the Apartment, which sleeps up to four guests (two on a sofa bed). This room also includes a versatile kitchenette and spa bathroom. Pampering services Not only is it possible to book a massage or facial during your stay, but start the day pampered with breakfast cooked to perfection by an onsite breakfast chef. With high-quality continental offerings, including Gluten Free options, you can also choose from pancakes, fresh free range eggs, bacon, smoked salmon, fresh cappuccinos and a selection of teas. Local grooves Whilst Byron Bay itself offers a plentiful mix of breezy bars, utopian restaurants and shops to fit out your summer wardrobe, the true beauty lies in the region as a whole. Explore the many beaches surrounding Byron, including hidden spots like King's Beach and Bray's Beach, where you may even find one all to yourself. Considering you're half way there, don't miss cute little Bangalow. If you're able to venture a little further, head inland to discover green rolling pastures, rainforests and waterfalls. And then there's Nimbin, which has more to it than its seedy past may pose. Check out the candle-making factory, chuckle at the drug-inspired shop names, and be sure to tackle a mean satay tofu burger. Coopers Shoot Road 9, Byron Bay, Australia Contact tel: +61 (0)2 6685 3090, BOOK NOW