Shopping Secrets was the brainchild of Michelle Matthews. She began it in 1998 with a series of retail travel-guides which were so successful they were favourably reviewed in The New York Times.
In 2003 a new guide format was developed. The first title was Bar Secrets Melbourne. That was also a success. Not just visitors but locals use them to discover new places and things to do in their home town.
Contributors, who do not pay to be included, are chosen after exhaustive research. Once selected, they are invited to submit information about where they are, what they do and how they go about it. Details are on cards in a pack similar to a deck of playing cards, so are easy to carry and to access. They are updated as often as is practicable, two or three times a year.
The concept is obviously doing something very right as there are 21 titles in the Secrets series in Australia and they have spread to New Zealand, Asia, North America, the UK and Europe.
The Getaway crew headed to Brisbane armed with the three decks for that city. The first Brisbane series were Shop, Eat and Drink. Day Trips cards are the first to be released in Australia.
First stop was the Gallery of Modern Art, known to locals as GoMA. It's just a short walk over the Victoria Bridge from the CBD and within easy walking distance of the Queensland Art Gallery. GoMA is Australia's largest gallery dedicated to modern art and has 25,600 square metres of floor space over five levels. Its 12 galleries and exhibition spaces are equipped to use natural or artificial light. The building itself is a modern artwork, described as a classic piece of modernism. The windows frame the city and Brisbane River.
The gallery is recognised as an international leader in innovative programs for children and is committed to profiling indigenous Australian art and strengthening relationships with the state's indigenous communities.
Watt Modern Dining on the waterfront at New Farm is a 10 minute CityCat ferry ride from the city. On the boardwalk in front of the Powerhouse arts venue, it has one of the best outlooks in Brisbane. It's all about food, music and space and serves breakfast, lunch, dinner, light meals, coffee and cocktails. It is laidback and modern, with a menu of Australian cuisine with Asian, Middle Eastern and European influences. The cellar has an excellent range, including some of Australia's and Queensland's best.
Lychee Lounge in the trendy West End is one of Brisbane's quirkiest bars. It has attracted its share of famous visitors Gwen Stefani and No Doubt, Benjamin Bratt, Silverchair, Cate Blanchett, Nine Inch Nails, Missy Higgins and Bernard Fanning.
Décor and menu are Asian inspired the Opium Den, Tatami Dining and Samuri-inspired bar. One of the highlights is a non-Asian chandelier made of Barbie doll heads. There's also a round table beneath a dome creating acoustics which play with ambient noise, so you can clearly hear someone speaking, even if you are surrounded by 30 noisy people.
The cocktail list draws on fresh produce and exotic spirits. Owner Elie Moubarak mixes up a mean lychee martini as the house specialty.
Around Brisbane, Queensland's capital city.
GoMA admission is free. It is open on weekdays between 10am-5pm and between 9am-5pm on weekends.
Watt Modern Dining opens at 10am between Tuesday and Friday and at 8am on weekends.
Deck of Secrets is available for Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne. They cost $9.96 a pack and can be purchased at bookstores, newsagents and department stores.
For more information
Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA)
South Brisbane 4101
Ph: (07) 3840 7303
Fax: (07) 3844 8865
Watt Modern Dining
119 Lamington Street
New Farm 4005
Ph: (07) 3358 5464
Fax: (07) 3358 3050
2/94 Boundary Street
West End 4101
Ph: (07) 3846 0544
Shopping Secrets Pty Ltd.
PO Box 12830
Ph: (03) 9670 8740