Fish Lane has changed. In the last five years the narrow South Brisbane byway has gone from a forgotten four-block shortcut used only by taxis to become one of the city’s best destinations for food and beverage.
Popular venues such as Maker, Five Sisters, Hello Please, La Lune, Saccharomyces Beer Cafe and Julius all call the laneway home, with Gauge, Messina, Naim on Melbourne and Chu the Phat just a stone’s throw away.
Celebrating this startling gentrification is Fish Lane Festival, which returns for the second time this Saturday. It’s a day and night of live music, DJs and entertainment. But just like last year, the main focus will be on the food. “Over a dozen places are setting up pop-up tents, where you can grab [something to eat] and head to the big communal table in the middle of the lane,” says Michael Zaicek, commercial manager for Aria Property Group, one of the presenting partners for the festival. “If you and your friends feel like different things, you don’t have to choose.”
During the day kids are well catered for with painting and activities. Both young and old can also take part in the unique experience of crushing your own grapes to make a one-off Fish Lane Wine, with huge vats set up in the laneway. “We’ve made sure it’s an event where people who love food, wine and art can have a good time and bring the family,” Zaicek says.
While Fish Lane Festival 2017 is a celebration of the street as a dining precinct, Zaicek reckons it’s also about introducing a new focus on the arts, and helping extend the cultural precinct out of nearby Grey Street. “We’ve been working with council on developing half a dozen new public art projects in the lane. It’s been a long process to find the right art and get it approved,” he says. “What people will see at the festival is the culmination of years of hard work.
“The other day I was [watching as] internationally renowned artist Fintan Magee was finishing a piece; people [were coming] up to have a look and take selfies with the art,” Zaicek continues. “Fish Lane is a place where people can get involved in and excited about what’s being created.”
Fish Lane Festival kicks off in South Brisbane at midday on Saturday May 13.