Something is happening in our cities right now. There’s an electricity – a kind of frenzied excitement in the air. You can’t escape it. Our restaurants, our bars, our pubs, our theatres, our music venues, our cinemas, our galleries, our gyms: they’ve sprung back to life. There’s an extra layer of magic. And it’s understandable – for almost two years, on and off, we’ve been locked down and locked in.

But as Melbourne and Sydney emerge out of prolonged lockdowns, and travel opens up around Australia, it’s never been a more exciting time to get out and explore our neighbourhoods, our communities, our cities – our country.

For us, the magic can be summed up in one word: unlocked.

Dining out – unlocked. Visiting a gallery – unlocked. A night at the movies – unlocked. Road trips – unlocked. Borders – unlocked. Australia, finally, unlocked.

Things aren’t what they were. Masks are here for the foreseeable future, and some light restrictions too; there are people in our communities still vulnerable to the virus who we need to protect. International travel is still touch and go. Our offices will never look the same. And our remarkable, often exhausted frontline workers are still going into battle every day and will be in the trenches for some time.

Our lives and our cities have fundamentally changed. But after almost two years, thanks to a heroic vaccination drive and long periods of sacrifice, Australia is getting back to what it does best.

Sitting at the bar, with a crisp glass of wine served by a white-aproned waiter (not your roommate) at the city’s most exciting new restaurant. Having a pint at your local pub – how much did you miss ice-cold beer from a tap? – at a street-side table with your best mates, surrounded by more best mates catching up for Friday night drinks. Going into the state gallery and standing just a metre from some of the most important artworks of the 20th century. Smelling the oil paint. Seeing the brushstrokes. Listening to a band – live! Exercise, in a studio – and not on the floor at home while your dog or your kid fanatically thwart your efforts.

And what makes us really emotional, and excitable, is thinking about leaving the city. Open roads. Seatbelt signs. Packing an actual suitcase. Because even for those cities and states that have been able to enjoy their restaurants and their nightclubs and their theatres, restricted travel has been a democratising factor for all Australians – you might not have been locked down where you live, but you were locked in. Or locked out. There’s been nothing more special than seeing the reunions going on around the country as borders open back up.

For 12 years and counting, we’ve been covering Australia’s world-class hospitality, arts, fashion, entertainment, travel, active lifestyles and the wonderful people who make them tick. For the past almost two years, that coverage has looked a little different. But our cities and our regions are alive again, and Broadsheet is here to help you get out there and enjoy them.

We’ll be speaking to the wonderful people who make culture and travel in this country so exciting, and helping you access and curate whichever journey or adventure is next on your agenda – whether it’s an 11,000 kilometre road trip or a trip around the block.

We’ve got a bunch of exciting new ways to help you do that: from a new membership program that will give you special access to the best things going on in your cities right now, to our forthcoming app, which makes it even easier to explore and rediscover your city.

Come with us. Culture never stops.

Katya Wachtel, editorial director, and Nick Shelton, publisher