10,000 cans and bottles recycled!

Ramona Josie and I have just this week surpassed 10,000 cans and bottles recycled in the container deposit scheme by collecting in our suburb on our morning and afternoon walks since we started in July 2020, 6 days after she was born!

We walk between 8km to 15km a day (although I guess I do all the walking at this stage!) and we turn the recycling into our own scheme whereby 50% of the recycled funds go into toys and educational supplies for her fun and development while the other 50% goes to buying toys to donate to charities like we do each Christmas by donating 100+ Hot Wheels cars to Helen’s Haven and the QLD Children’s Hospital for kids in need.

I love our suburb and the CDS has been a great motivator for exercise, helping the environment, giving back to our community and helping kids in need, cleaning up our suburb, bonding with my daughter and giving my wife a break! (haha).

Brisbane Broncos NRL Fan Experience at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane, 10/07/2022

The Brisbane Broncos put on an absolute fan experience master class today at Suncorp Stadium for the 30th anniversary of the 1992 National Rugby League NSWRL Grand Final win.

All week the Broncos front of house has been producing stellar content online and throughout the club for fans with the focus on this Heritage Round clash and they have done an absolutely marvellous effort for fans both on-field, at the venue and online.

From the extremely popular FREE trading cards (hat tip to their designer as these are outstanding!) to the pet zoo that had kids going wild in the Paddock Club to the Tina Turner singer performing classic retro hits at half time, this was a very good game day and testament to the positive family vibes and stellar fan engagement that the Broncos team put on.

The photo booth activation inside the ground was also a cool experience to participate in and similar to one I did back at Staples Center for a LA Kings game in 2015.

The Broncos did a really good job with the retro merchandise too which was flying out of the stadium with caps and special commemorative shirts as well as the 1992 retro and 2022 heritage jerseys being big winners amongst fans today.

The pre-game lap of honour by the class of 1992 along with the fireworks, Buck the Bronco horse and the RACE THE KIA man were all fun highlights for fans too.

As always the fan journey to the ground is outstanding with free travel on public transport (a good tip for anyone driving and parking in the city that the King George Square car park is $5 on weekends and has dedicated pram bays) while I have to give a shout out to the Suncorp Stadium baby change rooms which were clean while the staff member who helped fill up Ramona’s water bottle offered superb customer service and awareness.

Ramona and I had a fantastic family day on her annual visit for a Broncos game day at Suncorp Stadium.

Sport is just so wonderful how it brings us together ❤️

NRL MAGIC ROUND 2022 Fan Experience Review, Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane 13-15 May 2022

The annual NRL Magic Round event was back at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium for 2022 and despite a week when the rain across Queensland caused persistent widespread flooding the event still drew over 100,000 fans through the turnstiles across the three event days.

With the rain falling heavily across the Friday and Saturday but easing on the third day, fans made their way into the stadium precinct decked out with ponchos and umbrellas but still managed to bring all their colour and atmosphere from the thousands of retro to modern rugby league jerseys on display from fans of all ages. This is a true celebration of rugby league and league fans with supporters rocking Gold Coast Chargers and Seagulls kits to South Queensland Crushers and Western Reds jerseys amongst the smorgasbord of the current 16 NRL teams. It’s this colour, fan passion and atmosphere that is a magical component of this event off the field.

The downloadable stadium map and event guide were handy additions to kick start the planning of the fan journey at Magic Round with the map coming in handy to locate all of the activations both inside and outside the venue. The 32-page event guide had information on merchandise, activations, match-ups, key timings and more valuable information to ensure fans knew everything they needed to know to capitalise on a massive fun weekend of rugby league.

After reminiscing over some old footy cards and beers we decided to head in for the matches on Saturday at 1PM. We made our way into the stadium precinct on the train from Dutton Park station into Roma Street station in the city with the train being packed with rugby league fans in a positive vibe for the three matches being played today for day two. It was a sea of league fans of all ages walking through The Barracks centre in Milton down to Suncorp Stadium and despite the rain that lingered for most of the day and night the fans were still in a very upbeat mood with the bars along Caxton Street pumping with conversations, beers and footy food as thousands of fans commandeered the road heading down to the venue. It was also nice to see the new artwork ‘Welcome’ which featured 25 laser-cut steel hunting boomerangs with welcome greetings in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander language dialects.

What’s On at the Stadium: Precinct

Making my way around the Suncorp Stadium precinct from the Caxton Street end to the Roma Street end the event offered an outstanding first impression of the event presentation that included plenty of activations for fans of all ages such as:

1. Bundy Pop Up Bar

Fans were able to grab a drink from the Bundy Pop Up Bar with the first fans to purchase a Bundy from the Bundaberg Pop Up Bar each day of NRL Magic Round receiving a double pass upgrade for a specific match into the Bundy Backyard Deck inside the stadium. This bar shed was at an entrance point of the NRL Fan Zone area and it was good to see security guards helping people by warning them to be careful entering the space as the ground was slippery and getting slightly muddy.

2. Chemist Warehouse Chill Out Zone

This was a relaxing spot for fans to kick back and chill with deck chairs and beanbags to watch the big screen during and between matches. I believe the deck chairs may have been packed up due to the rain at some point as it would not have been the best setting for them with the rain falling nonstop. Fans also received free gift bags that included chemist items like moisturiser and sunscreen along with a gym towel which for many fans, myself included is stuff I will actually use.  Mascot Wally the Chemist Warehouse Mascot (how did they come up with a mascot name for CW?) surprised fans with upgrades into the Chemist Warehouse Deck inside the venue while there was a fun reaction wall game to play. I finished on 29 which wasn’t too bad considering the top score was 37. I’ll put that down to my good skills in quick thinking and reaction time to putting out arguments amongst grade 4 students that made me go fairly well in this fun game.

3. CUB Great Northern Bar

The CUB beer garden was open between matches where fans could enjoy a drink from the Great Northern bar. The first 50 people to purchase a drink also received a stubby cooler. This was a nice set up that faced away from the venue and towards Caxton street with a live stage below featuring artists playing tunes.

4. Ampol Magic Carpet

Fans were able to experience walking down the red carpet by taking their best Ampol Magic Carpet photo. By sharing it across socials they had the chance to be upgraded into the Ampol Deck inside the stadium. We had a go of this and I even used the fuel bowser emoji in my witty caption all to no avail….must of been the Illawarra Steelers jersey I was wearing. Still a lot of fun for my friends and I to take home a few photos.

5. YOUI Magic Kick

Fans could come down to the Youi Magic Kick in the Precinct to have a go at kicking a footy through the posts!

6. Harvey Norman Photo Station

If fans visited the Harvey Norman station they could collect their FREE magic round photo as well as purchase limited edition Magic Round personalised NRL products. This was a fun activation with my mates and I getting snapped for an event pic that was free to take home. The personalised merch also looked really colourful too.

7. Letter Lights

Fans could grab a photo in front of the Giant Magic Round Letter lights to then share it on channels to #NRLMagic.

8. Swyftx Giant Human Claw

The Swyftx Giant Human Claw was giving away thousands of dollars in prizes over NRL Magic Round weekend, including $5,000 in Bitcoin every day.  Fans could come down and participate in the human-sized version of the traditional arcade game to win these prizes. I watched this for a few participants to have their go and it was actually pretty entertaining. There were obviously a lot of OWHS things to consider with this activation and the weather did not make it any easier. Watching a fan dive down to get an NRL ball and then that ball revealing a prize was quite entertaining and there was certainly enough interest from the fans who had lined up to have a go.

9. Food Trucks

There were plenty of food truck options with gourmet offerings including Eat Fresh kebabs, Chipstars, Brat Haus, Dinky D’d Doughnuts and more. $7 for a dagwood dog and $13 kebabs were affordable for a snack in this fan precinct even if you weren’t intending to go into the venue as this was a fun spot to sit, watch the games and drink and eat.

10. EISS Super Ball

Get your photo taken in front of the giant EISS Super and Steeden Inflatable football.

11. Kids Zone

Magic Round brings the festival vibes for the whole family! Kids were able to get a photo with their favourite team’s mascot, get geared up with face painting, & show off their skills with the magic pass the Ball. With the rain falling all around some fan activities were slow to get going as fans didn’t want to wait in the lines with the rain however it didn’t stop many families and kids from still participating in these free fun activities to take home some memories.

12. NRL Merchandise

Fans could grab their Magic Round mementos exclusively at the venue at the six or so merchandise outlets around the stadium! All 16 teams’ merchandise was also available for purchase like retro jerseys. I was able to pre-plan the purchase of some merch for my daughter like a football and a bucket hat for my work at school by looking through the event guide before heading in, however due to the popularity of many items, these sold out quick smart which was unfortunate but shows the popularity of fans who want to support the NRL, love rugby league and want to rep all 16 teams. Plus the designs were pretty neat too.

What’s On at the Stadium: In-Ground

1. Telstra Live Stage

The Telstra Live Stage hosted music entertainment, DJ’s and performances throughout the NRL Magic Round weekend and was located in the corner of the venue.

2. KFC Fry/No Fry Banners

Fans could give their viewer’s verdict with the KFC Fry/No Fry banners. KFC brand ambassadors inside the stadium handed out Fry/No Fry banners to fans. KFC was also surprising and delighting lucky fans across the weekend with KFC vouchers to redeem KFC.

3. Steeden Magic Ball

Players were throwing Steeden NRL Magic Round footies into the crowd after each match for fans to keep as well as using the tee shirt gun to fire off what I presume were jerseys or shirts from various teams.

4. KFC Bucket Catch

Two lucky fans picked from the crowd matched up against each other on the field during half-time at selected matches across NRL Magic Round weekend. Each fan had to catch as many footies as possible in their KFC bucket to WIN KFC vouchers and merchandise!

5. Telstra Fan Cam

Fans could get involved with the Telstra Fan Cam to win a signed jersey from their favourite NRL team.

6. Ampol Pump It Up Cam

Fans could show their support for their team with the Ampol Pump It Up Cam for their chance to win a $100 fuel voucher. The big screens featured hilarious kiss cams, ‘make some noise’ call outs as well as oblivious cam and a few other funny moments that got a good reception from the crowd. 

7. Telstra Tracker LED Race

Lucky fans across NRL Magic Round weekend got the chance to race against some of the fastest players in the game. The one we saw was able to beat the Telstra Tracker and was quite fast.

8. Ampol Deck

The Ampol ‘Australia’s Own’ Deck was Australian-themed and included a full food & beverage package for guests.  Fans could take their best red-carpet photo at the Ampol Magic Carpet activation in the stadium precinct and share it across socials for the chance to be upgraded into the Ampol Deck. This was a brightly blue coloured event space at the Caxton Street end inside one of the stadium corners and stood out amongst the other social spaces.

9. Bundy Backyard Deck

The Bundy Backyard Deck was the ideal spot to kick back with mates for the best seats in the house at NRL Magic Round.  Guests received full food and beverage offering and the opportunity to meet and greet with NRL legends.  Fans who were one of the first to purchase a Bundy from the Bundy Pop Up Bar in the stadium precinct each day of NRL Magic Round were lucky to receive a double pass upgrade for a specific match into the Bundy Backyard Deck inside the stadium for the best seats in the house. This was another themed social space that looked really impressive for the presentation in one of the corners of the venue.

10. Chemist Warehouse Deck

Guests to the Chemist Warehouse deck received full food and beverage offering, the opportunity to meet and greet with NRL legends and an exclusive product gift bag upon arrival. A relaxing spot in the corner of the venue.

11. Free flags for supporter bay fans

Fans who purchased a supporter bay ticket were able to collect a free supporter flag that featured all 16 club logos on a colourful flag design. They were handing these out to fans everywhere and I was lucky enough to get one for my daughter which will go nicely in her room. A really nice simple touch for a physical item that fans could take home.

12. Lighting

The light shows and themed LED lighting was vibrant and looked good both inside the stadium and on TV. The ability to switch between themes either teams or colourful light shows added to the atmosphere and created a positive vibe to make this a big-time event. The fireworks and flames at the end of the try lines also pumped up the crowd either when the teams were running out or when tries were scored.

Fan Experience Elements

While thousands of fans made for a busy stadium precinct both inside and out it was clear that venue did a very good job of keeping fans safe and ensuring the fan experience was quality. With the rain falling constantly and fans getting wet it was good to see the concourses being managed well to allow the safe and efficient flow of fans despite fans crowding along the bays to try to stay dry and still watch the game. Security and ushers were managing this as best they could under the circumstances.

The staff were really efficient and attentive as I made three enquiries and had interactions with different staff members over the course of the night for some things that I thought needed to be addressed such as glass in the concourse area, catering staff inadvertently blocking a stairwell and an aggressive fan who was throwing items onto the field and agitating other fans. In every situation, the venue and security staff were very helpful and switched on to ensure fans were having an enjoyable event experience.

Food and beverage options were plentiful and inclusive with the frozen cocktails proving to be very popular amongst fans along with Pirate Life craft beer for beverages. It was good to see the dedicated vegan stand in action along with vegan and gluten-free options available in the concession outlets while there were combo deals available as well. From pies, pizza slices and chicken wings and chips to American BBQ, fish and chips and hot dogs, there really was something here to tempt all tastebuds with many prices being affordable and expected for major event days. Beers ranged from $9-11 with most food around the $6-16 mark. I had a fairly decent salad sandwich and 600ml Coke Zero which came in at $11 and which I thought was pretty good value for a footy feed.

Toilets were clean and lines, even for female fans seemed to be moving fast. Staff were abundant around the venue and were seen cleaning constantly throughout the night. I said to one staffer that he was doing a good job and he said no one has ever said that before. It’s something I make a point of doing, especially for cleaning staff and young folks on the concession registers. They do a good job and deserve to be told they’re going well so if you’re at a venue then make sure you give them a little shout out.

The exit at the end of the night was efficient and seamless with buses, trains and taxis all flowing from the venue and making it easy for fans to get home safely. Way-finding signs as well as helpful staff directing fans also just made the exit swift and simple after a long day at the venue. 

NRL Magic Round is an event like no other. The fans are equal to the athletes in terms of the atmosphere and colourful vibe that the event brings and it’s certainly a major sporting event that I reccomend any rugby league or sports fan to go and check out.

NRL Preliminary Final South Sydney Vs Manly Sea Eagles, Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane 24th September 2021

Images from the South Sydney Rabbitohs 36-16 win over Manly at Suncorp Stadium on Friday 24th September 2021.

  • Vaccinations at the game
  • Beer prices rise by 60c since last Broncos match 
  • VB fan zone area
  • Good to get 4 Pines but $11.80 is steep but it does taste better!
  • New LED sport lighting

BBC Radio London Live Interview 28/11/2020

After the conclusion of the third and final deciding State of Origin match on 28th November 2020 I did a live cross interview to BBC London to talk about the COVID restrictions at the game and how the event was managed. I did one call while still at the game as the siren had just sounded on another Queensland series win while I did another quick cross on the walk back to my house at 11pm 

I was recently sent the audio to both add to my site here but also for my own personal record as it will be something interesting to look back on down the track especially considering when you think about where Australia was at this point in time compared to the rest of the world (this match was the biggest crowd since the pandemic began) and then subsequently what played out only a few months later in Australia due to the total incompetence and poor leadership of our pathetic Liberal Government. Well it’s true….

Link to blog post from the match: https://mrblairhughes.com/state-of-origin-iii-queensland-vs-nsw-suncorp-stadium-brisbane-18-11-2020/ 

My Kind Of Scene: The Brisbane Sounds Project 10 Years On

Brisbane Sounds Logo 2010 (Moonshine Madness)

Brisbane Sounds Logo 2010 (Moonshine Madness)

Launching Brisbane Sounds 2008

Launching Brisbane Sounds 2008


September 9 2006: Brisbane Sounds is born at approximately 2am on the back steps of the Zoo Nightclub after an Iron On gig. With a scrapbook in one hand and a cold Cooper’s Green in the other and the smell of rock and roll (a delightful mix of vom, sweat, sugar soap and beer) in the air after the clean up I took the first steps in putting together a project that was designed to promote Brisbane’s exceptional music talent.

I became a fan of the Brisbane music scene in the late 90’s as a teenager hooked on Aussie alternative music of the time thanks to Brissy bands like the Gurge, Custard, Powdies, Gota Cola, Rhubarb, Screamfeeder, Butterfingers and well the list goes on. I always had such a great time hanging out with mates supporting local bands at The Zoo, The Arena, The Step Inn, X and Y Bar, The Troubadour and The Tivoli while grabbing local bands merch and records at Skinny’s, The Record Exchange and Rockinghorse. In my opinion Brisbane music and the history of where it came from was something to be commended and promoted and I was always looking at ways in which I could do that and get people from home and far away places in to our music history.

10 years ago to the day and I was finalising an education degree and getting set to take up my first teaching post in Mildenhall, England which was due to start in December. Having also wanted to do something to promote the Brisbane music scene while living in the UK, I decided I’d make a compilation album and give copies out to local radio stations, PR agencies, A&R reps, venues and anyone who would listen to me talk about Brisbane bands throughout my travels. I owe a lot at this point to the crew I was working with at The Zoo Nightclub in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley who offered up a lot of ideas and support to make Brisbane Sounds happen. From Joccy, Jase and Vicki to Bridget, Roger and Chris and Matty and Will- you guys were all such legends and I was extremely lucky to have learnt many skills and life experiences from you.

The Zoo Nightclub Crew 2007

The Zoo Nightclub Crew 2007

The first edition of the Brisbane Sounds record titled ‘Brisbane Sounds 2007‘ was made out of supplies courtesy of in-kind support from one of my jobs at the time in the department store Target in Buranda, Brisbane, a budget of about $100 and a six pack of our go to post Zoo shift beer (Cooper’s) for ideas generation. The CD lacked any real design unless you can call the word doc printer ink DIY job I did a design and was pressed completely unprofessionally without any mastering or any real idea of what I was doing. I literally had no skills in anything to do with production, marketing, PR, social, design but I did have a vision. I had my heart in the right place and was just trying to do something positive to promote Brisbane music from back home which I was so proud of.

Brisbane Sounds 2007

Brisbane Sounds 2007

While hardly a professional start, the first edition of the album and the subsequent learnings that took place as I networked with music industry reps in artist management, PR, marketing, social media and venue operations across the UK, Europe, USA and Australia paved the way for improving Brisbane Sounds year after year as well as developing my skills in these areas in what was always a very kinaesthetic and practical way.

Promoting Brisbane Sounds in Amsterdam, 2007

Promoting Brisbane Sounds in Amsterdam, 2007

Brisbane Sounds lasted a solid six years and produced some really beneficial outcomes for the Brisbane music industry locally and globally for which I’ll always be proud of. On a personal level it was also one of the greatest things I ever did to invest in myself and learn as much as I could about the music business and also about fan engagement, marketing, social media which has helped me get to where I am now in my current role. While tertitary educational music business courses (and any study for that matter) are worthwhile, nothing will ever compare to investing your own money, taking calculated risks, getting your hands dirty and throwing yourself passionately into a project you love in order to make a difference. I found it so important to make mistakes, learn from those mistakes and come back stronger with my skills every time and I’d often go on to talk to my students about this and why resiliency is so important in our lives. That is the power of life long learning and in more simple terms, getting off you’re arse and making awesome shit happen.

Over the years I was privileged enough to have a chance to work in the industry at venues in Brisbane and London (Hammersmith Apollo), promoting gigs and putting together and executing the BS vision which was always to shine a light on our local music industry.I worked my butt off for those years traveling the globe on my teacher salary and some grant funding and doing whatever I could to be a spokesperson and advocate for the Brisbane scene. I owe plenty of thanks to everyone who helped me along the way from street press, radio, record stores and graphic designers to photographers, website designers, venue managers, bands and artists and of course our fans all over the world who helped our team. I must have worked with hundreds of different individuals over the years so it goes to show how large the arts scene is and why its important for our local and federal governments to continue to support it.

Without throwing myself into Brisbane Sounds I wouldn’t have been able to work at QPRFC or now have a dream gig at audioBoom where I get to talk about fan engagement all day long (to the chagrin of many I bet). But alas I love everything to do with fan engagement with looking after and going the extra mile for people, customers and fans and always will.

Here are some stats to recap on the Brisbane Sounds project:

  • Showcased 100+ artists on the five compilation albums and associated gigs.
  • 100+ events from nightclub gigs, school showcases, music industry workshops and of course our Pop-Up shop.
  • 13,100 FREE Compilation albums produced and distributed worldwide.
  • Received 21,000 in grant funding. Thank you BCC, Brisbane Marketing, QMusic and QLD Government as well as any one who bought a copy or came to the gigs which all helped with running costs
  • Developed the first ever Australian gig guide app, BRISSOUNDS in 2010 (Thanks DevGeeks)
  • UK/USA/Europe showcases along with a 15 date tour for SEALS in 2011.
  • Close to 20K fans across various social media platforms
  • 27 music industry job starts given to young music business/arts students or kids trying to get a start in the industry.

Along with this some of my favourite memories were:

  • Flood Bank. Raising $15,000 for QLD flood victims in 2011 and Violent Soho smashing out a great set at the end.
  • Having fans download our app in far off places like Russia and Afghanistan.
  • Getting to learn from leaders in venue management in Joc at The Zoo and Heiko at The Hammersmith Apollo in London.
  • Booking and touring a band around the UK for a 15 date tour
  • Getting Brisbane Sounds records into Amobea Records LA and Rough Trade Records in London. There’s possibly still stock there too.
  • Talking Brisbane music with Spencer Howson on a weekly ABC Brisbane radio spot to showcase the latest in local music news.
  • Attending major music showcases and festivals like SXSW, Liverpool Sound City, The Great Escape and BigSound.
  • Getting copies of the albums into the hands of major artists like Tegan and Sara and B.R.M.C to The Kills and Emmy Lou Harris who then helped to promote BS.

I certainly had my battles with the blatant bullshit nepotism of the music industry along the way and I might not have always been the easiest to work with (I hear my graphic designers agreeing here) as I wanted to always stay out of cliques and do things professionally by the book because I wanted to help everyone I could and never play favourites to uphold the professional integrity of the project. Brisbane Sounds was always about promoting the artists, the venues, the arts scene workers and the fans but I do apologise If I ever pissed anyone off along the way as I put that down to being young and thinking I knew it all. I didn’t know it all but you learn from that with age and life experience.

Thank you to everyone who shared my passion and enthusiasm for Brisbane music and helped along the way. It truly was a collaborative team effort from so many in the Brissy music community and you all deserve praise for helping along the way. I never could have started or continued to improve the project had it not been for all of your skills and it’s been great to watch so many of you continue to support the Brisbane music industry in your careers as well as go on to bigger and better things.

Brisbane Sounds was a very professional project that delivered a lot of successful outcomes for the Brisbane music scene for which I’ll always be immensely proud of and this week I finally got around to sorting out the framing of the five compilation albums as well as some of the gig posters. Whenever I look at it, I’ll think of you and what we achieved, thanks.

All the best,

Blair Hughes

9th September 2016

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