The 4101 peninsula is renowned for its community spirit, quirkiness and creativity. It is embodied in the Shakhovskoy family with parents Greg and Margherita and four siblings, Giovanna (social worker), Paul (graphic designer), Matthew (business and development consultant) and Simon (Australian Army captain). With their diverse range of skills, the family has teamed up in a very creative way to bring the city its first escape the room attraction called Escape Hunt Brisbane.

The challenge takes scenarios from 100 years ago in Brisbane and turns them into mystery cases for aspiring Sherlocks and Nancy Drews to solve. Visitors can decode clues in simulated settings, figuring out ‘whodunnit’ at Boggo Road Gaol or stopping the bomb from destroying Government House. The idea was inspired when the family was on a trip in South Africa where they tried a similar challenge themselves. They loved the idea and could not resist taking it home. “We had an incredible time and instantly fell in love with the concept,” says Giovanna. “In the days that followed, we had agreed to open Escape Hunt Brisbane and the rest is history.” 

The Shakhovskoys decided to set their Escape Hunt up in the heart of West End (under the Russell Street Australia Post Office), choosing 4101 for its community, location and adventurous people. “I’ve always had a soft spot for West End. It’s perfect in terms of the community base and location close to the city,” Giovanna explains. Paul and Giovanna now run the day-to-day business and work to implement new strategies that are brought to the table by everyone.

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Everyday detectives (local and tourists alike) have come through the doors since November 2015. Year 10 students from Mueller College recently had a field trip with their teachers as part of their fictional crime studies, which they thoroughly enjoyed. There was a lot of energy and great problem solving skills from the cast members of the recent Wicked musical. Scrapbook notes and testimonials from visitors include quotes like “we got out with a minute to spare and we’re still married!” or “#finallyfoundauseforyear12maths”.

The West End Magazine team tried its luck as well and coming out of the room surely feels like an experience — it throws you into a scene where you are working against the clock to find keys for locks and analyse the room you are in for clues. And if wanna-be sleuths hit a deadend or feel claustrophobic, they can ask for clues from Paul and Giovanna via intercom.

The Shakhovskoy family is always looking for new ideas and hope to mix it up every six months with new puzzles inspired by the rich history of Brisbane. In another creative first, the siblings have put together a puzzle room in a caravan — an iconic symbol of the Queensland and Australian lifestyle.

When asked about what the family will be up to next, Giovanna says, “We want to keep providing a great entertainment offering to Brisbane, but also a different and highly effective team building activity and education offering.  There are some incredible benefits of gaming and we want to reach as many people as possible with this real life experience of epic wins!”

Words by Alana Barretto | Images supplied by Escape Hunt Brisbane