Trip Start Apr 30, 2004
Trip End Jan 28, 2005

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Where I stayed

Flag of Australia  , Queensland,
Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Sat Sep 25 - Day 151
The 3 1/2 hour Virgin Blue flight to Brisbane was on time and very smooth. Rene slept prety much the whole way and I watched the jet black, star spangled sky eventually lighten before a red ball of sun rose above the horizon. A spectacular sight and a real bonus as I'd originally only looked out to check the engines weren't on fire. Flying induced paranoia lives on.

Within an hour of landing at Brisbane we'd arrived by bus at the Tourist Gest House, a beautifully restored colonial style building where we'd prebooked a nights accomodation.

Not wanting to waste a morning catching up on sleep we dropped our backpacks, had a quick shower and a cup of tea and then started walking towards the city centre. Brisbane, with its population of 1.5 million is Australias third largest city. The centre is surrounded by a U shaped loop of the Brisbane River which eventually empties into Moreton Bay.

Another blue skyed sunny day made for a pleasant half hour walk into the city, but it is noticeably cooler. After only a few months in S.E. Asia we hadn't realised how aclimatized we'd become until now. In the space of four days, we've gone from temperatures in the upper thirties in Brunei, the lower thirties in Darwin and now the mid twenties in Brisbane. Back in the IOM this is an absolute sorchio of a day, but here we're feeling a touch on the cool side. We're obviously expecting a deluge of sympathy emails at this revelation.

As in Darwin, the street cafe culture in Brisbane is very strong and no nore so than in the pedestrianised Queen Street Mall right in the centre where the good, the bad and the ugly come to eat, drink, shop and be seen. It's a people watchers paradise.

At the end of Queen Street we pass the historical old Treasury Building with its grand Italian Renaissance architecture, which in a Brisbane stylee (Brisbane is known locally as Brisvegas) has been turned into a 24 hour casino.

We followed the crowds across the Victoria Bridge onto Southbnk where straight ahead is the vast (a big surprise to Aussies from outside Queensland) Queensland Cultural Centre, containing the museum, a science centre, art gallery and performing arts centre, and to the left is the mightily impressive Southbank parklands. First opened for Expo 88 the area has since been extensively redeveloped and now contains the superb, but odly named Pauls Breaka Beach. This large artificial swimming area has been designed to resemble a tropical lagoon and it does perfectly, right down to the sand, boulders and palm trees. All our nieces and nephews would adore this place, but it would be a job to pursuade them to leave, there were plenty of tears as parents attempted to remove their kids from the sandcastle filled waters edge.

Behind the lagoon is a pedestrianised, renovated section of historic Stanley Street called the Stanley Street Plaza, containing shops, cafes, and on the weekend, market stalls and live music. Surrounding these main features are areas of open and shaded parkland and meandering walkways framed with a modernist steel arbour covered in purple climbing plants. Quality all the way and not a piece of litter to be seen.

Since arriving in Oz all the local sport talk has been about todays Aussie rules football grand final. So, not surprisingly, with Brisbane having a team in the final, the streets are quieter by mid afternoon as we walk back to our room. It's kind of equivalent to our F.A. Cup Final so I give it a watch. Rene quickly fell asleep. Aussie rules is played on a large oval pitch by large Aussies wearing slightly too tight shorts and vests. They use a rugby shaped ball and surprisingly as its called Aussie Rules, there don't appear to be any. Two tall rugby style posts have a smaller post either side, if the ball is kicked between the centre posts it scores 5 (or 6) points, if it goes either side its 1 point.

It was a good game between the pre match favourites Brisbane and the underdogs Adelaide with plenty of fights, containing full on haymaker pnching.

In the end Adelaide ran out comfortable first time winners. The major drawback I found watching was that you had no real idea whether a kick had gone through the middle posts or not, until a man drssed as a butcher in a white pork pie hat and coat indicated from behind the posts. There were no all round the ground cameras angles, which seemed odd at such a big game and a crowd in excess of 80,000.

We used the communal kitchen at the guest house to cook our tea and with sleep deprivation taking its toll had a very early night.

Expenses (A$2.5/pound): Accom 70.90, bfast 14.10, supermarket 27.95, wine 10, laundry 2, corn 2.

Sunday Sep 26 - Day 152
Being 9 hours ahead, Australias complete lack of interest and my inability to find World Service here, means its internet all the way for the weekends football results back home. Liverppol won, but so did all the other top teams, Forest play tomorrow..

Another glorious day. Perpetual sunshine leads to dull repetative weather forecasts - scorchio. Once again we walk into central Brisbane and visit a couple of excellent Sunday markets on the way.

The first settlement here was a penal colony for convicts with behavioural problems from Botany Bay in NSW, and was established at Redcliffe on Moreton Bay in 1824. Hostile Aborigines and a lack of water caused the colony to move ont othe banks of the Brisbane River before the colony was finally abandoned in 1839.

Brisbanes rise to prominence was kick started when Moreton Bay was thrown open to free settlersin 1842, it also marked the beginning of the end for the regions Aborigines.

In amongst Brisbanes shiny sky scrapers are numerous fine historical buildings. We spent the day vaguely following a walking tour that took in most of the sights. Inbetween we spent an hour sat in Queens Gardens at the Groove and Grape festival watching a band called Women in Docs. They were quality and reminded us of Nicola and her band Bikini. The perimter of the gardens were filled with stalls selling produce from local vineyards, by the glass or bottle. It must have been good quality wine as it was pretty expensive, we looked but didn't sup. Like an old tramp Rene did a lap of minesweeping, but its a pointless pursuit here in Oz.

We spent more time strolling through the Southbank area which again was alive with people and strangely, wild Ibis who are Brisbanes equivalent of the scavenging seagull and with their unfeasibly long curved black beaks, are well suited to the task.

Despite the Parks being busy, there is no shortage of space for picnicers, and the riverside paths allow plenty of room for the hundreds of cyclists, on line skaters and skateboarders as well as walkers and joggers.

At the end of the Sothbank Park we crossed the recently built pedestrianised Goodwill Bridge which offers great views of the River and the Brisbane skyline, and leads towards the peaceful treelined Botanic gardens.

Having become fully fledged, tight arsed, penny (cent) watching backpackers, we have covered some serious walking miles in the last two days and thankfully Rene's hips are holding up real well. She's putting it down to the warm dry weather.

After a mouthwatering meal of last nights warmed up leftovers we hit the bars and clubs of downtown Brisbane and staggered back just as dawn was breaking. Oh no, sorry, that was someone else, we had an early night. Ealry bus to Byron Bay to catch.

Expenses: Accom 70.90, lunch 7.70, supermarket 12.20, wine 10, internet 4.75, socks 8, trainers 100.
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