Getting The Visa

Trip Start Aug 06, 2011
Trip End Oct 06, 2013

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Flag of Australia  , Queensland,
Monday, August 8, 2011

The word must have gotten out that we were getting outstanding service from Air Canada staff and that urgent call to corrective action resulted in spilled tea on one side of my shirt, coffee on the other, and some sort of chocolate brownie on my pant leg. Along with a bruised elbow from a runaway food cart, balance had been restored, and my AC service expectations had been successfully dialed back to mediocre. Throw in a baby a couple of rows back who set some sort of Guiness record after screaming non-stop for 17 hours and the flight to Australia was about par for the course these days.

The  island kingdom of Australia is extraordinarily paranoid with respect to any variety of critters sneaking their way into the country via the luggage and personal effects of all visitors. As a result, our introduction to Sydney included a spray shower of some sort of Agent Orange derivative which the AC staff took great pleasure in applying. And then it was a full on rush to catch the connecting flight to Brisbane. 

Arriving in Brisbane was remarkably painless. Short flight, nice airport, and a quick connection to our home for the next 3 days, the Brisbane Backpackers Hostel. The BBH was my first clue that Australians were not the hard drinking, cowboy mavericks I had thought they were- we've never stayed in a place with more posted rules than the BBH and each rule had any violators kicked to the curb. Brisbane itself was overflowing with posted rules that the locals seem to embrace- it has to be the cleanest city I've ever seen- the streets were litter-free, the buses we rode in gleamed, and even the city bikes in the many racks of  rentals (good idea on paper?) were perfectly aligned if not well used.

We were able to secure our visa for Papua New Guinea here but the highlight of Brisbane for us was a day trip to the Lonely Pine animal sanctuary where we saw most of the animals that define Australia: Koala Bears, Dingos, Wombats, Emus, Tasmanian Devils, Duck Billed Platypus, and, of course, Kangaroos. In an open field area we were able to hand feed the Kangaroos who were surprisingly gentle and well mannered (a restaurant near the hostel was serving a Kangaroo dish we were going to try- after this amazing encounter we struck the cuddly Kangaroo off of our dietary list)

Other than wandering, there wasn't a tremendous amount of sightseeing to do in Brisbane proper (we went to see the Dr Zhivago musical one evening- not exactly the quintessential Aussie experience but good fun nonetheless). All recommendations from the BBH staff seemed to involve leaving Brisbane but it would probably be a good place to chill once you got your head around $5 coffees and $8 beers (even at a hostel??). Unfortunately I think my lasting memories from Australia might be how expensive everything seemed to be (although we're being warned that PNG makes Australia look like a bargain shop).

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