Getting The Visa
Trip Start Aug 06, 2011
144Trip End Ongoing
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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
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).