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Archive for the ‘Brisbane’ Category

We were waiting in Brisbane to go to North Stradbroke Island but wanted to go when it was sunny. Unfortunately for us instead of getting sunny the weather decided to chuck it down. It hammered it down for three days solid. The campsite was not set up for it and had minimal drains which meant that the ground flooded.

We were sitting in our tent and started to feel water coming through the bottom of the tent. It was only a little bit but we were definitely getting wet. We decided the leg it with our sleeping bags into the car. We managed to keep everything dry apart from us. We spent the next two nights sleeping nice and dry in the car.

The Australians don’t seem to know what to do when it rains. They react in the same way as the Brits do when it snows. Everything grinds to a stop and people drive like idiots. People give the excuse that its raining so they can’t get to work. Its crazy!

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When we were back home at the start of the year I managed to track down one of my old childhood friends on Facebook.  We soon had an on-line catchup and I found out that she now lives in Brisbane!  The hassles of buying a car got in the way of our plans to meet up when Ruth and I flew back to Oz but this time we managed it. I hadn’t seen Beth for about 15 years or so and it was great to catch up properly over dinner.

This time around we decided to finish off the museum that we previously abandoned when our first car deal fell through.  The museum was very good and had exhibitions on Queensland (as the state is now 150 years old) and wildlife.  It also had an excellent collection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artifacts to compliment its interesting but quite sad history of the people and what happened to them when the Europeans turned up.

For a change we decided to take a trip out of the city to Mount Coot-tha which has some stunning views from the top as well as lots of scenic lookouts on the drive around it.  At the bottom of Mt Coot-tha is a planetarium which had some amazing displays as well as a special weekly show on which we signed up for.  The show was an excellent trip around the stars that were currently visible before taking us through our solar system and beyond.  After the show we decided that we liked the view from Mt Coot-tha so much during the day that we’d go back up to see it at night it.  It was worth it.

Back in the city Ruth and I went to two of the major sites in Brisbane, the botanical gardens and city hall.  Brisbane city hall is a city icon and an impressive building with a reasonably long history (for an Australian building).

City Hall

City Hall

The highlight was taking the old lift up the clock tower where we watched the bells chime midday.  Very loud.  We then went onto the botanic gardens which we had also visited on the previous night to look for possums.  The possum hunt was very successful as we saw loads and they were very used to people with one coming right up to Ruth to see if her foot was food or not!  During the day the gardens are busy but a welcome respite from the busier city.  It is quite easy to forget that you are surrounded by several million people whilst taking in the views.  We had a picnic lunch by the ponds watching all the birds, fish and even a little freshwater turtle going about their day.

On our final day in Brisbane I finally did the thing I wanted to do since we arrived – go to the XXXX brewery!  I booked myself on a tour where I found out the history of XXXX beer drink and brand before being taken around the brewery.  Apparently the thing that makes XXXX different is the fifth ingredient: sugar.

XXXX House

XXXX House

This gives the beer that sweeter taste and makes it a bit lighter and so ideal for Queensland’s tropical climate.  At the end of the tour came my favourite bit, the free drinks!  As well as the standard XXXX drinks (lager and bitter – which is just a darker lager) I tried XXX.  XXX is only sold at the brewery bar as it wasn’t all that popular.  That’s a shame as it’s one of the nicer beers I’ve had over here as it was more like an ale.  I also tried a stout that they brewed there but it was horrible!

As soon as the tour finished, Ruth picked me up and we headed on our way up to the Sunshine Coast.  After a few beers my navigating may not have been at its best but we got there in the end and I even managed to stay awake for the whole journey!

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So.  We’re in Brisbane.  Again.  This time though we’re not going near the airport and we already have a car and so we can just enjoy the city.  One of the main things I wanted to do was go climbing. I had tried on our previous visit to Brisbane but for one reason and another had been unable to go. This time I was really keen to make it happen. I rang the climbing club from Burleigh heads and booked myself in.

Two hours after arriving back in Brisbane we were at the climbing cliffs. The climbing in Brisbane is at Kangaroo Point on the Brisbane river. The cliffs are open to the public however a club goes every Wednesday night from 6pm and you can pay to join in. As I didn’t have any of my kit this was my only option.

I had never climbed at night before and thought that it was strange that they climb after dark however I was informed that the gentle flood lighting makes it possible and you don’t really notice the difference. I thought I would give it a go and it would be a couple of firsts in one – my first Australian climb and my first night climb.

I am not sure what the rock was and nobody was able to tell me. It was sharp in places but was polished on the areas that were well climbed. I did three climbs and was exhausted by the end. I am obviously out of practise. The climbs were quite difficult in places which I liked as it really made me think. They were a picture of Australian grades from 15-17. Not sure what that means in real money.

Climbing at Kangaroo Point

Climbing at Kangaroo Point

Climbing with the city of Brisbane as a back drop was amazing. I would be climbing and concentrating on what I was doing then I would get to a ledge for a breather look around and remember where I was. I could then gaze on the amazing city landscape all lit up while catching my breath. On one of the climbs when I got to the top there was a fruit bat flying above my head. I loved it!

Climbing at night was weird. The flood lighting worked a little bit but you couldn’t really look at the rock and see where the moves were as there were too many shadows to detect the detail. The flood lighting was behind you which meant that you cast a shadow on the rock. I couldn’t see my feet which was very strange. It was definitely an experience though.

I am really looking forward to my next Australian climb, hopefully the next one will be a day time one.

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This time around we have decided to take the no messing approach and get straight on the road, so we needed to buy a car. We knew that buying a car was different depending on which state the car was from but we never realised just how complicated it was. It took a lot to get our heads round each state’s rules about selling, buying, registering as well as all of the safety and roadworthy certificates. We are now experts on how to register, buy and sell a car in most states in Australia!

We viewed a lot of cars and nearly bought a couple, but didn’t as the owners were trying to do it illegally or go back on the deal for a higher price (insert your choice of expletive here – Jo).  After a week and half we saw a car we liked that was legal and within the budget. The guy was really nice and allowed us to get a mechanic to check the car. She came back with a near clean bill of health (about $60 worth of repairs). We were happy and so was the seller so we bought her.

She is a Ford Falcon station wagon (estate to all us Poms) built in ’92 and has a fair few Ks on the clock but is in good condition mechanically. We went with a Ford Falcon as all the taxi drivers swear buy them and the parts are easily available and cheap even in remote areas. A station wagon also allows us to sleep in the back (Jo fits even when stretched out!) to save some $$$. The engine is big (4 litres) and it has an automatic gearbox which is taking a bit of getting used to but we are absolutly loving the freedom that it gives us and are very excited about taking her on a road trip.

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Brisbane Take 2

Brisbane is known for being a quite, sleepy, country city. Although clearly still a city it is easy to understand why this is the case. There are lots of people but they are not rushing around like maniacs. The landscaping of the city is excellent and there are lots of areas that are very green, peaceful and relaxing. In the heart of the city runs the river and commuters can choose to commute to work on the ferry rather than being stuck in traffic. We explored the river this way one day which was heaps cheaper than a river cruise and covered the same area, it was a lovely was to explore. Different areas of the city and completely different to one another and some don’t feel like a city at all. One day we went shopping with our friends in the vintage/ antique area of Paddington and it was like being in a rural country town. Each area has its own market from farmers markets to bric a braq which makes for a positive community spirit. There are lots of trendy relaxed cafe type areas however they don’t seem stuck up and the people are very relaxed.

Streets beach

Streets beach

We enjoyed escaping the shopping area and business district and relaxing in many of the parks and gardens that surround Brissie from Roma street, South bank, Streets beach and the botanical gardens. Wildlife is abundant in these parks and we continually saw lizards, bats, birds and heard the rustling of possums. We even saw our first possum walk straight across our friends’ balcony when we were staying with them for a few days.

As well as the gardens Brisbane also offers lots of cultural experiences for free, from the museum of Queensland which has some amazing exhibits and numerous art galleries displaying Australian, Aboriginal and European art works. We’re looking forward to checking these out.

We are not that keen on cities but for a city Brissbane was very green, cultural and pretty. Our favourite part so far is the Roma Street Parkland. For some reason it is not in our guide book but looked nice as we walked past so we took a look. It turned out to be the only urban rainforest area in the world and was a beautiful area. It consisted of the small rainforest area, a lake, some formal gardens and other grassy areas. It was being used by all locals and was a real tranquil spot in the heart of the CBD (Central Business District). We spent a while in there just relaxing as well as wastching watching the people and wildlife. It was a really beautiful area and such a surprise.

Ruth visiting the natives in Roma Street Parkland

Ruth visiting the natives in Roma Street Parkland

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Back in Oz!

We have landed in Australia again into the city of Brisbane. We did not get a chance to look around Brisbane last time so it should be good to explore it more this time. We have to get a car first! It is lovely being back in Australia. The weather is like an English summer day reaching 25 but cool in the shade and chilly in the evening. The Aussies are all in trousers and jumpers but we are still in shorts. It is actually quite homely to be back and everything seems so much easier this time, the money, the food shopping, hostel living. So much more relaxing than Singapore. I can’t wait to get on the road.

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For our final day in Singapore we went to the Botanic Gardens.  We saved this ’til the last day as it was something we were really looking forward to and we thought it would be nice to spend time outdoors before another long flight.

Ruth in the Botanic Gardens

Ruth in the Botanic Gardens

Getting to the gardens was easy as the bus went from just over the road from our hostel and got us there in 20 minutes.  Ruth’s knee was a bit tired from all the walking we’d done so far and so when we arrived we sat down by the big lake for a while. 

Botanic Gardens Waterfall

Botanic Gardens Waterfall

I then went off bird and dragonfly watching and left Ruth to rest for a bit.  It was a scorcher of a day as the sun was out for the first time and I ended up with a nice bit of sunburn.

As we walked around the garden we got deafened by these insects that screeched really loudly, I managed to find one to take a picture but I have no idea what it was!  The gardens were quite big and split up into sections for all the different flowers and greenery.  Our favourite parts were the lake, bamboo forests, the waterfall in the ginger garden and the National Orchid Garden.  This had a huge variety of orchids in including the national flower of Singapore.  We enjoyed looking around it but it was even hotter than the rest of the gardens!

After downing lots of water we headed back to Little India to take in the sites before we had to leave for the airport.  It was a great place and so different from the other areas of Singapore.  The streets were busy with tourists and local men (no local women at all) and we walked around looking at all the buildings and temples.  We then headed to the Arab Quarter where the impressive Sultan Mosque is.  Unfortunately we then had to head back to the hostel where we had a quick shower before checking out.  We caught the MRT to the airport, checked into our flight without any problems, grabbed some food and in no time we were boarding.

The flight to Oz went really quick as we both slept for most of it.  It’s early in the morning here in Brisbane and it’s great to be back (and out of the humidty).  Now it’s time to get to our hostel.

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