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Published: November 20th 2015
Our time in Cairns came to an end sadly. We spent the morning packing and cleaning the house a bit and then went into town. We had planned all kinds of things to do with our last few hours, far too much to actually fit in. Instead, we went back to Rusty's markets to get some Thai food and we spent some time in a fruitless search for internet. Finally we gave up, took the hire car back and boarded the minibus to the airport. Domestic Departures was much nicer than International Arrivals. We spent a bit of time wandering the shops and then it was time to board our flight, which was slightly delayed.
The flight was both quick and pleasant and we soon disembarked in the noticeably cooler and less humid Brisbane where the sun was just starting to go down. We collected our baggage and then left the terminal, not sure of where we were going. I should explain that we were staying with some friends of Lindsey's Uncle who had graciously agreed to put us up for a few days and were even picking us up from the airport. We had never met Chris and Cheryl
and had no idea what they looked like. Eventually we managed to find them and bundled our backpacks, which were still huge despite some slimming, into their car.
We drove for about half an hour, chatting away. All I noticed about Brisbane was that it seemed both big and the traffic was busy, even on a Saturday evening. We got to their home and they had dinner waiting for us which we were so glad about.
After dinner, we went out into the city centre and they showed us the lit-up skyline which looked pretty. We also took a walk around the South Bank and soaked up the relaxed atmosphere. Here was an entertainment district with cafés, a large open air swimming pool, a giant wheel, a walk along the river and views across to the North bank of the river.
Next morning, we joined Chris and Cheryl at Brisbane's Hillsong Church. We enjoyed the service, though I found the black nightclub-esque interior design a bit off-putting. After church we were taken into the city centre and we wandered around.
First we went through the botanic gardens, which I had been looking forward to seeing. Sadly
they were very disappointing so we wandered up the main shopping streets and had a look in a few shops. Then, desperate for lunch, we headed to the South Bank again, where there was a Sunday market. On the way to the South Bank we were looking for a toilet, something which seems in short supply in Brisbane. It turned out following signs didn't help; at one point we ended up wandering around a car park at the art gallery. After walking backwards and forwards a few times we were extremely relieved to find one.
The market was also somewhat disappointing, as there was no food. There were a few nice craft stalls, but we weren't in a buying mood. There was a Chinese cafe next to the market which we settled on and had some dim sum and a proper meal too. With some food in our stomachs we now had the strength to go to the art gallery. Here we saw some Aboriginal paintings, including a set which told the sad story of the life of the artist's father who had met the queen and then been imprisoned for some minor infraction and died in prison. More
striking to me though was the collection of carved and painted Aboriginal poles. I think some were celebration poles and some were for burials. We had a quick wander through some European-style pictures of Australia and then left. It was getting late so we caught the bus home.
The next morning we left as early as we could because we had a busy day planned. This was the day I would give Lindsey her birthday present - the opportunity to cuddle a koala. We took the bus to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary and it was a long journey. By the time we got there it was very hot. I had thought that the koala sanctuary was just for koalas but it turned out there was a whole zoo of Australian animals. Over the course of the day we saw platypuses, a cassowary, dingoes, snakes and many different types of bird. The centre-piece though was a brief talk about koalas and then we all lined up to stroke one. After that I took Lindsey for the cuddle she had been promised and she was delighted to hold Hayley. We posed for our photograph to be taken. Koalas really are
as cuddly as they look. They spend most of their life docilely sleeping in trees but can become quite animated when food is around. We had lunch in the 'koala forest' where we got to observe their strange but adorable behaviour. After lunch, there was another treat in store for Lindsey, she had the opportunity to hand-feed kangaroos. We wandered over to the kangaroo paddock where we found them dozing in the shade, trying to avoid the sun. Kangaroos are most active at dusk and dawn so we found them in a very lethargic state. Despite this we saw a few hops and a couple of them ate from Lindsey's hand.
Soon, the sun had sapped our energy so we caught the bus back into town. Needing a pick-me-up we stopped at San Churro, a hot chocolate café. The rich thick chocolate hit was just what we needed. Just down the road was a bookshop which claimed to have one million books. As we were tired we didn't verify this claim but it was delightful to wander up and down the aisles of shelves.
The next day was our leaving day. It felt like we'd hardly been here
any time at all, but it also felt like we'd had a good taste of Brisbane and we could leave knowing we'd had some wonderful experiences. Chris and Cheryl had been wonderful hosts and we were really sad to say goodbye. Chris kindly took us to the station and we stood, with our huge backpacks, waiting for a train to take us to some random suburb in the North of the city where we would pick up our camper van.
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