Brisbane - A place with it All!

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November 30th 2015
Published: December 1st 2015
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It was a typical day in Melbourne the morning of my flight, what with sun, wind and rain. It really had been a mixed bag, but I'd had a fantastic time. The remainder of my time in Australia would be spent in the state of Queensland, more specifically Brisbane. This time I'm glad to say, I was firing on all cylinders with no issues at the Airport and my flight landing 10 minutes early. I even got a fantastic view of the Gold Coast whilst on my way. I stepped off the plane and there it was, the heat. If felt amazing and I was instantly recharged to take on this new City. I'd booked to stay in a little place located just outside the CBD in the suburb of Spring Hill. I dropped my stuff and went for a wander. There appeared to be lots of things for me to get stuck into in Brisbane including a few treats after a visit to the Tourist Information. With those added extras in mind I decided to do a small food shop and cook at least a few times this week after gorging myself on the goodies, Victoria had to offer. The following day I meandered through the centre and ended up outside City Hall. A beautiful historical building with a dominating Clock Tower shrouded by modern sky scrapers. As luck would have it, you could visit the clock tower and even better it was gratis. It had been the tallest building in Brisbane upto the 1960's and even pocessed a red beacon on top to warn light aircrafts. It still had the original lift cage which we rode in to access the tower which stands at 76m. Given its location there's not much of a view now, but I enjoyed a nose. Inside the City Hall was the museum of Brisbane so after doing the Clock Tower I went in. It wasn't huge but contained some very interesting Art exhibitions and displays. One of the artists, Robyn Stacey created an exhibition entitled 'Cloud Land' who had used the Camera Obscura technique to take images of the external reflected on the internal surface in nearby rooms. This resulted in fascinating photos. The other was when a local artist, Stephen Nothling with the exhibit aptly named ' The Last Street in Highgate Hill' who observed the comings and goings in his own street over a year and captured it in oil. I thought these were really funky and looked amazing on display. From there, I wanted to view the Brisbane River which winds its way through the city and is the natural divide for many areas. I crossed over the Victoria Bridge to South Bank and got my first glimpse of this vast structure. There had been a section about the 'River' in the museum through a short film showing its source at Mount Stanley and the mouth at Moreton Bay. It covers a distance of 214 miles (344km) making it the longest in the south east region of Queensland. South Bank housed the Cultural Centre, South Bank Parklands and City Beach. This was a truely beautiful place to walk through that edged the river. Hitting the Cultural Centre first, I decided a trip to the theatre might be a nice way to end my austrailian chapter. I was very lucky as the show they had on, I had wanted to see for some time. It was 'Les Miserables' booked for Tuesday 1st December at 6:30pm in the Lyric Theatre. I was so excited! Continuing on my journey through the Parklands area I passed the 'Wheel of Brisbane' and entered into a Bourgainvillea covered walkway. Metal structures of tendrils had been created for this fantastic plant to climb up and the result was spectacular. The sun shone and the pink radiated from the flowers. It was gorgeous, however unbeknown to me, the best was yet to come, the path led straight to 'City Beach'. A manmade little oasis of sand and water that mimicked a beach setting, bolstered the edge of the river with glorious views of the CBD, that filled the skyline. It was a fantastic place to get away from it all and unbelieveably still be in walking distance. It was full of people of all ages, locals and tourists making the most of this little haven. Brisbane really did appear to have it all. I continued through the South Bank area until I got to the City Hopper terminal where I boarded the free ferry and made my way to Story Bridge Adventure Climb centre. I hadn't realised there are only three bridges in the world that you can climb to the top of, namely the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Auckland Bridge and Story Bridge in Brisbane. Given I completed the other two when I visited 8 years ago, I just had to complete the hat trick seen as I was here. I decided on a twilight session for the following day and was looking forward to the views that I would have being 80m above sea level. I'd had a productive day but it wasnt over yet. I jumped back on the ferry and made my way 'home' as it were, to get ready for an evening out with Kimberly and Brendan who I'd met in Turkey, on the same trip as Wennie. It would be great to catch up with them and pick their brains on what not to miss. We met at Eagle Street Pier, an area renowned for good food. We ate in a place called Jelly Fish which sat at the River's edge with views across to the Story Bridge which was now lit up green and red to signify Christmas was on its way. The food was delicious with me trying Mahi Mahi (common Dolphin) fish with a Nori (seaweed) beurre blanc sauce accompanied with creamed potatoes and green beans with flaked almonds in a mild chilly dressing. The fish was especially good as it had a strong favour and meaty texture, all washed down with a Reisling from Margaret River. For dessert, we wandered into the CBD to a little Gelato parlour Kimberly knew of. I opted for a coffee and creme caramel mix. It was really good. We continued back towards the City Hall, where I'd started my adventure, that morning only this time, the solar powered Christmas tree located outside had been switched on earlier that evening and was now illuminating the surrounding area. It was really impressive, stood at just over 18m with 16,000 lights and was Queensland's biggest. If it hadn't have been so hot and me trying desperately to eat my ice cream before it melted, it really would have started to feel alot like Christmas. I'm sure there's a song in there somewhere! 😉 Even the City Hall, the Christmas Tree's backdrop was also illuminated red and green. The following day, Kimberly had kindly offered to show me some of the sites outside of the CBD with us first visiting Natural Bridge nestled in a peaceful hinterland close to the Queensland/New South Wales Border. It is located in the Springbrook National Park and is part of the Gondwana Rainforests which has World heritage status for its exceptional biodiversity. There was a short walk through the rainforest to reach the basalt rock arch and cave which is the result of thousands of years of erosion. The cascading waterfall into it, made for a spectacular scene. I could even see microbats flying about in the cave once my eyes adjusted to the semi darkness. From there we headed towards Tambourine Mountain where I had fantastic views of the land beyond. I could see lush areas of green, as far as my eyes could see with silohettes of mountains in the distance all rolling into one another, almost in a wave pattern. It was simply beautiful and I was quite taken aback, of how much it reminded me of home. We stopped for lunch in Fortitude Brewery. I ordered a steak on the bone which was really tasty and perfectly cooked for my liking, with it seared on both sides and still 'mooing' in the middle! It was quite sizeable but as always I rose to the challenge where food is concerned and devoured the lot. On completetion, we made our way to the hub of Tambourine where we took a look in some of the very ecclectic shops. Although, I couldn't believe it, they had a totally 'Gluten Free' Cafe. I was still completely stuffed but went in anyway, to see what they had to offer. It all looked really nice with a good selection of sweet and savoury. That will teach me not to order half a cow for lunch! 😊 Anyway moving on, I did falter at the Specialist Chocolate shop leaving with a small dark chocolate frog as the cherry on top of what had been an impromptu lovely day. We headed back mid afternoon and picked up Brendan where we had a final drink together before I started my Bridge Climb. We stopped at a small cafe located on top of the cliffs at Kangaroo Point which gave the complete view of the CBD showing its full expanse in all its glory. The sky had darkened and the wind slightly had picked up, the atmosphere humid as if a storm was brewing. Bloody Typical, I thought as I'd opted for a twilight tour to view the wonderful colours created from the sun going down behind the CBD. This was going to be no different to the bloody 'Rock'!!! Anyway I bid farewell to Kimberly and Brendan and headed in, to the start point of my climb. I'd had a dry day as it were, booze wise as I knew I was going to be breathalysed....again! Only in my life as this ever been for Australian tourist attractions! Good news, my years of consumption did not show, 😉 so after getting kitted out in an overall, attached raincoat, harness and hat (just in case the Magpies started to attack), I was ready to get going. It was so hot I decided to take my chances without the hat, but the higher we climbed a welcome breeze set in. It hadn't started to rain but was looking more and more likely then luckily came a break in the clouds where we got a glimpse of the sunlight streaming through. It looked very atmospheric and gave a great view of Brisbane and its surrounds. The climb itself was considerably easy and didn't bring with it the scariness or wow factor that both Sydney and Auckland had done previously. I don't know whether this because I had changed or the other walks just brought something else to the table. I just knew I had probably completed them in the order I'd rank them as attractions. However, it was nice to be able to check all Bridge walks to the top of the structure off my Bucket List as I'd completed the World's offering of them to date. As I left the centre after completing the walk, I could feel a few drops of rain starting but luckily didn't come to anything. It had been another full day of catching up with friends and forfilling personal goals. I was ready to kick back and chill, gearing up for more adventure the following day. I was up early, next morning as I had made plans to meet up with Izzy and Dan after they contacted me two days before, when they realised I was in Brisbane. This was the couple, I had travelled with on a 3 day adventure tour taking in Kakudu and Litchfield. My life of travel was getting more surreal by the day with me randomly meeting up with friends in all countries and places that we didn't live in, for a catch up over coffee. I loved the fact this could happen and I was beginning to see how easy it was to make arrangements on the hoof, without having plans in place and everything mapped out in front of me. I was glad I had taken the advice from other travellers, that its good to have an outline, but not to over plan as there are things you could miss out on. We had a great catch up with us all filling each other in, on what we had been upto, since we last met. Unbelievelably, it had been well over a month ago, that we'd travelled together and it was great to pick up were we'd left off. The same had happened for my evening plans that day with Katherine contacting me from the same trip, after reading my blog. So when we met up that evening, I brought along Izzy and Dan for the four of us to have a get together in the Pig and Whistle Pub looking out onto the Christmas Tree. Before I caught up with them that night, there was one place I was desperate to visit after Christian (friend from home, I caught up with in Adelaide) had mentioned there was a 'Merthyr Bowls Club' in Brisbane. My curiosity peaked, as I live very close to Merthyr Tydfil at home and needed to find out the back story to this place. It is located in the precinct of New Farm, so I jumped on the City Hopper ferry and got off at Sydney Street Terminal. My research had shown the 'Bowls Club' was situated next to the river, so I decided to take the route through the surrounding parkland to get there. Within minutes of disembarking, I found my answer as I entered into 'Merthyr Park'. Merthyr Park, has been so named since 1936 based on a house that adjoined it, built by Sir Samuel Griffith, Chief Justice and Premier, who entitled his home 'Merthyr' after his birthplace 'Merthyr Tydfil' in Wales. He was born in Merthyr Tydfil on the 21st June 1845 and emigrated here along with his family after his father, an Independent Minister received an invitation from the Colonial Missionary Society. He led an eventful life and was a key spokesman with regards to crime and punishment measures. Given the lack of welsh I have met in Australia compared to other nationalities of the United Kingdom, it is fantastic to see a place, named after somewhere at home. It certainly doesn't look like the Merthyr I know, what with its tropical tree lined streets, although the welcome was the same when I grabbed a Cider at the Bowl's Club. Welcoming, smiley and relatively cheap compared with the surrounding areas. 😊 It even made me smile, when I glimpsed a local Bus with 'Merthyr Buz via City-Valley' on it. I wandered through this area just enjoying seeing a familiar place name on the signs with me completing my walk along Merthyr Road and spotting a Vue Cinema sign, which is exactly like home!!! On heading back, I walked along the River board walk which is now a solid feature, after the original one got swept away in the last flood. It was really hot today and even I needed to take five before heading back out to meet the others. I got showered and ready to leave, grabbing my umbrella just in case. The sky looked black but I'd seen this before and it hadn't really come to much. Within minutes of leaving, the heaven's opened and there was nowhere to run, the driving rain had caused the back of me to get soaked through to my underwear in a matter of minutes. Oddly I loved it, I hadn't seen a good rain shower for months and this was certainly that. Then the thunder and lightening joined in, rumbling around the towers of the city. I continued to our agreed meeting point as there was nothing I could do, my umbrella took a pasting and the floor soon became submerged in water. My shoes were soaking along with most of me by the time I arrived. It was worth it. Soaking wet, I continued onto the Pub with the others. It had started to subside, with the temperature never dropping. As we caught up in the Pub, I dried off a little with the heat. It had stopped raining for me to walk back, luckily as the only place my umbrella was now fit for, was the bin. This had been my first glimpse of wet season rain which was short, sharp and torrential! I could easily see now how Brisbane had suffered previously from flooding as there's just no dealing with the amount of water that falls in such quick succession. It had been great catching up, with us all talking about our up coming plans for the festive season. Mine still with a massive question mark with the only guarantee I would be in New Zealand somewhere!!! It was very unusual, but I felt oddly calm about not knowing and excited about what may arise. The following day I took sometime, to ensure I had all my items required for my upcoming New Zealand arrival before heading through the Botanical Gardens and onto the City Beach to relax in the glorious weather. From there, I strolled along the Cliff Bridge route that housed many sculptures depicting movement and sport themes with a mixture of wildlife to boot, which started at the end of the South Bank and joined up with the Kangaroo Point walk. I had seen and enjoyed so many different environments in and around Brisbane, from City, to Beach, to Wetlands, to Mangrove Forests, to Parklands. It really did appear this place had everything, inclusive of a winding river running through it, with me having passed a building earlier that had highlighted its might in the past. I had really loved my time in Brisbane and for me, would have been a place that had come the closest to me picturing a life in Australia. It was big enough, interesting enough with varying environments to keep it dynamic and the food had been really good for the little I'd tried. My only reservation would be the weather, which I know sounds odd coming from me, but in the Wet season, its wet and hot and in the dry season its dry and cold!! These don't make for great combinations in my mind and for a girl, who loves the fact she's been lucky enough to witness most types of weather, enjoy the pros and the cons of four seasons and become hypnotised with long twilights, I wouldn't want to give up. Australia is an incredible country and one I would recommend to anyone to visit. The people are friendly and helpful (mostly, Alice Springs has a mind of its own 😉 ) and I have relished every second of it. I have seen landscapes and wildlife that have blown my mind. I have been in awe of the phenomenal differences each state has brought with it, even though they make up one country. I have been lucky enough to travel through such a vast land where many inhabitants haven't seen as much of it has me. It has been a tremendous three months and it wouldn't have been the same if I hadn't, have met, the people I have, through my adventure here. However the time had come, to trial real life in neighbouring country, New Zealand where work would dominate my stay with travel interspersed. Just before that, I had one evening left to enjoy in Brisbane so, I put my glad rags on for a night in the theatre to watch 'Les Miserables'. I couldn't have chosen anything better to have ended with. It was a spectacular performance with all the scene changes, costumes, voices of the cast and orchestra. I left the theatre on a high and as I walked back, I drank in my surroundings one last time because from tomorrow on, it was going to be a whole different ball game, starting in Auckland.

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1st December 2015

Austrailian Adventure
Well what can I say. I cannot believe another 3 months have passed and you're on to New Zealand! Have thoroughly enjoyed the blog (as usual) 😆 I can just imagine being there and experiencing it with you as you paint such a vivid picture. I can especially imagine your face when that seagull stole your food 😂😂 It has all sounded amazing and the pictures are wonderful. Safe travels to New Zealand where the real adventure (of work) starts 😉😉 Bxx
2nd December 2015

You are just too kind for reminding me.

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