Brisbane weather was not particularly kind to us. A four night stop and we only had one day of sunshine.
We spent the sunny day on the beach – yes, a beach in a city. Streets Beach is a man-made beach overlooking the river. It is bizarre but it fitted the laid back vibe that is Brisbane. It was a Friday and we were bemused by a group of young people, complete with school uniforms who decided to go swimming – some of them in their clothes. Why we wondered? Apparently it was the Friday before ‘Schoolies Week’ and this group of young people had finished their final exams. It is a week of revelry and high jinks and no doubt copious amounts of alcohol.
One of my ambitions when in Australia was to cuddle a koala. They are not bears we were told but marsupials. We booked the river trip to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary and on the journey there were regaled with a tale of murder (Alderman Patrick Mayne’s deathbed confession), the history of the University of Queensland and its links with the said murderer, and the catastrophic effect of floods. What a hospitable place to be!
The rain became torrential at Lone Pine and a brown paper bag full of kangaroo food soon became sodden and disintegrated in my hands. I paid my $20 and lined up with equally drenched tourists to have my photograph taken with a koala. This was my real life encounter with Tingha or was it Tucker?
Before we came to Australia everyone warned me of deadly spiders and snakes. On leaving the Sanctuary we saw a snake in a tree. It was asleep. No danger.
Wherever you go in the world there is always someone from the North East. Brisbane was no exception. A man from Sunderland at Streets Beach, there for the forthcoming Ashes. An invitation to the home of a school friend of my nephew’s introduced us to a mini community of Morpethians. People who seized the opportunity to make a better life for themselves and their families on the other side of the world but who still hold their love for Northumberland in their hearts.
Brisbane has some beautiful old buildings but like other cities they are dwarfed by growing office blocks or in some cases demolished. It is sad to see once great buildings reduced to bystanders to progress.
And just to remind us it was nearly Christmas. Lights.
Next stop Hamilton Island and the Great Barrier Reef.