Brisbane Walkabout


Brisbane

Goanna in Brisbane's Botanical Garden

Goanna in Brisbane’s Botanical Garden

Brisbane is an attractive, stress free, and friendly city where we began our months long journey across Australia.  The Brisbane River winds through the city, the capital of Queensland on Australia’s NE coast 14 miles from the Pacific Ocean. The city has a modern and classy appearance with high-rise office buildings in city center and modern suburban apartments and homes with impressive views of Brisbane’s skyline.  

High-rise office building in Brisbane financial center

High-rise office building in Brisbane financial center

Brisbane skyline

Brisbane skyline

We’d booked a quaint B&B, Annie’s Sheldon Inn, which proved to be ideal; located in center city, across from a bus stop with free service, and a ten minute walk to Queen Street Mall, a busy pedestrian mall that stretches from City Hall to the Victoria Bridge over the Brisbane River.

Bats falling from the sky

Australia was in the midst of a blistering heat wave when we arrived the first week in January.  The papers and TV reported mid 40 C (110  F) temperatures across the nation, with the hottest locations in South Australia with temperature reaching 48.6 degrees C (128 F).  The heat was so oppressive, bats were falling out of the sky.  One town was left with the unenviable job of having city workers scoop dead bats into plastic bags and deposit in containers for disposal (burial? incineration?).

The kitten sized bats, which are protected indigenous animals, are  Fur Headed Flying Foxes.  They swoop through the air and roost in trees, hanging upside down, screeching like banshees, flapping their wings to keep cool.  On earlier trips, we had seen flying foxes hanging from bare branches they’d stripped for food.  They leave messes in parks, on sidewalks and cars and are generally considered pests. Quite nasty looking, actually.

Botanical Garden

Brisbane Botanical Garden

Brisbane Botanical Garden

After orienting on free inner city buses and ferry for a couple of days, we ventured out to explore the city.  It was a sweltering 41 degrees C, and most people were huddled in air-conditioned buildings or sweating in the shade in parks.  We walked 30 minutes in the stifling heat to the Botanical Garden along a bend in the Brisbane River.

Bunya pines at Botanical Garden

Bunya pines at Botanical Garden

Bunya pine description

Bunya pine description

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We leisurely strolled past lagoons, ponds, and groves of tropical plants, flowers, and trees.

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Ibis

Ibis

The gardens are home to heron-like white ibis with black heads and tails and curved black bills.  Ibis are interesting, ancient looking birds like something you’d see carved on Egyptian temples or tombs.

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Goanna on the trail

Don't move or I'll crawl up your leg

Don’t move or I’ll crawl up your leg

We came upon a goanna along a wooded path, who looked like he was deciding if he was going to dash into the bushes or let us pass.  We tip toed around him; he didn’t move, but stared at us with steely eyes.

The Botanical Garden ends in a mangrove trees along the Brisbane River.

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Edge of mangroves on Brisbane River

Edge of mangroves on Brisbane River

South Bank Parklands

South Parklands gardens

South Parklands gardens

We picked up the free ferry at Riverside Center near the financial center with outdoor cafes, bars and restaurants on the river bank.  The ferry took us to the South Bank Parklands, a pleasant place to stroll and enjoy views of the city across the river.  The parklands feature flowering gardens, ponds, sandy beached swimming lagoons, and winding walkways shaded with flowering bougainvillea.

Swimming lagoon at South Bank Parklands

Swimming lagoon at South Bank Parklands

Nepalese Pagoda

Nepalese Pagoda

Nepalese Pagoda

One of the most attractive sites at South Bank was the Nepalese garden with wooden walkways across ponds that led to a teak Nepalese Pagoda.  The pagoda was a spiritual center with an open-air medication room, ceremonial bell and beautiful carvings on walls, doors, and pillars.

Ceremonial bell at Nepalese Pagoda

Ceremonial bell at Nepalese Pagoda

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Carvings on Nepalese pagoda

Carvings on Nepalese pagoda

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South Bank Parklands

South Bank Parklands

A prominent landmark in the Parklands is the Brisbane Wheel, a giant ferris wheel near Victoria bridge and the city’s cultural center.

Brisbane Wheel

Brisbane Wheel

The complex has several attractive buildings with theaters for performing arts, a museum, art gallery, and state library.  The cultural center was very impressive.  Admission was free.  We wandered through the museum which had interesting exhibits about Queensland history and culture, and most importantly, it was air conditioned!

Water Dragons

Water dragon

Water dragon

While we were enjoying lunch at an outdoor Italian cafe, water dragons lurked nearby to see if we would drop crumbs.  Steely eyed like the goanna, they stared at us blankly, still, until I dropped bits of mushroom, onion, or green pepper from our pizza.   They gobbled them up but didn’t blink at pizza crusts however, picky fellows.

Steely-eyed fellow

Steely-eyed fellow

Friendly blokes

People in Brisbane were friendly and helpful, from the bus driver who dropped us at the door of our B & B to the host and hostess, Ruben and Gloria, and a delightful British chap, Rod Crane, who charmed us with tales of his adventurous travels, biking and swaging (sleeping on a bedroll with no tent) all over Australia, including the remote Northern Territories and York peninsula in northern Queensland.  Rod has taken a camel caravan across the Sahara with a band of Berbers, and sailed on freighters and fishing boats on the south Pacific.  He travels very light, one small bag with a aluminum bike, and a backpack.

British friend, Rod Crane, adventure traveler

British friend, Rod Crane, adventure traveler

How  hot is it, Lucy?

How hot is it, Lucy?

* * * * *

Next:  Fraser Island on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast

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6 responses to “Brisbane Walkabout

    • You should plan a trip Down Under, Jim. You’d love the beauty and charm of Australia and the interesting flora and fauna.

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  1. How nice to see such a great report on my home town. I’m glad I wasn’t there for the heat wave. I will be home in 2 weeks. I hope it is all over by then.
    Enjoy your time in Australia.

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    • We loved our three days in your hometown, Debra. More adventures ahead. We loved our trip to Australia and New Zealand in ’12 and had to return.

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  2. Great pictures and prose. Looks like you’re having the time of your lives. hope to touch bases when you return.
    Karern & Fred

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    • Great to hear from you Karen. We had such a fun time in Australia in ’12 that had to return for more adventures. Just returned from Daintree Rainforest and croc cruise, going out on three day dive trip tomorrow on the GBR. Stay tuned for underwater photos and videos.

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