Australia Blog 15
A routine on a rest day of sorting my laundry was followed by toasting some bagels I’d bought the night before. Hotels ‘work’ but they are mainly rooms. At a hostel there are more facilities at a better prices. The Kookaburra Inn rated highly on my Hostelworld App. It deserved it.
The bike’s been brilliant over the 1,000 miles but I needed some adjustment on the gears. I rang a bike shop and they said just ‘drop in’. This I duly did. The short distance from the hostel was balanced by the enormous short sharp hills I had to deal with. Parts of Brisbane remind me of San Francisco with the rises and falls. At the bike shop I got talking to another waiting customer, Brian. He was familiar with Cairns and was shortly to go back on holiday up there. As I left he stopped me. “Don’t forget to put on your helmet” or you’ll be “chipped” by the police. In Australia it’s compulsory to wear a helmet when cycling. I think you should always wear a helmet when cycling but I’m doubtful it’s a good use of police time.
With the gears adjusted (they removed two links and adjusted the rear mech) I returned to deposit the bike at the hostel and set off on foot to find a ferry. This I found…. it was free! I was intending to ride it all around the river but only managed one stop to South Bank.
Here I strolled around looking at some of the sights and enjoying the ambience amongst the shade of the trees. Had I been in the city longer I might have investigated the history more thoroughly. It’s currently a city of 2 million people.
Predictably in the early 19th Century this settlement on a coastal river was a British penal colony. This status was brief before ‘free settlers’ moved in. The names comes from the surname of a NSW Governor. However, It was hardly all British settlers. The Germans and Chinese came in numbers. The Chinese never enjoyed equal rights and there were laws limiting immigration and imposing financial penalties on sea captains who breached the quotas. It’s quite surprising to understand how the Chinese have been a significant economic generator in the 19th Century British Empire. This might be Hong Kong, Canada or Australia. I’m sure there will be other places.
Each Australian Wikipedia entry talks of European immigration and colonisation. However the Aborigines were here for 20,000 years before. There are hundreds of tribes: hardly surprising given the size of the country.
Signage does attempt to give recognition to the First Nation’s territories. I noted this was very strong around Sydney Harbour. The world moved on quickly and these histories appear to be nothing but a ‘foot note’.
Having contacted the ‘Tour Wildlife Consultant’ prior to arrival he rang to arrange lunch. He thought it appropriate to celebrate St Patrick’s Day. I had a great grandmother from Rossclare and am happy to raise a glass. He knew of a city centre Irish pub. I’m rather partial to a drop of Guinness and so this was fine by me.
Karl arrived and we spent a very pleasant couple of hours imbibing and shooting the breeze.
Anna and I met Karl earlier in 2019 on a group tour of Sri Lanka. We’d stayed in touch. Karl unfortunately received a poor consolation prize when his trip to Nepal (next week) was cancelled due to coronavirus: meeting me! Karl is still a policeman although retirement calls. His overseas forays of late have been prolific, not bad for a boy from Barrow-in-Furness. He left the UK when he was eighteen and home is definitely Queensland. Having Karl as a contact in Australia has been a great support to me and it was good to share a pint.
Karl was very keen to address my comments about his fellow countrymen’s reluctance to give me a drink. Karl did this plus bought me lunch. Very kind. However I think it’s his British genes that led to this generosity rather than being a Queenslander. Mind you, this wasn’t all positive. Cumbrians seem to have a need to brag about their wealth….
When I got to the bar I discovered he’d picked a pub serving pints at AU$13 or £6.50 a go? Hopefully Karl will get to Yorkshire in August (we’re not sure which year given the virus) and when he does we’ll sadly fail to match the beautiful weather but the beer will definitely be cheaper!
From here I meandered back to the hostel to try and work out my exit route of Brisbane. If it was as difficult as getting in then it would be tough.