Meeting old Friends
Brisbane is Australia’s third largest city and the capital of Queensland. I’d been here before and stayed in a hostel about a mile out of town. This time I was located in an apartment, with kitchen, in the Central Business District with my ‘Business Class’ buddy who never ‘slums’ it.
It was handy being so centrally located as everything we wanted to do and see was nearby. The next morning itinerary priorities were set and Anna marched off to have her nails done! This released me to find a record shop and I happily flicked through the second hand LP’s looking for treasure. I intend to write a separate blog about visiting record stores abroad. I have something to say, elsewhere. Central Brisbane is ordinarily busy with tourists and many young folk, in fact there are 100,000 students in the city at three universities. Many of the students live and study in the centre of the city. It inevitably gives it a vibe and late night buzz.
I wanted to cross the Brisbane river and visit the South Bank Parklands, it was a highlight last time I came. This is a curated area with animals, swimming pools, rainforest, restaurants and children’s play areas. It’s delightful.
You needed to have swimming pools in this area to prevent anybody going into the river. Bull sharks lurk within and are flesh eaters. The good news is that as humans are not their usual lunch they will probably break off after tasting the menu. Clearly not a game you’d want to play however. There are 3,000 up and down the river.
There was much to admire and see. The scale is big and modern. However despite the restoration of 19th Century buildings it seemed, to me, a nonsense to then bury the artefacts in the midst of glass and steel skyscrapers. Was it ‘lip service’ to the planners and conservationists whilst the developers and money makers got their way? Sadly much of this development seems similar to the Far East where there seems to be no sentimentality about architectural history and an appetite for mixing concrete in every increasing quantities. One could argue this happens everywhere, including central London, but it seems very aggressive in Brisbane.
After visiting the far river bank we got one of the free ferries back to our side and disembarked at ‘Riverside’. It was here later we met Katie and Matt for drinks and a meal. Matt is an Aussie but Katie is not! She’s a close friend of our Favourite Youngest. Katie’s been known to our family for about 25 years. She started and finished school with Sophie (and Katrina). The inevitable happened that after a year out Down Under she found someone and has decided to stay. In order to secure her visa she’s had to spend into four figures and submit endless documents and links to social media to demonstrate the veracity of her relationship and intention to stay with it. She awaiting the result about a long term residency.
One of the beauties of this climate are the evenings. Sitting outside in the warm balmy evening is a true pleasure.
We often take a city walking tour on our holidays and Anna arranged one with the ‘Brisbane Greeters’: a group of volunteers who give up their time, for free, to show tourists around. John was our guide, a mere sprog at 83 years old, and a font of all knowledge. He’d been born in England but arrived in Australia in 1948; he knew his way around. The website said no tipping was expected? This seemed hard given the four hours he led us.
What is obvious is the dramatic growth of Brisbane in terms of population and development over the last couple of decades. The ambition of the city holds no bounds and they’ve secured the 2032 Olympic Games. Quite why you’d want to host it isn’t something I can understand but I’m sure it’ll go well and be a success. Melbourne held the games in 1956, Sydney in 2000 and maybe Brisbane felt it should have a turn?
In the evening our cultural journey continued with attendance at the rugby league derby between the Dolphins and the Broncos.
The Dolphins are a newly formed team and Karl, our man in the city and much mentioned throughout my blogs organised the tickets. It was a wonderful occasion in the balmy evening in a world class stadium.
We were amongst 51,000 fans who irrespective of their allegiance sat together and roared their men on loudly. We were Dolphin fans as Karl’s daughter’s partner plays for the Dolphins (but was absent on the night with injury.) The NRL is the most competitive and highest quality league in the world and it was quite something to enjoy the aggressive rugby and match day experience with light shows, flares, dancing and trumpet solos!
It was super to meet up with Karl and he’ll be back in the UK next month before a trip to the onward flight to the USA to go down Route 66.
The next morning we got an early bus to the airport for the last of our Australian destinations, Sydney. A big shout out to the quality of public transportation in the city, easy and cheap.