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Andy’s Travel Diary

Sunday, 04 Jun 2006

Location: Brisbane, Australia


Iím so far behind on my blog. I must apologise to all my fans (!) who were eagerly awaiting my new posts. So here goesÖ.

Just a quick note about Surfers before i get onto the next stage of my post. The one thing i did do there apart from sunbathe and party was ascend the highest residential towers in the world (and one of the top 20 highest towers on earth) via one of the fastest elevators in the world. Itís called Q1. From the observation area one can see all the way down to Byron, and all the way up to Brisbane. From that height Surfers actually looked quite nice. It totally dominates the skyline and so one can see everything from above. The views out to sea are spectacular.

Anyway, after leaving Surfers myself, Paul (Scotland), Mirthe (Germany) and Becky No.2 (UK) arrived at Brisbane and another Australian state; this time Queensland. The others only stayed one night before heading to Noosa so i was left to explore this city by myself before meeting other backpackers later on in the week.

ĎBrisvegasí is the 3rd largest city in Australia but is a large step down from Melbourne and Sydney. Itís quite provincial and not very substantial in any sphere (art, culture, cuisine, music, etc.) as far as i could tell. In saying this Brisbane is not devoid of these attributes, merely it fails to excel at them in ways that more international Australian cities do.

To be honest Brisbane was quite boring. We stayed in Fortitude Valley at a place called Bunk backpackers (on the recommendation of a friend from Perth). This is considered by the locals to be the buzzing suburb of the city, but this statement just confirms my original statements about the place.

However, Brisbane does have a major plus point; itís my first time in a city that sits within a tropical landscape. Hence the weather we had was gorgeousÖbut with no beach to go to, we rarely enjoyed it to the full extent. There is a man made beach on the banks of the river, complete with faux-sea, palm trees and even sand but we only went there once. The surrounding area was very well designed and pretty with cafes, arbours and pleasant walks through a small rainforest to a (real) nepalese temple. I think it was a leftover from an expo or something. I didnít spend long there. I will be experiencing such things in their original environment within a few months!

I explored the city with a new found group of friends; i met Lizzy for five minutes in a bus station and then randomly saw her in my hostel reception. We were stuck hip to hip from then on, after which the group snowballed via other random meetings and chats to strangers in the kitchen etc. This is the life of a backpacker! Iím repeating myself iím sure, but one cannot worry about traditional social norms when travelling.

But other than a few walks to the Botanical Gardens and main shopping district (pitiful!) the only other main event of my stay in Brisbane was the trip to Australia Zoo, home to the ever-annoying, but nontheless entertaining Steve Irwin, aka Crocodile Hunter. You know the guyÖĒIím about to stick my head within the jaws of this man-eating alligator!ĒÖwhich he someone manages to emerge unscathed from. Shame.

The zoo is fantastic. Itís incredibly clean, well designed, meticulously cared for by all the staff and all the animals were obviously loved and attened to. I saw tortoises, turtles, tigers, elephants, wombats, camels (did you know Australia is the only place where there are now wild herds of camel?), emus, snakes, tasmanian devils (!), crocodiles, alligators, kangaroos (which we were allowed to feed), koalas (which we were allowed to stroke and then have our picture taken holding oneÖmum iím sending the pic back home. So cute! The koala is too) and a whole host of other animals as well.

My favourite was undoubtedly Harriet the 175 year old giant Galapagos Island tortoise who was once owned by Charles Darwin! How crazy is that?! (Dad you would have loved her. Buy some more tortoises, they were great.) Apart from her i think the alligators and crocs were most impressive mainly because this was the first time iíve ever seen one in the flesh. Itís very disquieting, yet thrilling, to see one for the first time just a few feet away.

Tigerís, alligators, snakes and exotic birds got more of an introduction in the 3 hour in the Crocaseum (geddit?!) show. Luckily not a performance in the circus sense as iím not a fan of that. It was informative and entertaining via demonstrating some of their natural behaviours.

The only other highlight of Brisbane was the nightlife, which we made the most out of before heading up north where there are no more cities of any great size. The Family was a good club, itís meant to be the best in Australia (likely) and the Southern hemisphere (unlikely). Some of the other bars and nights were notable but only because i woke up one morning with pen on my face (thanks Lizzy!) and tripped over a bag and almost slept the night cuddled up to my backpack another time. Good times!

So that was Brisbane. Not the highlight of my trip. For any future travellers, stay for a few days, no more.