Totally Into Brisbane

Having worked in the Brisbane area for over a week now, we’ve had one or two occasions where we’ve been at liberty to wander. The first good chance we got was Sunday 25th; and so we decided to head into the urban jungle of Brisbane City. As we went back again today, I’ve decided to amalgamate the experiences one psuedo day that could, in some parallel universe, have happened (but incidentally didn’t).

Like any good tourists in Brisbane we started with the South Bank Parklands. This little stretch of paradise has beautiful landscaping, restaurants, bars, markets and Australia’s only innercity beach, something we spent a full afternoon enjoying (and in true British fashion managed to pick the most overcast afternoon since we’ve been here). There’s also a large ferris wheel that looks distinctly like a slightly scaled down London Eye and various graceful bridges nearby tempting us across to the Brisbane CBD: the heart of the city.

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From Ipswich to Ipswich

And so we had arrived in Brisbane late Sunday night. Lucy was due to begin work with Pet & Vet Springfield Lakes on Monday, at 7am. The drive was half an hour though, plus a half hour contingency, plus getting ready time, equalled a fair 5am start. We found our way to the veterinary practice no trouble; a little place called Springfield Lakes in a town called Ipswich, which I am sure we have heard of somewhere.

Content in knowing I was in a Nuclear-free zone, my return drive to the motel was reassuringly radiationless. I got experimental with the route on the way back; I loathe Satnavs and have managed quite well thus far using the highly advanced “reading signs” method, so this was all playing rule of thumb. I was here to explore and the result led to an overall greater understanding of the area. Continue reading

Roadtrip Brisbane

I was a little relieved to wake up feeling as I did Saturday morning; an able-minded member of human society again but still in a great deal of pain. My brain knew that Brisbane was a long way, but nothing I compared it to seemed to give my brain the sense of distance I would be dealing with. I decided to just take it as it came, so bring on the Hyundai.

The car was brand new, registered Western Australia with just 3,800 km on it. We were going to add at least another third on that. We had snacks, supplies and ample water for the desert of broken glass that was my throat. A quick glance at the road map, then we shot off north over the harbour bridge, waving a fond farewell to Sydney (for now).

After about ninety million traffic-sodden intersections of north Sydney, we arrived at the Pacific Highway. This is exactly as you might imagine it (minus the Pacific part admittedly, which is typically 4-5 km away). But it was just the kind of heavy-duty, 18-wheeler, cliff-lined, palm-tree’d, sweeping vista’d freeway that I (and many cooped up UK drivers) always wanted to drive on.

We drove for ages, and then some. It was a big ol’ highway. I took a scenic detour, then we decided against it for time was pressing, so we rejoined the Pacific. We continued driving. Time passed. George R. R. Martin probably wrote another book. Then finally, we came upon Newcastle, for we needed a break. And how far along the route was this great leap to Newcastle?

About a fifth, actually.

Still, I was enjoying the scenery and the geographical milkshake of placenames, if not the fact that my throat felt drier than the rocks by the roadside. Shadows were beginning to lengthen by this point, so we settled on reaching Armidale. But by Tamworth, some 150km short, it was pitch black so we grabbed some fuel just in case. When we did eventually get to Armidale it was just 8pm, but it felt like midnight. We found a motel, more expensive than we’d hoped but very fancy all the same, so took it. Continue reading

Man Up for Manly

The second night in Sydney was challenging. My symptoms were getting worse and I woke up countless times for one reason or another. Then, at about 5 am, I awoke on what I would later realise was a painkiller high. Believing the worst to be over, I proclaimed our planned visit to Manly for Day 3 would be no sweat.

Initially I was fine and despite needing an army of tissues I really felt I’d gotten over it, once I’d had a hearty bacon & egg roll and cup of tea from a nearby cafe on William Street. We took a leap and decided to hire a car from Europcar for the journey to Brisbane in the weekend (and the subsequent drives to the veterinary practice Lucy would be working at). It certainly wasn’t the cheapest thing we’ve ever done, but I think the layers of reputability and insurance are weight off the mind at least.

I greatly enjoyed the ferry ride from Circular Quay to Manly Wharf. Of all the impressive scenery, it was my first ever glimpse at the Pacific Ocean that felt most profound; as much as one ocean is alike another, for the largest mass of water on the planet it had taken be a long time getting round to visiting it. I also found my imagination wandering, picturing what it might have been like for those on the First Fleet sailing into the harbour waters on big wooden ships, under the near silent power of sail instead of the throbbing diesel engine. What would it all have looked like without buildings? That moment, hundreds of years ago, was were modern Australia originated. It was a powerful notion.

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Arrival in Australia

The sun has set in Sydney, bringing our second full day here to a close. Already I feel vastly more aquainted with this city than I ever expected; perhaps it’s the informality, perhaps its the fascinating & unusual past, but it seems clear to me why so many people come here and unexpectedly find themselves at home.

We arrived on Tuesday night, on a Quantas Airbus A380. This is an aeroplane that cannot be overstated. The worlds largest airliner, the A380 truly is a beast. But it also offers a fantastic flight to even the budget traveller. One of the innovations, known as Skycam, was a tail-mounted forward-facing camera you could view from the seatback screens, showing an excellent view of what was going on outside. The meals were delicious, snacks frequent and the entertainment on offer for the seatback was sublime. It is possibly the only way 21 hours in a chair could be considered enjoyable. Continue reading