From Melbourne we headed up to Brisbane. The driver of our cab from the airport was obviously very proud of the city as he regaled us with how much activity is happening there, including that the city had the most construction cranes in the world during 2018. Well, there were still a lot in the central business district in 2019 too. Brisbane is all about the river, there is a lot of activity in town focused on a long and winding riverfront that includes much public and green space, lots of boardwalks, lots of building activity and plenty of places to wet your whistle and enjoy a meal. There are a variety of ferry boats to take you up and down the river including a free one that covers most of the central city, both sides of the river.
One side of the river features some cliffs that attract climbers and as we walked along the base of the cliff we watched a number of them heading up to the street above. We took the stairs. This area has some great skyline views and we passed a small grove that was getting set up for a wedding later in the day. A few hundred meters down another couple was having wedding photos taken with the remarkable combination of the natural features of the river and the cliffs along side the skyscrapers and boats moored along the park.
We arrived on a Friday, so we were able to check out several of the markets that set up every weekend. One, on the side of the river where the museums and entertainment areas are set up was full of artisans, from fabric and paper art to jewelry and photography. It was a bit rainy when we were there, but still well attended. Later in the weekend we went to the market in the botanical garden which had lots of food trucks, produce, jewelry, clothing, and jewelry that included opals mined nearby.
On a trip last year, we met a couple from Brisbane, and we had reached out to them when planning this trip. They had just sold their house and moved a few hours further north to get a beach location and be warmer (because the 30 C weather we had wasn’t warm enough for them) but were in town that weekend and we met them for drinks and dinner. It was great catching up with them and they were just as much fun as we remembered. Apparently, they meet a lot of people traveling and are always told “we are coming to Australia and will meet up with you” but we are the first people to ever actually follow through on that threat!
One of the oldest koala sanctuaries is in Brisbane and we decided to take the tour and check out the cute little buggers since we hadn’t yet seen any. The tour included an hour-long boat ride up the river to the sanctuary and there was commentary! We learned about the development of the city, the impact of three major floods and had many fancy homes and buildings pointed out to us. There was a three-story building that was built prior to the 1894 flood that still stands, and the captain was able to describe the three floods with the context of where they hit the building. In 1894 the floods filled the first floor, the flood in the 1970’s reached the bottom of the balcony on the third floor and the 2010 flood covered the first floor again. After the flood in the 1970s the city put in major flood control projects upstream including a huge dam, but even that couldn’t stop another flood in the area. It was nice to have some context for the impact of the floods.
When we arrived at the sanctuary we decided to spring for a photo with a Koala. That was a bit cheesy, but fun! And, the proceeds support the work being done to protect the wildlife at the sanctuary and around Australia. In addition to the koalas, there were platypus, kangaroos, crocodiles, lizards, dingoes and a variety of birds including emus, parrots, kookaburra, and a cassowary (the large bird that killed a guy in Florida a few weeks after we saw this one). We were able to pet not only the koala, but also a kangaroo which was surprisingly soft.