Brisbane has been a pleasant surprise especially after a few people asked us why we were going there. We’ve been staying in a great B&B. We are in the Rose Cottage at the “Lucerne on Fernberg”, an old farm house originally on the edge of town, now conveniently close to a train station just two stops from downtown. It feels like we’re out in the country – the bush – we can hear and see large fruit bats in the trees at night! It’s just a short walk to a neighborhood center, called Rosalie, with restaurants etc. We’ve had Thai and Indian!
Brisbane is a pretty city that wraps itself around both sides of a very curvy river. The central downtown district is on the north side. There’s a great long pedestrian mall with lots of shops and shopping centers. There are also a number of beautiful old buildings. One, the former Treasury, is now a casino run by Hilton!
The city municipal transit system has a fleet of catamarans they call City Cats. There are at least a dozen stops back and forth across the river for the Cats. It’s extremely easy to hop a Cat and get across or down the way on the river. We took them as far as they go in each direction, getting off at a few stops along the way. It’s definitely not just for the tourists.
They have used the space from their 1988 Expo on the South Bank of the river for a half mile or more of park with several museums and a Ferris Wheel at one end. The most amazing thing about the South Bank is that they built a man-made beach with water and sand that snakes along through the park and the whole city goes there to cool off just as if it were an ocean-side beach. There are pools of different sizes, an area with different kinds of water features to play in and there is a little river filled with river rock that kids can move around to make dams and such. There is a river walk along the whole length of the park next to the river and the “Beach Street” runs along next to that, no fences, no entrance fees. They have lifeguards but no big waves. Along the other side are two streets of cafes, restaurants and shops. The IMAX is over there too. I have never seen anything like it. I’m afraid the pictures can’t do it justice as it is so large an area.
It’s been hot here, in the mid 90s, which they say is unusual for this time of year. And very humid. I better get used to it as it will likely be even hotter as we head north tomorrow. Off to Cairns, the Great Barrier Reef and a smaller town called Palm Cove where we will stay.
P.S. Sadly, the huge floods in January 2011 have destroyed this beautiful waterfront.