I was only going to spend around 3 days in Brisbane as time was ticking away fast and Australia was proving to be an expensive place to travel, visit and party. The plan was now to skip NZ as I had luckily managed to visit there 5 years ago with work. Although NZ is a beautiful place, I would be going over ground that I had already covered and I wanted to get somewhere cheap so it looked as though Thailand was now on for the start of March. It`s all well having a plan but it is rare that you stick to such a plan! I had booked myself into a recommended budget hostel, no mistakes were going to be repeated here after the disaster of the hostel in Surfers! Tinbillys (my new home for a couple of nights) had the added luxury of air con in the drom rooms which was going to be bliss after the last few weeks if high humidity and constant sweating!! Tinbillys was also a a short walk from Roma Transit Center which was the main thoroughfare for transport in and out of Brisbane. Also my backpack was seemingly getting heavier even though I had been reducing my load en route with unnecessary “warm clothing” brought in from the UK.
The journey from Byron to Brisbane is a short 2 hr bus ride and in no time at all I was saying sad farewells to friends in Byron to being slap bang in the middle of a thriving metropolis again. I arrived late afternoon and I could immediately feel the buzz and energy of Australia`s fastest growing city. Brisbane has a population of 1.8 million and growing everyday which seems to be mostly crammed into the city centre which is another great mix of old colonial buildings and skyscrapers. Everything seems centred around Brisbane River and, like Sydney the city is very easy to discover by foot. On my first night in Brisbane I met up with Emily and Stu (fellow Surfer Campers) in an Irish Bar up the road from my hostel. There seems to be a lot of Irish in Australia and most of which seem to congregate in the city centres and of course in Irish bars. In fact one Irish chap I encountered told me he had been traveling for 8 months, well traveling in the loose sense. He had arrived from Dublin to Brisbane 8 months ago and was only staying for 9 months in Australia before going back home and was very proud of the fact that he had not gone more than 5 kms in any direction from the hostel or the bar in the hostel!! Amusing to say that he called himself a traveler!! After a few swift ales catching up on good times past, I headed back to hostel for a relatively early night as I needed to catch up on sleep and also to start booking a few future activities – Australia Zoo and Fraser Island.
Next day I headed out to the streets of Brisbane to have a look around to see what Brisbane had to offer!! First Stop was to book the bus to Australia Zoo and look to see what prices were available for Fraser Island. I also asked the travel shop what there was to do in Brisbane and was greeted by a glazed look and the comment “not a lot” – what a helpful assistant! I headed down to the CBD (central business district) to grab a coffee and to watch the commuters scurrying to work and thinking to myself how lucky I was to be on a trip of a life time and not to be amongst the rat race. I then strolled through the CBD down past the impressive City Hall and Treasury buildings and then came across the beautiful Botanic Gardens where I escaped the madness of the rush hour for around an hour or two! I was actually trapped in there as there was a savage downpour and my only shelter was was a small gazebo. After 3/4 of an hour of continuous downpour it was if someone had turned off the water switch and turned on the lights as I was greeted by glorious sunshine! I continued my walk down to Government House and then ambled up to Anzac memorial for a stop of lunch. I spent much of the time looking up as skyscrapers are something we lack in the UK and seemed to fascinate me at the time. After this I headed onto the Brisbane Museum which was unfortunately closed for the afternoon.
The rest of the day was taken winding my way through the sophisticated and prosperous streets, shopping arcades and parks of Brisbane before heading back to start another night of festivities! I had a night out with Zita and Aoefe (more surf campers) when I got back which was going to be one of the last nights in Brisbane before heading further north this time on my own. Brisbane is a lovely city which mixes the new and old very well just like Sydney and Melbourne, but essentially it is a commercial city with little to attract the regular tourist. All aside it is a great city with a real buzz about it something that is lost in the smaller towns of Australia. The nightlife certainly raised my perception of Brisbane as the Valley certainly proved an excellent stop to party till the early hours. I was also eagerly awaiting my visit to Steve Irwin`s Australia Zoo.