October 23, 2016

Brisbane

I didn’t originally plan to visit Brisbane, Australia, but I’m really glad that I did. It was cooler and drier than Darwin and sunnier than Melbourne … and no crocodiles!

Brisbane is the capital of Queensland and also the jumping-off point for a lot of people’s Gold Coast adventures. But I thought that Brisbane proper was worth a few days of exploring.

Divided by the Brisbane River, the city has ferries that zig and zag to various docks on both sides. The CityHopper ferry is free — that’s the red boat — and the CityCat ferries (not free) operate more frequently and serve a wider network of stops.

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I took the CityCat to New Farm Park and the Brisbane Powerhouse, which is a former power station converted into a performance and art venue. It was also a good place to enjoy a refreshing riverside mocktail!

Next, I took the CityHopper to South Bank Parkland. This massive riverside development has shops, restaurants and a huge list of sightseeing goodies. Like: the Streets Beach man-made beach and lagoon, the Rainforest Green, the Nepal Peace Pagoda, and the giant Wheel of Brisbane (adding the word  “ferris” is a no-no).

I also noticed a clown mosaic in the sidewalk that both compelled and frightened me.

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During my South Bank visit, I also had my first nitrogen ice cream at Nitrogenie. Their “ice cream from magic!” is frozen before your eyes in mixers with liquid nitrogen. I would’ve been happy with just regular ol’ ice cream! But it was rich and tasty and came in a variety of flavors with interesting finishing touches. I noticed that one woman’s cup of ice cream was topped with whipped cream and — if I’m not mistaken — a syringe???

I later learned that the syringes are filled with sauces to “inject” as needed. Ahhhhh … okay.

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I also visited South Bank’s compact but fantastic Gallery of Modern Art.

On the other side of the river, in Brisbane’s CBD, there’s a wealth of shopping and eating opportunities, including the popular Queen Street Mall pedestrian street.

For the best view of the city, there’s the Mount Coot-tha Lookout, with a neighboring planetarium and botanical garden.

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About 40 minutes outside of Brisbane, there’s the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary and the koalas that I’ve already mentioned. But the sanctuary also has dingoes and wombats and native birds … like the kookaburra!

And a beautiful cassowary. These birds are huge and can be aggressive if encountered in the wild.

And, of course, more than 100 koalas. Hello there!!!

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And did I mention that you can also hold a koala???

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Yup … for a brief moment, and an $18 AUD fee, visitors can hold a koala in a designated area.

Before this koala was placed in my (loving!!!) arms, I was instructed to position my hands like I was holding a sack of flour. Except this sack was filled with koala. And I had to give my sack back. 😦