Brisbane

I’m already enjoying my time in New Zealand, but there are still some things left I should write about Australia. My last three days there weren’t idle. Every time I visited Brisbane, the capital of Queensland, the weather wasn’t on my side. But I guess it was the case of ‘three times lucky’.

My first visit to Brisbane was just a ride by a bus, so it doesn’t really count. Then it was raining last Saturday, when we went to see the match. Monday was sunny, but we had dinner with friends in the evening and I was afraid that I wouldn’t make it on time, if I went to the city. So I stayed at home and updated my blog, deleted some photos and watched movies – a normal lazy day.

On Tuesday the air smelled of rain. I wasn’t sure if I should go or not, but those were my last days there and I hadn’t seen Brisbane properly, yet! By the time I got myself together and got to the city it was afternoon and it started to rain. It took me 1.5 hrs by bus from Kippa-Ring. I had to take two lines, change at Chermside.

When I finally arrived in Brisbane, first thing I did was to buy some New Zealand dollars. The service at Travelex on Queen Street was nice, but I was stupid. They sell very cheap, AUD 1 = NZD1.15 and I realised I lost a couple dollars, because I should have looked for the exchange where NZ dollar is more expensive. Oh, well, I’m not the only one who’s made that mistake, I hope. I’m not good at Maths… and common sense.
The rain was getting stronger and it was late when I finished shopping. I bought a t-shirt with koala and a small boomerang.

All the museums and galleries were closed, but I wanted to see anything anyway. I didn’t care about the rain (I’m proud of my shoes and waterproof jacket, they passed the test), so I went along the South Bank and found Max Brenner recommended by Jessica, my friend from Texas (her blog: Bake Me Away).

Should be “CHOCOLATE BY THE BALD MAN” on the wall, but some letters are missing and is “CHOCO-ATE BY THE -A-D –AN”. I ordered Mexican spicy hot chocolate, very good.

The rain was changing into storm with lightnings and thunders, so I thought it would be better to be at home in the weather like that.

Wednesday was my last chance to see Brisbane and this time was a complete success.

P. slept over and went to work later. He picked me up to Northgate and I went to the city by train this time. It took me 30 min. and I started exploring the city from 10 a.m. roaming the streets. There was some construction work going on on King Gorge Square, they were getting ready for 3 week Brisbane Festival starting this Saturday.

Queen Street (yes, that’s Kimbra on the poster on the lamp 🙂 )

Walking along Adelaide Street towards Victoria Bridge I found a market. It was a Farmers Market Day on the square by City Council and there were stalls with fresh food, vegetables, fruit, nuts, flowers, real sour dough bread and rolls and everything else. In this photo there’s Treasury – Casino in the background.

Crossing the Brisbane River: the wheel and the Cultural Centre.

Then I had some time at GoMA again and finished watching the exhibitions there, had a coffee at the State Library and spent a lot of time at the Art Gallery (everything is actually next to each other). I was impressed by their collection and I could find a couple statues by Renoir, some paintings by Picasso, Pizarro, Toulouse-Lautrec. I stayed on South Bank and walked through Parklands. Australians can’t stay too far from beaches, so they made a beach next to the River.

Then I caught City Cat, a ferry, to New Farm Park. I loved being on the water and it went very fast!

From the left: Central Business District, still under construction to be the tallest building in Queensland, Story Bridge.

New Farm Park. The branches were so wide and heavy that they needed a support.

Walked along Brunswick Street to Fortitude Valley or just the Valley (like Soho in London)

Chinatown

And it was already after the sunset, walked back to Adelaide Street and went back home to pack my bags to New Zealand.

To finish the Australian story I need to mention that there are free barbecues at every beach, so you can bring your food and have a barbie with friends. I drove 5 km on the left side of the road when we were going to Glass House Mountains. I was more scared of driving a better car than my dad’s than driving on the left side. I had problems with changing gears and that car had good breaks. And since I’m writing about the Mountains… Eight years ago, an 11 year boy disappeared, Daniel Morcombe and no one knew what happened to him. When I came to Australia, a man was charged of committing a murder on Daniel and for the whole August the Police was searching for the boy at the foot of Beerwah in Glass House Mountains (the mountain on the left). First, they found a shoe, then the second shoe and a couple days before I left they found Daniel’s bones and whatever left from him. Finally his parents could grieve after him.

What else… I saw Compliments of Gus, a Christian band, quite big here, had déjà vu twice and magpies started swooping if you came too close to their nest. They were dangerous and it was better to wear a helmet when we were going by bikes.

Sorry about this megapost. The next one is going to be shorter and about New Zealand.

Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary

The weather on SUNDAY was beautiful and after the church service P. didn’t want to tell me where we were going and he took me to Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. Tickets for adults were $32, I think and I got a YHA discount.

Finally, I saw koalas and they were everywhere! We were just on time for a short presentation about the Sanctuary and koalas and I could touch one. (You could also cuddle a koala and have a photo with one, but 1 photo cost $16). They are so cute! Did you know that they sleep about 20 hours per day and the rest of their time they do what? Eat! And they are quite picky, because among 800 kinds of eucalyptus trees they like just about 50. They looked so funny, like bundles stuck between branches.

Except for the koalas, there were other Australian animals, like:

Kangaroos. They were so cool! You could walk up to them or they came to you.


Dingoes, Tasmanian devils, wombats, emus, cassowaries

First and second most poisonous snakes in the world, crocodiles, lizards and a platypus – a mammal that lays eggs.

We left the Sanctuary at about 5 p.m. and went up to Mt Coot-tha lookout just before the sunset.

And we watched the city drinking coffee (me – flat white and not sandwiches… FOTC fans should know the Jenny reference 😉 ) and waiting until it got dark and all the lights went on.

The daytime of the night!

Wallabies V All Blacks

The last weekend in Australia kept me busy, because you realise that there’s still so much to see and not much time left. But after all, my priority was to get used to being down-under and get as much comfortable as possible and I think it’s been achieved.

OK, so first, what I did on Saturday.

I started with being very useful and practical. I leant how to make scones. My friend, S., who took me to his College a couple days earlier, had told me that his dad gives tutorials to foreigners from time to time on scone making, so I said that I’d love to learn. He was free on Saturday morning and they weren’t that difficult to make. The scones came out delicious, so yummy with strawberry jam and whipped cream and I hope you’ll get the chance of tasting my scones some time in the future.

After the scones we went to Chermside, left the car by the shopping centre there and went to Brisbane by bus (you could travel by bus on a rugby ticket on that day). Unfortunately, it was raining the whole day and it only stopped just before the match, so that meant spending most of the time inside. I visited Australia the Gift (a souvenir shop) in the city centre, then crossed the River and went to Queensland Museum (an interesting exhibition about Torres Strait Islanders) and Gallery of Modern Art partially, because it was getting late and we were getting hungry. We went to Myer Centre and I had my noodles from a box first time in my life, just like in films (no, we don’t have them in Poland, I think; we don’t even have a Chinese restaurant in my hometown!).

I was a bit tired, hot chocolate put me on my feet on the way to Suncorp Stadium. The closer we were to the Stadium the more excited I was. Then when I found my seat, it turned out that I was pretty close to the field. We were early enough to see the teams warming up and I was able to come down to row 1 and take some photos of Dan Carter practicing his kicks.


An indigenous artist playing didgeridoo

Anthems

The All Blacks supporters, that’s where I was sitting 😀

Haka! (watch)

The game. First half the All Blacks played rubbish and I was like, “Is this what I came for?!” They were loosing the ball (I know, it was slippery, but the Wallabies played with the same one) and lost so many chances to score some points. It was 20:6 for the Wallabies.

After the break they got better in the second half, two tries and for a little while there was a tie. It was great to cheer them on together with some Kiwis (I suspect there were a couple thousand there. The venue was sold out and there were about 52,000 people all together). Not for long after the AB’s second try, the Aussies scored another try. Even though Cooper missed two kicks, it was too late to wake up for the All Blacks and Australia won 25:20 and the 2011 Tri Nations.

Essential Aussie moment: someone on the bus back home started singing Waltzing Matilda.

I hope New Zealand will be in a better form for the Rugby World Cup starting in two weeks.

three bridges

The weather is getting better. For the last couple days it’s been raining and has been a bit chilly. We went again by bikes to the coast. This time on the south to see the bridges to Brisbane.

Then in the evening I was invited to my friend’s church, a lot smaller than the Mueller, for a Talent show. It’s organized every Friday to collect money for children camps. I was surprised to see a Christmas tree there and I was told they’ve got Christmas in July! I was also sorry I didn’t have my recorder with me, because there was one girl who sang her own songs and they were beautiful!

I thought I should have learned by now that wherever I go, I should take my camera and recorder with me.

Tomorrow is going to be pretty exciting day. First, I’m learning how to make scones, then we’re going to explore Brisbane and the All Blacks vs. Wallabies in the evening. When I came to Australia and G. told me he got the tickets for the game about a month ago, I thought, “Wow, there is still so much time until I see it!” And I can’t believe it’s already tomorrow!

EKKA

Last WEDNESDAY

I had mentioned before the Royal Queensland Show, known as EKKA and all Queenslanders had a holiday on 17th August. P. had a day off too, so he took me to see what it’s all about.

It’s hard to describe what EKKA is, because it’s everything. It’s a 10-day festival taking place in one place destined for this in Brisbane. The area is usually closed for the rest of the year, which I think is a waste of money, because it’s huge!

After you bought the tickets ($25 per adult, the price varied if you were a child, teenager or family), you crossed a gate and conquer crowds of people at the theme park

We had a sausage on a stick and then could move on to see other attractions, like:

Wood chopping competition

Dogs competitions

When I saw those women I felt like I moved back in time to those years when Australia was still a British colony.

Then we went to pavilions where different farm animals were presented: cows, sheep, goats, llamas, horses, also birds and fish.




One pavilion was a nursery, where you could feed baby animals

A famous bar

In one pavilion there were photo, painting, sculpture, cooking, knitting and other handcrafts exhibitions and in another one there were agricultural exhibitions. All these things (animals, exhibitions, photographs etc.) were awarded on that day.

In the evening, at the very heart of the EKKA there were motocross bikes and then monster tracks shows and the fireworks as a grand finale.

We left at about 9 p.m.

At the EKKA I saw two faces of Australia: city kids with their tight jeans falling down from their bottoms having fun at the theme park and farmers in cowboy hats looking after their cattle and having fun at the live country music.

More photos from the EKKA.

Broncos V Warriors

I just got my first watching rugby live experience and the match was awesome! It was between two teams of the National Rugby League, Brisbane Broncos and New Zealand Warriors at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane. At first, when P. offered me going to see the match, I wasn’t so keen on it, because he was talking about watching a footie and I thought he was talking about football / soccer and I’m not a fan of this sport (Aussies have this funny way of creating new words like: brekky, cabbie or barbie). But when I discovered he meant rugby, then… yeah!

The atmosphere before, during and after the match was amazing. I couldn’t believe I could see so great variaty of supporters. There were whole families, parents with their small kids, even 3 year old boys and girls, women older than my mum (I’d say they were about 70 years old), men and of course the youth and people in my age. The whole event was like one big family festival, all well behaving and enjoying their time together. I loved it.

The game was keeping me on the edge of my seat. First half belonged to New Zealand (yay!), but during the second half Australia earned some points and there was a tie score for a while. I was supporting the Warriors, but I didn’t mind if the Broncos won, because the match was really special for the locals. The captain of the team from Brisbane, Darren Lockyer is going to retire soon and this was, I think his last match at the home stadium. And he did well. He scored the last point with a goal and the Broncos won 21:20. But New Zealand should blame themselves, because they missed three kicks. As a consolation, I know the All Blacks “shredded” the Wallabies tonight, and that game was more important.


These guys were just so cool and sweet. The one on the right asked me if I work ‘here’. Apparently, I looked very professional or they were very drunk. 😀 I’ll have to work on my live sport events shots a bit more. 😉

a bus driver

Yesterday I had this song in my head all day,

G. got a call from school, so he went to work. He’s a relief teacher. Sometimes he works one day a week, sometimes more often and he can choose the schools he wants to work at. He’s got a good life. For one day (6 classes) of his work he earns a half of my monthly salary. Imagine that! Poland is like a third world country.

P. is a bus driver and he works from Monday to Friday from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. with a few hour break in between. Yesterday he came at about noon and took me to show me his work. I got a free bus tour around Brisbane and its suburbs.

The population of the city is 1.6 million and it’s located by the Brisbane River. Last year the financial centre of the city, which is just right by the river was closed for a couple days due to the floods. The city itself is pretty modern and still growing, great public transport, modern buildings and there’s a new bridge. The council house looks like a modern art gallery.


Town hall on the right

The suburbs are on the hills surrounding the city and riding through them is like riding in a rollercoaster in a theme park; the hills are that steep.

I liked the western suburbs the most. The houses are built on tall poles in the treetops. It’s as if the road was running through the hills and the houses were stuck to the sides of the hills and there was not enough ground to build a house on it, so they are on the poles.

After the tour P. took me to his friends for dinner. A group of more than 20 people who recently visited Israel got together to remember the trip and share with the stories and photos. The food was good. I had falafel and then halva. All in Israeli style, but there was one Australian accent. I tried pavlova. Yummm! It was a lemon meringue crusty outside, soft inside, very sweet and on top there was like thick vanilla custard and various fruit. There was also chocolate cake, but not as good as mine. 😉

the flight

Finally I bought an adapter to plug in the charger for my laptop and I’m back to life! 😛

I’m in Australia and I’m staying at my friend’s in Kippa-Ring on the Redcliffe peninsula, about 20 km north-northeast of Brisbane, Queensland. I’ll write more about this place later, but first how I got here.

My last dinner in London were pancakes with white cheese and blackcurrant jam made by my sister. I’ll be dreaming about them every time I miss a Polish homemade meal.

We took off from the Heathrow airport on Monday at about 22:30. It was my first flight by such a huge plane and I was feeling lost. I got a bit confident when I saw this on the seats 😉 :

Shame to admit, but I didn’t know such simple things like how to turn the light on or where I should plug the headphones in. The screen was great, so when I finally figured out how to operate it, I listened to the latest Kate Bush’s album Director’s Cut (love it!) and watched Rio and Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. I was overwhealmed by all that new stuff in front of me that I didn’t know what to choose. After the second film, though I was actually tired and thought I should try to sleep. However it was time for breakfast and soon after that we were landing in Dubai. It was 5 a.m. UK time, but 8 a.m. in the United Arab Emirates. I had flown for 6 hours and lost the night.

In Dubai I had only 2 hours to change the planes. Long enough to refresh myself and browse through the shops. I forgot about Australian custom restrictions and bought a box of dates. Luckily, they allowed me to take them with me later at the Australian border. I was a good girl and declared them.

Back to Dubai. I was amused to see those signs next to each other on the information board,

I didn’t have to wait long to get on the second plane and I was more educated this time. The screen was showing 13 hours of flight, so I had enough time to sleep and watch movies. Sometime in between those “activities” (because I wasn’t very active, you know?), I saw we had crossed the equator! YAY! (sorry for the blurry photos, but we had strong turbulences, like on a train or coach… in Polish terms. 😉 )

A couple hours after we took off in Dubai, we flew into the night. Here we still had had 7 hours till Brisbane:

I’d been travelling for that long by coach, but it wasn’t the same as it was by plane. When you travel by coach there are stops more often, you can stretch your legs, walk for a little bit until the next part of the journey. On the plane it’s difficult and the only walk you take is to the toilet and back. It’s even more difficult when you sit in the middle and not by the aisle. I had a seat between two people on the first plain, but I was lucky to sit by the aisle on the second. Believe me, there’s no point in taking the seat by the window. You can’t see anything anyway, because it’s a night or just empty sky and you have to jump over two people, who can be fast asleep, to make a pee. OK, I’ll finish with that my “travelling long distances by plane” philosophy.

We landed in Brisbane on Wednesday, 3rd August at 6:30 early morning (still Tuesday 2nd Aug 21:30 in the UK). For you, I left London ‘yesterday’; for me it was two days ago. Funny thing is, the time…

A bit of statistics: about 20 hours in the air and 17,000 km away.

I stood in a long queue to the passport control just behind… a Polish family. I wasn’t surprised actually. When I was finally able to go with my dates after being questioned by a custom officer, I took my bag, which I welcomed like a pet or a long time no see co-traveller, and left the airport building. I WAS IN AUSTRALIA!!!! 😀

Soon after that my friend picked me up and on the way to his home he promised to give me some essential Australian experiences. Apart from seeing the All Blacks vs Wallabies match, I don’t know what else that could be. 😉

This is my home for the next month: