I'm A Celebrity.....!

Brixham Kiwi By Brixham Kiwi, 8th May 2011 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Travel>Oceania>Australia>Queensland

We travel to Brisbane in search of warmth and yes, it gets warmer...... and wetter!

We enjoy Brisbane

Things to do in Brisbane. Buy a “Go” Card which allows you to travel on all of Brisbane's public transport; put some money on it. Get on a City Cat (large comfortable catamarans that travel every 15 mins or so up and down the Brisbane River) at the University of Queensland stage (one end of the journey), swipe your “Go” card, sit somewhere comfortable and enjoy the trip as you are taken from stage to stage down the river, under amazing bridges, past new tower blocks, the Maritime Museum, old wool warehouses and beautiful riverside houses. When you get to the last stage obviously the cat turns around and you can enjoy the trip all over again. When you get back to the University of Queensland, get off, swiping your “Go” card as you do so. We were charged the princely sum of $3 – amazing value – a similar trip on a tourist boat would have set us back $30 or more! The system works out the charges based on GPS and of course only sees that you got on and off at the same stop.

Brisbane also has an amazing beach, right in the middle of the city. Soft white sand, blue lagoon, islands – and it appears to be open all night. We went for a stroll along the South Bank one evening, stopping for a wonderful Malaysian meal along the way, perusing a night market. Liz and I were only allowed about 10 minutes as the men tutted and pulled faces waiting for us and then we tutted and pulled faces as they lingered by the beach watching the young and beautiful bikini clad girls swimming around. As we walked back to the car we could hear the sounds of a rock band across the river. Neither Liz nor Phil knew who they were although we all agreed they must be well known because the huge crowd all seemed to know the words to the songs. When we got back we checked on the Internet and found that we had been listening to nearly the Last Ever Concert of... wait for it..... POWDERFINGER! Yep, I can hear all the WOW's and gasps of amazement from here.

Jeremy had broken a tooth whilst in Sydney and decided to have it sorted out while we were in Brisbane – so took himself off to a dentist where he had it painlessly extracted (painless for me anyway....). We spent the afternoon wandering around the Botanical Gardens which were beautiful, full of all sorts of exotic plants and also alive with Water Dragons – big lizards, some up to half a metre long; also lots of birds including the odd looking Ibis, colourful Lorikeets and noisy Sulphur Crested Cockatoos screeching overhead. The Jacaranda tree was in full flower – the beautiful lavender flowers come before the foliage; lots of Eucalyptus trees which of course shed bark everywhere – the many varieties all smelling different, eucalyptus, of course, but also turpentine, especially after rain, and minty. There were enormous Swiss Cheese Plants (for those of you who remember the 70's...) and glorious Bougainvillea, climbing up through trees.

Fraser Island

We hired a little camper van for our last couple of weeks – about a third of the size of our Bertie Bus in New Zealand, and not nearly as “luxurious” as our little Roma at home – there wasn't even a loo!!! However we managed quite well, getting up as far as Fraser Island – the Biggest Sand Island in the World which also has a lot of the Biggest Fly in the World – called March Flies they are about six times the size of a normal house fly and apparently have a very nasty bite. Luckily they are very slow so I didn't get bitten although I went into full flap panic mode whenever I saw one. Jeremy stayed in our little camper for a bit of R&R whilst I went on a Fraser Island Tour. The weather? Well, it was grey, it rained, it was cloudy but the sun DID come out when we got to McKenzie Lake in the middle of the Island – very strange, crystal pure water (although after seeing all the bodies bathing in it, I wouldn't like to drink it) in beautiful shades of aqua and blue on a bed of pure white, talcum powder sand. I did have a lovely swim amongst all the backpackers and enjoyed the sight of a Lace Monitor (another big lizard) snooping along the beach.

What's THAT in the loo....?

We drove back towards Brisbane after a few days, heading for Lake Wivenhoe as Liz and Phil had asked us to join them for a day’s sailing with their son James and one of their daughters, Julie and boyfriend. A picnic was enjoyed by all and then enjoyment of the lake began, with various people taking out, at different times, the kayaks, the catamaran and the windsurfer. Jeremy then said he would take the cat out for a little sail before we packed up to get back to Brisbane, and off he went. I was slightly concerned when he went out of sight, although obviously had no concerns about his competency when sailing, However, when 20-30 minutes later he STILL hadn't hove back into view we all started to wonder where he had got to. Eventually Liz spotted twin blue hulls sticking out of the water, way, way out; The catamaran had flipped. Luckily we had our trusty Lidl bino's with us so we watched as Jeremy struggled to get the thing to flip back over again – to no avail. James and Phil set off in the kayaks while Liz and I watched as Jeremy was blown, on an upside down catamaran, across the bay. Liz phoned the Ranger (the only person on the lake allowed to use a motorised form of transport – a jet ski) who said he would watch out for them, but as they were in no immediately danger wouldn't immediately be rushing to their aid.

Well, Brisbane is sub-tropical, meaning that twilight is short – and as the minutes ticked away we became concerned that it would soon be dark. At around 5.15 the Ranger arrived with his jet ski and shot off across the lake, just as one kayak appeared around the far point. That turned out to be James, who, in spite of having a party lined up that night, chose to stay. He told us that the catamaran hulls were so full of water that it had proved impossible to turn back over.

We did have a little bit of light “relief” – I had gone up to the loos earlier and been shocked, when, as I flushed a large green thing slithered down the bowl, then relieved when I saw it was a large frog! Liz and I made use of the facilities again and found that out of four loos, only one was available for use – all of the others had froggy occupants!

Anyway, 6 o-clock came and went, 7 o-clock came and went, finally about 7.15 we heard the welcome sound of the jet ski! The Ranger arrived with Jeremy on the back. The jet ski had towed the cat into the shore on its side when with long concerted effort the three of them were able to right the vessel. Phil was now sailing back across the lake towing the other kayak. Eventually we were all reunited and after time spent loading the boats back on trailers etc we made our weary way back to Liz and Phil’s house. The only casualty was Jeremy who sustained a nasty gash to his leg and James who lost a thong (jandel or flip flop if not Australian!).

Back to Sydney

After a couple of days rest we set off again, this time for Sydney. We kept away from the coast in the main because of “Schoolies” which is when the 16 year-old school leavers head for the coast to party – apparently it renders much of the East Coast unusable for that week and certainly from the reports we read in newspapers, we were glad to miss it (Think Newquay if in Britain!). We did however see some wonderful sights – lots of rainforest and the Ice House Mountains – plugs of extinct volcanoes and we went up to Dorrigo (Dor (as in Doris) iggo) where we walked through yet another rainforest – the most jungley by far – it even warned about blood sucking leeches and what to do if you found one on you...... eeeeek, luckily I managed to stay leech free! In fact the only wildlife we saw in that forest was a Brush Turkey (known as a BBT (Bloody Brush Turkey) – they are very common, protected and are a bloomin' nuisance – one even got into the back of our little camper and stole a brand new packet of pasta. We have seen and heard lots of Kookaburras, Honeyeaters, many different types of Parrot and Miner Birds. I've seen only two kangaroos/wallabies in the wild – one came hopping up a path towards us – magic; I'm sad not to have seen a snake in the wild or a koala but I did see an ENORMOUS spider. It was another close encounter of the loo kind.... I went into one of the aptly named “long-drops”, flipped up the lid with a finger nail, like you do, and there, sat sitting, right in the middle of the lid was a huge, grey hairy spider – I left her to it and used another and I suppose it could have been worse, it could have been a small, black spider with a red back......!!!!

Charter a Yacht Anybody?

Our last day was spent in Sydney where we walked over the Sydney Harbour Bridge and were lucky enough to see the Athena – one of the largest yachts in the world – very beautiful – available for charter at $275,000 a week apparently – we decided against and just enjoyed our last wander around Circular Quay and one last enormous ice cream whilst enjoying the sound of the didgerido before a night in a hotel and early flight back to NZ the following morning.

Would we go back?

So, we come away from Oz and back to NZ having had a great time. Would we go back? Yes, probably, if the exchange rate improves. At the moment Australia is VERY expensive for us Brits and even many Australians that we met on our journey were having a moan about inflation. We saw leeks at $4.98 each, yes, EACH and peppers at $4 each, that is about £3.50 and £3 respectively!!!!).

Things we loved:

The wildlife! Fantastic bird life – Lorikeets, many different types of Parrots, noisy Cockatoos, even noisier Miner Birds, the fantastic Kookaburras with their insane “laugh” morning and evening. Huge Emus and the outlandish scary Cassowary (search on YouTube!). Then there are the Kangaroos/Wallabies. I don't really know how to tell them apart except, I think, Kangaroos tend to be bigger and live more in the outback/desert/huge grasslands and Wallabies tend to live more in bush/forest. I did see two Wallabies (probably Wallabies....) in the wild but only saw Koala, Emu and the bottom half of a Duck Billed Platypus (he was hiding under a rock..) at the Lone Pine Sanctuary – www.koala.net .

I did see a huge stick insect in Liz and Phil’s garden – it was about a foot long!

We were too far south to see Saltwater Crocs but I could live with that! I was a bit disappointed not to see a snake, a Carpet Python would have been good, or a Death Adder, but sadly nothing (apart from zoo). Then of course there are the spiders.... Not my favourite thing with legs it has to be said, but there is something about the sheer size of them that fascinates and apart from the one on loo lid we did see two rather large Huntsman spiders that scuttle at about 100 miles an hour, luckily not in our bedroom or camper van I have to say! Hats off to the I'm A Celebrity contestants – I wouldn't want one on me!!! And in spite of Jeremy's “Sailor's Tales” I didn't see one large Brisbane Cockroach!

The beaches are beautiful, lovely sand, lovely blue water and white surf, sadly the weather wasn't quite good enough for us to venture in.

The vitality of the place, you can almost hear the buzz.

We love the fact you can have fires in most camp grounds (didn't realise until recently I was married to a pyromaniac!!!) AND that most of them also provide bins for litter; this is not true of New Zealand where, sadly, there is often more litter.

Things that amused:

The road saying “Wrong Way! Go Back!” on slip roads coming off major roads.
The sign on one lane bridges saying “No Overtaking” , hmmm, like to see somebody try!
The road sign saying “No Overtaking Unless Safe to To So” so.... not like you usually do then....

Things that irritated:

The signage!!!! The amount of time and fuel we wasted looking for a signpost that ended up being right on the junction! Sometimes even just INSIDE the junction. We did a lot of Uiys – more difficult in the little camper van because there was no power steering.

And the hugely irritating “Crest” sign as you reached the top of a hill especially on a switchback type of hill where there was a crest every few hundred metres!

The roads – they are APPALLING!!! A lot of the main roads aren't good, potholes, wrong camber etc, but the roads once you get away from the coast..... Generally more patches than road and then more potholes, dips, ridges, washouts....

Things we hated:

The blasted sandflies – worse than New Zealand – at one point I counted over 200 bites on my legs!


Australia, Brisbane, Jan Loach, Jan Puckett, Kangaroos, Spiders, Wallabies

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author avatar Brixham Kiwi
If I must get old, let me travel

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author avatar Songbird B
9th May 2011 (#)

I love reading your travel articles, Brixham Kiwi, you write so well, so vividly, I feel as if I can see it through your eyes! Gorgeous photos too...What a wonderful trip..Lovely, lovely share..

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