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sailingfastforward
31st Oct 2008 - 16th Dec 2008
BRISBANE

01 November to 16 December 2008 So after spending a wonderful weekend in Sydney with Cheryl, Ben and Russel, we arrived back on board at 5pm on Monday, 3 November, only to find a note from the Wombats saying that they’d moved to Dockside Marina, and that they’d (very kindly!) booked a berth for us at a much cheaper rate than we were paying at Rivergate Marina. Good on you Mike! Rivergate is a nice marina, with a fair sized Chandlery nearby, but it’s located in the industrial part of Brisbane with no access to busses, trains or ferries… there are no supermarkets or the like nearby, and the only option one has is to catch an expensive taxi to the nearest shopping centre or into the city. Dockside here we come! 

4 November - Moving either into or out of a marina in the Brisbane River, should really only be done at slack tide whilst you’re in full control. If you get the timing wrong whilst the river is running – well let’s just say it could make for some interesting times, both on the stress levels and possibly even the bank balance!

As we wound our way up the serpentine aquatic highway towards the city, we were impressed by the snazzy riverside properties, City Cat Ferries zoomed past (clearly they were out of the slow zone!) with tourists jam-packed on the front taking pictures. As we neared the city and the marina, the skyline changed and instead there were many tall high rises that all appeared to be apartment blocks! It took us just over an hour to get to Dockside, Mike and Lynn took our lines and then came aboard to hear all about our weekend in Sydney.

 We were very central and ideally located… from our cockpit we had a view of Story Bridge – walking across it would take us to China Town in Fortitude Valley. If we were adventurous and fancied a 10km walk, we could walk to China Town and then into the city from there (we actually did this walk twice!). Stepping off the boat, up the dock and turning right onto the very well maintained boardwalk we could walk under Story Bridge and follow the path all the way to South Bank, which is around 7.5kms. South Bank is opposite the northern end of the city centre, and the popular shopping area of Queen Street. The ferries stop at all these places and more along the way – so it’s very easy to get around Brisbane. The busses are an entirely different story… around town and including surrounding suburbs, the busses have their own network of tunnels – so they’re not stuck in road traffic. It’s just unbelievable! The trains are also super efficient and just a pleasure to catch if you need to get to outerlying areas (I loved the “journey planner” on the Translink website). Brisbane was very much an eye-opener as all the above activities could be done any time of day or night without safety being a problem.  Some general info on Queensland:A Melbourne journalist once observed Queensland was so different from the rest of Australia that it was a surprise that you didn’t need a visa to go there. There are houses on stilts, the tropical vegetation and flowering trees with musical names like frangipani, jacaranda and poiciana… the heat and vivid light, the vast distances, and the people themselves are so much more laid-back, friendly and direct than southerners, made it seem like another country. Space is something Queenslanders take for granted – it’s 670 000 sq miles, making it 2 ½  times the size of Texas – and with just over 4 million, that means there is one square kilometre of space for every 2.3 people! There’s around 1.8 million living around Brisbane, leaving 2.2 million spread around rural towns and cities. It has become a magnet for outsiders and is currently the fastest growing state in Australia. Despite its rapid growth, Brisbane, Australia’s third largest city, still offers a slower and less complicated lifestyle than Sydney or Melbourne. It’s a very active city and commuters will often have on pair of trainers, or be cycling to work. It’s also quite normal to be greeted by passers-by… rather unusual in a big city. Come weekend and the general community still tends to dress down… flip-flops and shorts remain a common sight. The women seem to be more feminine in that many wear dresses (maybe it’s the heat!), anyway… from sundresses, to oh-so-uncomfortably short ones, to cocktail dresses to Melbourne Cup dresses… the clothing rails in stores are generally groaning with gorgeous dresses! Nature has a powerful presence even in the middle of the city where there are thriving mangroves on the river banks; and with seagulls, hawks, cormorants and pelicans on the river. In bush suburbs only 20 minutes away from the city centre there are poisonous brown snakes. Backyard hens’ eggs can be taken by carpet snakes, while the deadly redback spider can live in gardens and under houses in the inner city. And there is another natural danger. Living in some of the most intense sunlight on earth, Queenslanders (surprisingly!) have the world’s highest rate of skin cancer. But the fair-skinned are learning that it is no longer fashionable to baked brown! Ken and I were talking about this just the other day, the fact that we just don’t seem to see tanned people around. I was quite relieved that we’d lost our Fiji tans as we could be getting stared at – not for our gorgeous tans, but for being so stupid! We now wear hats on most days and cover up with sensible clothing (Columbia makes great UVA/B proof shirts which are amazingly cool to wear). Better safe than sorry. Brisbane’s recognition of the value of its architectural heritage came too late to save many iconic buildings destroyed during the development frenzy of the 80’s… but those that remain are in remarkably pristine condition. Mmmmm England can learn a thing or two from the Ozzie’s in this regard! Its cultural scene has apparently blossomed visibly over recent decades, and the city is now home to a fine symphony orchestra; an accomplished ballet, professional opera and theatre companies, as well as an active art and literary scene. The city has nurtured alternative venues devoted to cutting-edge performances and exhibitions. It also attracts many international rock stars and major events, but it would be an exaggeration to portray mainstream Queenslanders as voracious culture vultures. Thanks to a sunny outdoor lifestyle, the arts play second fiddle to sport! Aussie lingo is a colourful language that seems to baffle some people no-end, and for some reason they have to shorten just about every word, particularly people’s names! They are generally shortened to one syllable if possible, and then have a suffix added to the end. Here are a few examples:Football – footy. Elizabeth – Lizzy. Christmas – Chrissy. Registration – rego. Smoke break – smoko. Marion – Maz. Alligator-pear is an avocado. Amber fluid – beer. Afternoon – arvo. Carburetor – carbie. Dead horse – tomato sauce. Garbage man – garbo. Salvation Army – Salvo. Arse over tit – to fall over. Argy bargy – argument. Airy fairy – vague. Any tick of the clock – very soon. Adam’s ale – water. One of the best Aussieisms: Onya – good on you!! There are fears that overdevelopment and too rapid a rate of population increase could destroy much of the state’s great natural beauty and lifestyle. A local environmentalist who has devoted her life to preserving Queensland’s natural heritage says that her joy at seeing so much preserved has been tinged with a sense of tragedy at the amount of destruction in the southeast of the state. Meanwhile, the developers gleefully rub their hands!!! Sadly it’s all about supply and demand… that said, so is the carbon footprint issue… unfortunately money is king at the end of the day.  

Okay so here’s what we got up to:

15 November - Monster Trucks – having only ever seen them on television, we thought it would make a fun evening out, and it also happened to be the “world finals”! Relying on public transport we set out 3 hours earlier to ensure we would not be late as we’d have to catch a ferry, leg it to Central Station, catch a train, and then leg it to the venue. The indoor arena was packed and the atmosphere quite electric! It kicked off with a very impressive laser light show, and then it was time for the trucks… oh my goodness, they were HUGE and the noise was just about deafening (there were actually earplugs on sale!!).  No video cameras were allowed, but everyone was filming clips on their mobile phones and digital cameras. An American won – which was no surprise as they have been racing monster trucks for many years, and apparently this is a fairly new “sport” to Australia, but taking on quite well. Was definitely worth the effort!  The South Bank Precinct has become the inner-city playground of parks, tropical gardens, lagoons, restaurants and boutiques. The precinct’s most popular attraction is Streets Beach, a large swimming lagoon where the essential elements of beach culture have been replicated: white sand, lapping water, lifeguards, bikini-wearers and small children with buckets and spades. It’s great on a sunny day (and there are many of those!!) to walk along the boardwalk shared by a continuous stream tourists and locals. They also have a smaller version of the “London Eye”! We’d finally caught up to our Belgium friends Roger and Lucie, on a catamaran called Catimini – we last saw them in 2004 in Venezuela… so it was a very nice surprise when they called to say they too were coming to Dockside Marina. We spent many days showing them around Brisbane and spent just as many evenings catching up over sundowners! A friendship that certainly has stood the test of time! 5 Dec - Cirque du Soleil’s touring show “Dralion” started in Brisbane on 27 November and unfortunately would not be on in Sydney, so we postponed our departure as we really wanted to see another one of their amazing shows. We’d seen them in Las Vegas (the show was called Ka) and were totally blown away by it. I’d emailed the info to our friends on Linger Longer and Papillon who them promptly bought tickets for the same afternoon… we met up for dinner and wine after. Cirque du Soleil is French for “Circus of the Sun” and was founded in 1984 by two former street performers with only a few cents to rub together. Now they’re a multi-billion dollar organisation delivering performances in many parts of the world – with 7 permanent shows in Las Vegas! Basically it’s a circus without the animals… highly trained acrobats, tumblers and dancers perform incredible and almost unbelievable acrobatic feats right before your very eyes – in costumes that are out of this world. All shows are themed, fast-paced and loaded with humour. A must-see if you ever get the opportunity!! To catch a glimpse of what it’s about go to: www.cirquedusoleil.com and watch one of their videos. 

After 2 weeks of the worst storms Brisbane had seen in years (actually since some cyclone in the 80’s) – locals were spent trying to salvage what was not washed away, and we spent those two weeks hauling big logs, stumps and branches out from around the boat that had arrived with the incoming tide. The mulch that the locals use in the gardens was everywhere and managed to block our toilets and refrigeration pumps. It was such a pain!! The ferries even stopped operating for 2 weeks at night as it was impossible to dodge big logs!!

 13 Dec - The City Council have erected about 6 covered “eating areas”, electric BBQ’s, and running water for cleaning up, in the park located under the Story Bridge, right next to the river. One is able to use these facilities for free!! What a great idea… and a nice way to spend a Saturday afternoon - with old and new friends! We’d also discovered DFO (Direct Factory Outlet) – trust me to find a bargain!! Anyway, it’s a huge outlet mall selling branded clothing and home ware at around 70% less than on the high street. We were thrilled to get Columbia tops for $35 instead of $65… I also found THE most comfortable slip on shoes… so comfy I went back, and now have 3 pairs! For the first time my big feet weren’t a problem as there were mainly large sizes!! Lucie bought a big range of Corelle crockery at a hugely discounted price. We are also the proud owners of a down duvet (yes we do use it in Aus!) as well as super comfy latex pillows!! We were introduced to another great deal by friends on Cyan… Telstra (like Vodacom/Virgin mobile, etc) sell a pre-paid wireless USB modem for $149 – without a fixed term contract. Their coverage, at 99%, is the best in Australia too. The credit will expire in 30 days, so if you top up before it expires whatever credit you have left over will get carried over to the following month at whatever rate you have just topped up with. Very nifty setup indeed and it works like a charm… used it at about 8nm offshore just the other day! Here’s the link: http://www.telstra.com.au/telstraprepaidplus/broadband/prepaidwireless.html About 2 weeks before leaving Brisbane I’d heard that Coles supermarket were offering free home deliveries (obviously pushing to encourage online shopping!)… well what a treat to have someone else schlep 18 bottles of soda water, 18 litres of tonic water, 18 litres of long life milk, and other odds and ends, directly to the boat!!! Ordinarily we’d have to do the shop, try and find a taxi back to the marina, then lug it all the way back to the boat. Absolutely exhausting! Online shopping is effortless and so easy… this is the way to shop for sure!! Ken managed to get everything he need from the Whitworths Chandlery, including a new VHF. Whilst he was fiddling and fixing things on the boat I was sewing! I finally decided to make 3 strong and durable shopping bags out of sunbrella and spinnaker cloth… quite a job, but I’m chuffed with the results!   As we got to know Brisbane more and more we’ve ended up falling in love with it. The people are fantastic and very helpful, and always have a smile on their faces. It’s very similar to Durban and Cape Town… perhaps that’s why South African’s fit right in here! We also loved the fact that we always felt safe… it might sound strange to some, but I never had that feeling growing up in South Africa. Everyone has a wonderful sense of freedom here and it’s very alluring! As for our wonderful sense of freedom – let’s hope we are going to have a good trip down to Sydney! We intend being there for Christmas, and being able to spend some time with Russel and Cheryl. Whilst safely anchored somewhere in harbour we’ll be marvelling at the fireworks display on Sydney Harbour Bridge on New Years Eve as we bid farewell to yet another year! But for now it’s cheers Brissy, see you again in February!    



Next: COFFS HARBOUR
Previous: Australia here we come!


Diary Photos
1st Nov 2008  Nice aerial shot of Sydney...
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1st Nov 2008  Us and the birthday girl!
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2nd Nov 2008  Walk along the coastline to Bondi Beach
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15th Nov 2008  Impressive laser light show...
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15th Nov 2008  Waiting for the show to start... although we were not bored for a minute!
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15th Nov 2008  Another one of the competitors
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15th Nov 2008  How cool is this truck... it's eyes even lit up!!!
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15th Nov 2008  HUGE fire-blowing car door crunching dinosaur
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15th Nov 2008  And more action!
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15th Nov 2008  And yet more action!
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15th Nov 2008  Another great action shot!
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15th Nov 2008  What is a Monster Truck show without a silly demolition derby at the end?!
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22nd Nov 2008  Free street performace in China town...
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22nd Nov 2008  Mulch and other debris that we pushed away almost daily using boathooks
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22nd Nov 2008  More mulch... is it coming or going!?
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22nd Nov 2008  Fast Forward in the Dockside Marina
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22nd Nov 2008  View from Story Bridge - looking down the river towards the marina
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23rd Nov 2008  Gorgeous fire tree...
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23rd Nov 2008  Street Beach on left, river and then city...
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23rd Nov 2008  Street Beach... these are chlorinated pools by the way
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23rd Nov 2008  Another good idea to keep Brisbane beautiful and unusual...
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28th Nov 2008  L-R: Lucie, Lynn, Us; Roger on his knees! Chuck taking the pic... they visited us from Manly Marina
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28th Nov 2008  Entrance to China Town
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28th Nov 2008  Street Beach... lifeguards and all!
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28th Nov 2008  Street Beach, South Bank... very well done and an exceptionally good idea!
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29th Nov 2008  Boats on pilings in front of the Botanic Gardens...
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29th Nov 2008  Another impressive storm on the way... this one was jam-packed with lightning!!
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30th Nov 2008  The old and the new!
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30th Nov 2008  Brisbane's Christmas tree
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30th Nov 2008  Very good street show put on by brilliant Aussie acrobats...
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30th Nov 2008  Impressive - I don't know anyone who can do this!!
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3rd Dec 2008  City Council FINALLY collecting the logs we'd been hauling out the river for 2 weeks!!
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5th Dec 2008  How's the guy on the bench!! Very well done indeed!
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5th Dec 2008  Another very cool piece of art!
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5th Dec 2008  Impressive underground bus terminal
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5th Dec 2008  How amazingly clean is this underground bus terminal?!
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7th Dec 2008  Brisbane's City Cat (these are the fast ferries)
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7th Dec 2008  Story Bridge
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7th Dec 2008  Nice view of bridge and city in the background
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7th Dec 2008  Love these guys!!
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7th Dec 2008  Like this pic!
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7th Dec 2008  View down the river - Dockside Marina is on the right...
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7th Dec 2008  How cool are these wisemen?! All made entirely from cardboard!!
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7th Dec 2008  Some more quirky sculptures around the city
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7th Dec 2008  Wolfman? Has a backpack and all! Not sure about the branch though...
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7th Dec 2008  All things shiny!
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7th Dec 2008  Wolfman from a different angle...
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7th Dec 2008  Huge tree blown over in one of Brisbane's many hectic storms... pic taken from Story Bridge
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13th Dec 2008  Ken and Ray... probably talking about boats again!
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13th Dec 2008  Gorgeous BBQ area facing the river and city...
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13th Dec 2008  Is this a type of Ibis? They're scrounging in bins all over city. This one was trying his luck...
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13th Dec 2008  L-R: Ray & Marilyn; Linda; Lucie; Tony; us - Lucie's other half Roger was taking the pic.
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13th Dec 2008  Time for dessert!!! His timing was perfect I might add!!
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13th Dec 2008  The walk back to Dockside Marina from Story Bridge
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14th Dec 2008  Christmas party time... one option is this party boat called "the island" - cruising up the river
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14th Dec 2008  What a fabulously huge tree this is!
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14th Dec 2008  Brisbane's City Ferry taking a break
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14th Dec 2008  The BBQ area from the river/city
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14th Dec 2008  Fast Forward in the marina...
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14th Dec 2008  How cool is our Christmas flag!!!
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14th Dec 2008  Gorgeous Christmas Angel on Queen Street... fantastic piece of artwork this was!
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14th Dec 2008  Street artist on Queen Street...
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14th Dec 2008  Street performer... he was very good, and quite funny too!!
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14th Dec 2008  Amazingly huge Ferrero Rocher christmas tree at Myer Centre... imagine it was all chocolate!!!
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15th Dec 2008  Again more of the old and new, but what a beautiful old church!
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15th Dec 2008  Absolutely awesome glass teddy, about 50cms tall, part of int Ranamok Glass expo at Museum
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16th Dec 2008  Tangolooma anchorage.... very pretty at the sun is setting.
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