Wednesday, September 11, 2013

A visit from friends

When you are away from home as long as we are (it has now been over four months) we do miss family and friends.  We were delighted to hear from Melbourne friends, Jocelyn and Greg, that they were staying in nearby Tamborine Mountains in their caravan.  We invited them to come to stay with us at The Gap for a few days and it was great that they took us up on that offer.

They arrived on Saturday and stayed through until Thursday morning.  They enjoyed their first experience of "house sitting" and particularly enjoyed sleeping in a lovely comfortable bed after the single beds in their caravan.  After travelling for a number of weeks they enjoyed just being able to "stay home" for a while without being on the constant move.  So Saturday was spent catching up while enjoying the lovely surroundings in the outdoor lounge area.

On Sunday we went into the city by bus and made a visit to South Bank Parklands.  It is situated on the south side of the Brisbane River and is seventeen acres of parkland.  This area has been beautifully developed and was the original site of the 1988 Expo.  One of the areas has lovely tropical plantings and apparently was one of the Expo pavilions which has been redeveloped.

We got off the bus in the centre of the city and walked down the main shopping precinct and across Victoria Bridge to South Bank.

Our first stop was at the Wheel of Brisbane but no one was that keen to ride so we kept walking.

From here we joined the Sunday afternoon crowds and wandered along the riverbank until we got to
Streets Beach.  This is a man made beach lagoon with sandy foreshore, rock pools,  and streams and is a very popular spot.  As it was a very warm afternoon there were lots of people in swimming and lounging around.  The beach, with its varying depths which are well sign written, is patrolled by lifeguards so very popular.  We certainly didn't have bathers or a picnic with us but we made a stop for an ice cream instead.

We continued walking through the picnic areas to the Queensland Maritime Museum.  We decided that visiting the museum wasn't on our list for the afternoon.  The museum is housed in one of the original pavilions from the World Expo and includes an exhibition of models from historic sailing ship, early cargo ships through to modern container ships, tankers and cruise liners.

After lots of walking we decided it was time to cruise the river so made our way down to the closest jetty.  The City Hopper was the first boat to call in - this is a free service that stops at about eight different terminals heading down stream from the city and operates on week-ends and public holidays.  We climbed on board the very full boat and soon we were passing under Story Bridge which is a well known heritage listed steel cantilever bridge spanning the river.  It provides vehicles, bicycles and pedestrians access between the northern and southern suburbs and is 74 metres high.   There is a very popular tourism Bridge Walk available which would certainly provide a different perspective of Brisbane but none of us wanted to be starters.
City Hopper
After travelling for about half an hour we got off the City Hopper at one of the stops and decided to take the City Cat back upstream.  The City Cat are catamarans and operate seven days a week and are the commuter service on the river and stop at some different terminals to the City Hopper.  We stayed on as we passed the central business district and headed further upstream to the last stop. There are sixteen major bridges that cross the river and they are all unique in design.

We were surprised at how fast the City Cat travels and is certainly a fun and inexpensive way to see the sights of the city.  There are a number of stops upstream and we travelled all the way to the last stop being the University of Queensland.  Here the attendant on the Cat explained that during the 2011 floods the water was over the height of the second roof level (at the top of the ramp) of the terminal.  This certainly gave us a good understanding of the devastation caused during these floods. Apparently many of the private jetties have not been replaced as yet.

On arrival back at North Quay we disembarked and walked back along the city streets to the bus to return to The Gap.  We were somewhat surprised to see some of the locals resting

Of course, the kangaroos were statues but from a distance they certainly looked authentic.

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