Saturday 12 March 2016 to Monday 14 March 2016

On arriving in Brisbane we are able to proceed to the Sofitel Hotel and book in.  Disappointing news has developed as more current weather forecasts have become available.  Apparently it is going to rain tomorrow in Brisbane (see below to see if that comes true) and we may well see rain in Cairns and Uluru as well!  Whoever heard of that much rain in Australia?  On our way into Brisbane the driver tells us as a child they spent weekends at the long, long beaches in the area – the Gold Coast to the south of the City and the Sunshine Coast to the north side.  Not this weekend it seems.  The journey into Brisbane passes through Ascot which is dominated by two racecourses – one each side of the road.  One is currently being rebuilt and the other has no meeting today – which would otherwise have slowed the trip immensely.

Once unpacked we make use of the pool area, but it is already pretty overcast and so not much browning happens.  We are not doing well for room views as this is the second hotel where the area outside is dominated by a car park – although this one is largely empty!

This evening we have a buffet dinner in the main restaurant which has a wide selection of shellfish including the local speciality of Moreton Bay Bugs – the local delicacy.  Lots of mussels, prawns and oysters alongside this as well as some lobster is a great start to any meal – so two rounds of starters for me.  For me this was followed by part of a large local fish – like we would have a roast at a carvery at home and then some cheese.  There was also some smoked salmon and meats so breakfast is likely to be a treat as well.

Some photos of Brisbane and the Koalas are here.

On Sunday morning our booked trip is to the koala sanctuary at Lone Pine which is nearly 90 years old.  Jackie gets to hold a koala and we can admire the other animals they have added to the collection – a possum, kangaroos, snakes, duck bill platypus, dingo and Tasmanian devil plus many more koalas.

The Koala excursion photos are here.  Typical Koala interest in the crowd looks like this:


The booked trip is by boat along the river – 75 minutes each way.  Intermittent rain storms are encountered both ways (so the forecast was right) and it is lucky that Jackie decided to take her anorak with us as she had originally planned not to take it!  Although not entirely protected from the weather we only get a little wet – by contrast some of the other excursions sound as if they will have been outdoors the entire day.

On the outward journey there is a commentary as we travel up river pointing out some of the sights, including some huge river front mansions all of which have mooring points on the river as well, although few are used. Boats are kept in marinas in Brisbane as it is quicker to drive there than sail down the river.

There have been some severe floods along the river – most recently in 2011.  Back in the 20s/30s there were beaches on part of the river with all sorts of beach related activities – but these have now largely disappeared, despite the creation of a dam a long way upstream which can hold back a lot of the water.  Of course and historically the river may have flooded regularly – as with the rest of Australia the recorded history is not that long!

A wander along the South Bank area when we return leads to a further dampening and we return to the hotel and find once again that a 50Mb data limit does not go very far.  Facebook users get more for their free money than Flickr adherents.  I should explain that Australia has yet to grasp the concept of free wifi everywhere with easy logins and unlimited capacity.  Our experience of the availability of free wifi in the hotel in Melbourne was apparently unusual and here in Brisbane we can have either an hour or 50Mb.  Loading up a few pictures of Brisbane soon extinguishes my limit as they are going I suspect full size.  Jackie’s Facebook contributions get shrunk I suspect so she gets longer, although still runs out before the hour is up.

We walk through what seems to be a fairly busy shopping centre as we return to the hotel (around 4pm on a Sunday afternoon) – perhaps the Australians are not so wedded as yet to Internet shopping?  We do find another Ugg shop and Jackie is able to add a purple pair to her collection.

In the evening we are directed to the north bank by a member of the hotel staff and whilst our first choice restaurant is closed we select Jellyfish where we eat some good food (mainly fish once again – I have Mulloway, a white fish from Cairns) and watch the people and the river traffic go by.

We sleep better – I think we might finally be on Australian time.

Monday morning and time to pack as we resume our travels.  After breakfast I soon go through my two lots of Internet connection (phone and tablet) as I try to talk to the computer at home.  Team Viewer is the software of choice for this activity.  Getting the cloud to sync some audio files is not going to happen at the moment, so no Archers Omnibus or Cerys Matthews just yet.