BRISBANE: NEW FRIENDS, LOGAN AND THE FAMOUS KOALA PICTURE

It feels like far too long since I last wrote a blog post. I’ve spent the last week in Brisbane and I have loved every day I have been here. It feels the mostly homely place I’ve been. Apparently people say – Melbourne is for the backpackers, Sydney is for the workers and Brisbane is for the families, and I totally get that about Brisbane.

The reason why I liked this city so much might also have something to do with the friends I made as well. I arrived in my 4 bed mixed dorm to meet Louis, the first French friend I have made on this trip! Ben was also already in the room, and Graham arrived later. Ben was telling us he had just seen the new movie, Logan… Graham and I were instantly jealous and so decided to go ourselves that evening! Graham met another guy, Ed, in the hostel somewhere and suddenly we had a spontaneous group outing to the cinema!

I absolutely love the Marvel and X-Men franchise and Logan was just perfect. The storyline was admittedly kind of predictable… But it was executed beautifully. The night time walk to and from the cinema gave me my first impression of Brisbane; stunning with all the lights, the river and buildings. I instantly loved the place. So the next day was spent exploring more during the day. Not going to lie, I did prefer the scenery at night, but that didn’t take away the beauty of the rainforest walk and the lagoon.

Graham and Ben had checked out, so I came back to the hostel to find two new room mates who were already talking to Louis. Hannah and Leo from London! They had literally just arrived in Australia and so were consequently jet lagged. That night, remembering how rough that first night in Aus is, I left the light off for them to get some sleep.

Saturday, I wasn’t 100% sure what I was going to be doing that day. I had the idea of going to this place called Kangaroo Point Cliffs Park. Leo and Hannah were not really sure what to do themselves, so said they would join me. I asked Louis if he wanted to come to; he was thinking of going to the botanical gardens and so we decided to go on a dorm outing together to the park then the gardens! It was cute!

There is a free city ferry hopper (red, not blue!) which takes you to the different places down the river. Pretty useful! And you see some awesome views of the city. So we went to Kangaroo Point first; it was nice and pretty, but we couldn’t find a great deal to do there, so we soon left to go the botanical gardens. This place was so beautiful and felt like we were in a jungle, until we came across what looked like a student fair and Leo joined in playing football on this bouncy castle thing.

The next day, Louis suggested getting a bus to the top of Mount Coot-tha to look at the view of Brisbane. It was an easy half hour bus ride to the top of the mountain – no climbing involved! But we did have to wait about an hour for the bus! I kind of expected to be in the middle of some sort of forest with this big clearing where the summit was, but it wasn’t like that at all. There was a shop and restaurant, but it didn’t stop the view from being incredible. I know what I didn’t expect, and that was to be able to see the whole of the city from where we stood.

Once we got the bus back to the city, we went to the lagoon. This is like a man-made beach in the middle of the city by the river, surrounded by palm trees. I think this is to make up for the fact Brisbane doesn’t have a beach nearby, so they made their own! It’s so pretty and weird to look at. It kind of reminded me on Surfers Paradise; beach with a landscape full of tall buildings. Strange but awesome.

Whilst on this beach area, Louis was giving us puzzles to solve. One of them was this: 1, 11, 21, 1211, 111221… See if you can figure out what comes next? No cheating!

On the walk home across the main bridge at South Bank, we spotted a storm in the distance. We could see the flashes of lightening in the clouds. It was amazing. We just stopped and watched it for a while.

That night we had burgers and beer from the downstairs bar. The chips that came with were the best chips I had had in a long time! It was as though they had been battered then fried. I was happy! Although we could choose our own music, it was too loud to hear each other speak, so we went back to the dorm where Louis taught us some card tricks – can’t wait to try these out on the next travellers I meet! Though I probably won’t be able to pull them off as well.

On Monday we got up early, waking Louis up 5 hours earlier than usual, to go to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. This is such a cute little place! We saw dingoes and wombats, platypus and Tasmanian devils, and of course kangaroos and koalas. I had my picture taken with a koala called Tinkerbell, the largest female koala in the sanctuary. She was beautiful; so soft and cuddly I wanted to keep her. I couldn’t stop giggling as the keeper placed her in my arms and Tinkerbell clung to me. That was the longest anyone had hugged me for a while as well, so I think that added to my excitement.

I can totally recommend visiting this place if you’re in Brisbane (And thanks Katherine for recommending it to me!) It takes 45 mins on the bus, costing around $5.70 (cheaper with a gocard). I think it was $36 for adult entry, so not too expensive. They have an open area for kangaroos and emus and wallabies to roam around and you can feed them. I felt bad bothering the Roos on such a hot day, but I couldn’t resist getting a selfie with one of them.

Hannah and Leo had an orientation that afternoon and Louis was desperate to go back to sleep, so I went into the main shopping area, originally to find a post office to send my postcards home, something which I failed at. So I went shopping instead and actually found some decent pieces in the Cotton On and H&M sales. This included a new romper at $5!!! Equals to around £3! I was very happy with myself, and before anyone says anything, I do have room in my backpack… just about. (NB: Just arrived in Noosa, and I can happily say they did fit, however it was a struggle putting the backpack on my back when catching the bus.)

The next day, today for me still, we went to Australia Zoo!!!!!!! Louis left us this morning, so sadly he couldn’t come with us, but we met Holly at the train station! Yay!!! It was such an effort to get there… we could have either spent $95 on the Greyhound, over a hundred dollars on a different tour, or get there ourselves. We got their ourselves and somehow didn’t get lost. We got the train from Roma Street Station to Beerwah, taking roughly 1 1/2 hours, and then the zoo does a free shuttle bus from Beerwah station to the zoo, taking literally a couple of minutes down the road. The train tickets cost us just under $11 for one way and then the zoo ticket cost us $59. So really, it worked out the cheapest option.

We got there just in time for main show at the crocoseum which turned out to be this small amphitheatre with a grassy area and pond in the middle as centre stage. We watched as birds flew around and snakes were shown to the audience. At one point we were introduced to a presenter of the main show who had trained some birds and wanted to practice on the audience. She selected two people from the crowds (not even looking at me as I screamed and waved me hands about) and told them that when she gave them the go ahead, they were to hold their arms out and wave them, shouting ‘ka-kaaaar ka-kaaaar’. The presenter counted down from three, released the birds; the chosen two from the audience waved their arms and screamed ‘ka-kaaar ka-kaaaar’ and the birds… flew out of the stadium. With a look of panic, the presenter followed them, shouting ‘ka-kaaaar’ herself as she ran off the stage.

After this fiasco, they brought on the crocodile team along with their biggest croc, Albert. I’ve held the tail of a crocodile before in Gambia, but that was nothing compared to how big Albert was. You could see him under the water, creeping into the pond. It reminded me a bit of the croc in Peter Pan; that used to scare me. The crocodile team demonstrated Albert’s size and speed by bringing him out of the water and then dangling food for him to jump up and snap. It was actually quite scary!

When the show was over, Holly got her picture with a Koala. She was just as excited as I was the day before, giggling with excitement and I was almost tempting to get another picture! I thought I would save my money though. We spent the day walking around the rest of the zoo; they had four different sections for the different animals – Australia, Wetlands, Asia and Africa. My old housemate from University, Laura, taught me about the good qualities of a zoo, highlighting how it’s better for the animals to keep them in areas as close to their natural habitat as possible – more like conservation areas. (She did a placement at Chester zoo!). For me, Australia Zoo was a great example of this. They had great open areas with plenty of space, and that was just where the animals were ‘on display’. Once I’ve put my Brisbane video together, you’ll be able to see what I mean and how stunning it is.

My favourite animal by far were the tigers. Ever since I was little I have loved tigers; I used to have a massive toy sat at the end of my bed each night and another small one called Ty who I used to cuddle. There were a couple of keepers who were playing with the younger tigers in a large pool which came up against the glass screen. There was one keeper actually in the pool who was quite good looking, so I asked Holly what she thought if I asked this guy out on a date, will he introduce me to the tigers? She said she was thinking the same thing and when the keeper was close to us behind the glass, she asked whether she should mouth ‘You’re fit’ to him and then quickly realised he could hear her through the screen as he turned and smiled in our direction.

Overall, Australia Zoo was an amazing day out. Although it took some effort to get there and back, I knew it was one of those things I would regret if I hadn’t done it. Especially after so many of my friends back home have been and told me I must go!!
So that is Brisbane over and I can honestly say it will be a highlight of my trip. I will miss Louis, Leo, Hannah and Holly and hope they all have safe travels. For me, Fraser Island is just around the corner and words cannot describe how excited I am for my tour! First though, I am spending two nights each in Noosa and Hervey Bay, places I don’t really know too much about, but I’m sure will both be magical in their own ways. I will be back in Brisbane for two nights before I fly to NZ next month, so hopefully I will have time to explore the glasshouse mountains – somewhere my friend Chelsea highly recommended as she lived near Brisbane for a year!

Anyone I went to school with would probably tell you I was the least likely to go travelling solo. I was so shy and reserved and would have panic attacks when I was nervous. I mean, I still get a bit of anxiety now, but I have definitely relaxed a whole lot. People keep asking me WHY I decided to go travelling, as everyone has their own reason. I have a whole load of reasons, but the thing that really pushed me to go was this:

I had applied for a masters in Modern History at Warwick Uni. I was successful, but hesitant at accepting as I had an interview for a managers position at work and wanted to see how I felt after I found out the result of this. Unfortunately I did not get the job, but was on holiday at the time, so decided to accept my place at Warwick once I was home. However, when home, I found the deadline for accepting my position had past. At the time I was really annoyed at myself; I was trying to give myself an opportunity, but was held back by my own stupidity. But, I guess this wasn’t such a bad thing, because at that point I had made up in my mind that I was going to go travelling. And now, here I am!! It’s times likes these that make me believe in things such as fate and destiny, as cliche as that sounds. Not getting the managers position meant I could do as many hours as possible over Christmas, including 12 hour night shifts, to earn as much money as I could for my travels without the restriction of a salary. And I’m not going to lie, life is pretty sweet from where I’m standing. Or rather sitting as I’m now on my bus to Noosa.
Happy travels x
P.S. It has literally taken me the whole four hours I have been in Noosa to upload all the pictures and save this blog. The wifi is utter crap here, and 3G is the same, so if I go cold for a few days, you know why.

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