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Brisbane Trip Report (May 2009)

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Brisbane Trip Report (May 2009)

At long last, I am posting the trip report from my 2-week Australian vacation earlier this year. I started in Sydney and continued on to Canberra, Melbourne, Cairns, and Brisbane. Below is the Brisbane section of my trip. Note that any unfamiliar references probably refer to the San Francisco Bay Area, which is where I live. Enjoy!

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Friday, May 8

The day began entirely too early with the 4:10 Sun Palm bus to the airport. Check in was a bit slow, but my flight didn’t leave until 6 so I took my time. The Jetstar flight was uneventful, and we arrived in Brisbane a little before 8. I walked out of the terminal, checked my e-mail on the train platform using free wireless, and caught the Airtrain to Central Station. A short walk later, I was at the Marriott. I checked in, switched into shorts, and dropped off my bags before heading out to explore. My first stop was the bustling Queen Street Mall, where curiosity led me to a biscuit, hash browns, and orange juice from Hungry Jack’s. The food wasn’t as good as the Burger King equivalent.

Food consumed, I circled around the CBD for a few minutes by foot then caught the Free Loop bus for an orientation to downtown Brisbane. I got off at City Hall to visit the clock tower and made it to the top in time for the noon bells. Afterward, I walked through the QUT campus and across the Goodwill Bridge to South Bank. I found South Bank to be surprisingly charming, with an arbor walkway and a man-made swimming lagoon. I stopped at New Zealand Natural for a “Chocochillo” and then carried on to the Cultural Centre Busway Station. I caught Route 115 for a short ride across the Victoria Bridge to the underground Queen Street Bus Station. I surfaced and walked to the North Quay ferry terminal and caught the City Cat to Riverside, where I alighted to return to the hotel.

Once formally checked in, I walked back to the Eagle Street Pier and caught the City Ferry back to South Bank. I stopped at Brumby’s for a pesto scroll then returned to the City Cat terminal and rode back to Riverside. I changed into pants then caught the bus to Fortitude Valley for dinner around 8:00. I suppose I had higher expectations for the neighborhood, so I made my way down Brunswick Street in search for dinner. Down in New Farm, I finally decided to eat Indian food at Karma. The food was good but not exceptional; at least it was cheaper than Spicy Bite in Cairns. I returned to my hotel by bus around 10 and fell asleep not long afterward.

Saturday, May 9

I slept in until about 9, got ready, and left the hotel in search of breakfast. As expected, weekend dining options in the CBD were limited, and I ended up in the Myer Centre along the Queen Street Mall and at Gloria Jean’s once again. This time I finally got to try the mango and yogurt smoothie with muesli. As satisfied as one could expect to be from such an item, I boarded Route 445 at 10:54 en route to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary.

We arrived a little before 11:30, and I quickly paid and made my way in. Turns out the sanctuary has a wide variety of animals unique to Australia, which made me glad I opted to visit it rather some place(s) in Kuranda. I snacked on nachos and Schweppes lemonade after taking in the unique birds, dingoes, and of course koalas. (A wild turkey tried to eat my camera during the food consumption process.) I explored the kangaroo and emu area afterward, where I was lucky enough to touch a couple kangaroos and a wallaby. Then it was koala cuddle photo time! I made my way out and caught the 2:20 Route 445 back towards the city.

I alighted across the street from the Regatta ferry terminal and caught the 2:59 City Cat to the University of Queensland. After a brief look-around, I caught the 3:30 City Cat to the QUT terminal. I walked through campus and to the Botanic Gardens, where I stuck primarily to the riverside and lily pond areas, then walked back to the hotel. After a short break and a change into pants, I caught the 6:08 City Cat to New Farm Park. I walked around a bit, and even though I spotted a couple restaurants that sounded interesting enough, I decided to catch Route 199 to Fortitude Valley. I had a quirky veggie burger with hot chips at a franchise called Grill’d, then hopped on Route 199 for a short ride back into New Farm. I picked up a thickshake at Baskin Robbins then bought breakfast at IGA.

Rather than take the bus back to the hotel, I opted to check out an interesting river walk I had spotted from the ferry on my way to New Farm. After a bit of a challenge getting to it, I walked along the totally awesome Floating Walkway (and then past a couple vacant warehouses) back to the hotel, where I was greeted by a timely fireworks display at 9:30. I watched videos on Max and eventually fell asleep.

Sunday, May 10

I was up at about 7:30, and after a shower and packing, I was out the door with plenty of time to catch the 9:11 Airtrain from Central Station. I ate breakfast (muffin and iced coffee) then hopped on the train, where I ate my banana while standing in the check-in line. Then it was off on the plane once more, this time from BNE to LAX. The food was better this time around, and I made it a point to watch Gran Torino and Milk. I was satisfied with the former, but the latter was not as good as I had hoped. Not much rest was to be had, and I certainly felt more cramped this time. Oh well.

Arrival at LAX was uneventful, but my 10:00 American Airlines connection to SFO was a fiasco. First it ran late due to mechanical problems, by 11:30 or so everyone was off the plane, and the flight was finally canceled at 12:30. I then spent two hours standing in line at the customer service desk for a re-booking. I was put on the 6:45 flight to San Jose but managed to make the 3:50 plane, albeit my checked duffel bag went to SFO anyway. At least I had my food vouchers to keep me company. I caught VTA to BART to get home just before 8:00, and my luggage was dropped off at 9:30. Phew, what a day!

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My first trip out of North America was a success! Next year's stop? Probably Europe. And my next trip to Australia? Definitely going back to Brisbane first! To be continued. :)

Brisbane, Australia
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1. Re: Brisbane Trip Report (May 2009)

Wow Davdaven,

Great trip report. You dont actaully come out and say it but I'm sensing that you did in fact really enjoy your visit to Brisbane ??

Your attention to detail is incredible. Did you write down every single thing you ate and every outfit change, lol ?

Great to see you really embraced local transport and got out and explored the City. It sounds like you now know more about inner city transport options than I do.

On an aside, few of us like Hungry Jacks either. So sorry we didnt get to give you some great breakfast/dining options to save you visiting chain coffee shops and convenience stores. Oh well, next time.

This will be very helpful for some of our future visitors. Thanks for taking the time to share - we will no doubt be referring this on regularly.

Berkeley, California
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2. Re: Brisbane Trip Report (May 2009)

Yes, I did really enjoy my visit to Brisbane. I wrote my trip report the night of each day, which is why it's organized by day. I read it back yesterday as I edited it for posting, and the narrative is a bit odd. One would expect more on the scenery, less on the food, and nothing on the clothing changes, right? Well, this is only the second trip report I've written, so I'm still working on getting them to make sense. :)

I've found that my biggest "regret" with every trip I take is not doing sufficient research on dining options. It's hard to say where exactly I'll be wherever I go, so I could easily write down a hundred places to eat and not end up near any of them! Throw in the fact that I'm vegetarian and things get very complex very fast. (Often, good meat-serving restaurants have terrible vegetarian food and vice versa, so restaurant directories have limited usefulness.)

I missed out on a lot of what Brisbane has to offer, I'm sure, and didn't make it to the Gold Coast or Sunshine Coast at all, but hopefully this helps fellow travelers at least slightly. Cheers!

Brisbane, Australia
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3. Re: Brisbane Trip Report (May 2009)

such a shame - one my favourite lunch places in the city is called Govindas. Its vegetarian ( run by hari-krishnas) and has a fantastic all you can eat $8 buffet - including a drink & dessert! its funny to see all the corporate workers lined up in their suits every day ;)

oh well, know you've discovered how useful TA can be so next time you're dining experiences should be alot more enjoyable.

cheers

;)

Surfers Paradise...
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4. Re: Brisbane Trip Report (May 2009)

Great trip report davdaven!

Good to see Brissy was a favorite as it is often overlooked as a great place to visit! ;)

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5. Re: Brisbane Trip Report (May 2009)

Great rip report.

You certainly made the most of our public transport.

Sydney, Australia
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6. Re: Brisbane Trip Report (May 2009)

I'm glad that you took the time to write such interesting reports. You certainly covered a lot of ground while you were here.

Come back soon

Uden, The...
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7. Re: Brisbane Trip Report (May 2009)

Thanks for all these reports David. Enjoyed reading them and if you should go out of the cities maybe try a picnic once and a while next time. So many gorgeous places for that in Australia. I fully agree about South Bank. Actually we had a picnic there some years ago but also had a great meal at a Thai Restaurant. Riding the City Cat was fun and easy, even to us. For your next trip (Europe?) you should visit Holland, it's a paradise for those who love public transport-lol-

Tet

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8. Re: Brisbane Trip Report (May 2009)

Thanks for sharing David, I'm glad you enjoyed Brisbane..I enjoyed reading your reports.

I'm totally amazed how much public transport you used in each city.

Cheers,

EM ☺

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9. Re: Brisbane Trip Report (May 2009)

Excellent trip report!

I am very happy to read your portion of Brisbane because my husband and I will be going there in November. On some other boards, I've been really reading a lot about "don't go to Brisbane, matey...go to Melbourne!" We are going to spend 14 nights there and we knew we were going to Sydney, but not sure where the other week would be. Well, my husband choose Brisbane and now I read a lot of posts where that might not have been the best decision.

So, I wonder since you've been to both--what are your thoughts if you had to select one (Melbourne or Brisbane).

The first day or so we'll be getting over the jetlag (we leave SFO @ 11:00 p.m. on a Wednesday (Oct 28) and land in Sydney on Friday @ 7:00 a.m. (Oct 30), make our way over to the domestic airport and fly over to Brisbane @ 11:00. We too are staying at the Marriott in Brisbane.

It appears that your time is Brisbane was short (2 full days), but we'll be there for 6 nights and have a car on the 3rd day there, then drive over to Sydney, stopping off 3 nights between Brisbane to Sydney.

I think the other difference is we are Plat. w/Marriott so we'll have breakfast taken care of in the a.m.

Was the Koala bear thing as neat as you thought it might be or not so much. I mean, do you just hold it for 2 seconds or do they let you spend a little time with it. I got to hold a Sloth in Columbia one year and I will never forget it. I so wanted to take it home with me (we are animal freakazoids...so I think we are going to the right country!!!).

I was giddy when I read that you actually got to "touch" a kangaroo! How cool.

Thanks for posting your trip.

Dawn

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10. Re: Brisbane Trip Report (May 2009)

Hi Dawn,

I know your questions are directed at davdaven but I hope you wont mind me jumping in briefly.

The Melbourne vs Brisbane debate is always difficult - its a bit like going to LA and then saying San Fran or San Diego ?? Both very different places. We are huge fans of Melbourne and try to get down there a couple of times a year for shopping and amazing restaurants which are the 2 things I beleive it has over Brisbane.

October, however is probably when Brisbane is at its best. All our Jacaranda trees will be in bloom ( google them they are stunning)- this only happens for approx 8 weeks each year. The weather should be warm and sunny with little rain. Most people with 6 days would probably think about going up to the Sunshine Coast for a night or two ( 1 hour north) which has amazing beaches, cafes, beachside villages etc...Noosa is particularly popular and usually full of people from Melbourne, lol !

The Gold Coast is also popular ( 1 hr south) but as you are driving that way to Sydney you can stop by there on the way.

Also, seeing as you wont get to tropical North Queensland on this trip Brisbane can offer you a mini-tropical experience that is the polar opposite of either Syndey or Melbourne. See this recent thread about our local rainforest ;

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g255068-i461-k2967…

Re: Lone Pine - I have never met anyone who doesnt love it. In fact it was recently named in the top 100 zoos of the world. You do only get to hold the koalas briefly while your picture is taken - they are very sucseptible to illness etc...and their handling must be very limited - but they are gorgeous and you can see 100's of them up close. The kangaroo/wallaby section is free-range so yes you will literally be walking aroung patting and playing with hundreds of them. Its funny to see the enormous Red ones lying back against the fence watching the tourists like it is all soooooooooo boring. There are also very tame emus.

I hope thats helps a little more.