Trip Start Jun 18, 2008
72Trip End Ongoing
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We passed into Queensland without even realising. In the border town of Tweed Heads, it was literally a case of one side of the road being in New South Wales, the other Queensland. Very weird. The only way to tell (apart from a small border monument) was that the Queensland side of the road was comprised of tower blocks - something that spreads right up the coast to Surfers Paradise. we had arrived on Australias famous Gold Coast.
The Gold Coast comprises 100km of strip malls, theme parks, high rise hotels and just pure tacky fun. Why it wants to be like certain parts of Florida I have no idea, but thats the way they have chosen, and it works for them - the place was rammed all the way up to Brisbane
It was also home to the cheapest fuel we have seen in Australia - $1.22 a litre. Thats exactly a dollar cheaper than some places on our travels (outback WA and NT being the worst places. Back then we were filling up twice a day - had we been doing that here, we would be saving $140 a day).
Our introduction to Brisbane wasn't the best, really. We spent two hours trying to find a campsite, since the offical Queensland camping guide didn't bother to include maps with the campsites on - all other states have, which makes it fairly easily to find one. Nope, this just gave the address, so we had to drive to the suburb, then drive around it until we found a campsite. Sadly for us the place we ended up at, although lovely, was 25km south of Brisbane city centre, which wasn't ideal. It was also in a proper hole of a suburb, the walk to the nearby shopping precinct being one of pure intimmidation. People with backpacks are not usual around here, so we stuck out badly.
Then we tried to get into Brisbane city centre. If you have a campervan, I beg with you: Do Not Bother
So we drove all the way back to the campsite, and chose to use public transport. Lonely Planet reckons Brisbanes public transport is one of the best systems in Australia. No, no, no. We waited an hour for a bus to turn up, then it was expensive, slow and confusing to understand where to get back on. Timetables only state the times for major stops, so you have to estimate how far away you are from the major stop, then estimate when the bus may turn up. The return journey was ridicoulous - we ended up miles from the campsite in a dump of an area, late at night. Not good.
Also, the people on the busses
But it was worth it, as Brisbane was a nice place. Not a great deal to write home about, it's fairly similar to other Australian towns - the Botanical Gardens were nice; loads of cool grungy pubs (for me) or upmarket cafes (for Helen); old buildings like the Town Hall, Parliment House etc were nice to look at, especially juxtaposed with the huge skyscrapers being built just behind.
The Southbank area was especially nice. We walked over from the Botanical Gardens, accross the Goodwill Bridge. The Southbank area is basically like the Southbank in London - some performing arts centres, cool restaraunts, parklands (okay, thats not in the London version) etc. The walkways are covered with bright pink plants that look especially nice against the grey sky we've had for a few days
Near the large Ferris Wheel they have, was a free festival, something about raising green awareness. Had a bunch of fair trade stands, ethnic foods and green technology. Also had a few local bands that we stood and listened to, until the local hippies started dancing and I decided I couldn't be dealing with that.
Crossing back over the river to the central city area, it struck us that the skyline looks so much like London - the Ferris Wheel, Southbank, huge skyscrapers, the large river with it's busy marine traffic....and the grey sky. Very similiar indeed - or maybe we are both just longing for home? The later thought is false - London means work!
We also visited at the time of football international time, and the "Socceroos" were playing the mighty (ahem) Qatar in Brisbane. As a promo event, the whole team appeared in Queen Street Mall for a Q&A session, then a signing session
And that was pretty much Brisbane for us. All too brief, but we do have better places to get to...