Charlotte met us at the airport and I think we all shed a tear or two. It was around mid day and I was all over the place with time and dates. We’d crossed the international date line and I think we’d gained a day. So we did in fact arrive the day we left!!
Our first view of Australia as we sped along the busy motorway showed us that it definitely looks more American than English. It appears to be a country with expansion in mind given all the building work going on.
The trip to Kalanga, in Marrumba Downs, where Charlotte and Brian live is about an hour away.
Their two bed semi detached bungalow is spacious, open plan living and we had our own bedroom, where I could finally unpack my bags properly. The next few days we spent catching up and talking about where we’d be visiting over the next couple of weeks while they were both on holiday. We also met Hank, their kitten recently rescued. I’m not a cat person but Hank is such a sweet little thing we couldn’t help but fall in love with him. Charlotte is like a fussy mother and afraid to let him out alone.
Our first trip out was into Brisbane City with Charlotte and we took the train from their local station at Petrie. The bus and train connections from where they live are excellent and unless absolutely essential people avoid driving into the city for work. I guess it’s like London. Charlotte takes the train to work daily and gets off about three stops from the city.
A half hour journey took us directly into the heart of Brisbane and it really is something. Brand spanking new; that’s how I’d describe it. Beautiful buildings, well laid out on a grid system and buzzing with people going about their daily business. Stopped off for coffee and Charlotte worked out that the closest I was going to get to an Americano would be a long black, so that’s what I had. Charlotte wore her jacket all day, feeling the spring weather pleasant but a little cool. We of course thought it was hot, just like a lovely summer’s day. We made our way towards the Botanical Gardens and again delighted at the care and attention applied to every detail. Walkways for pushchairs and wheelchairs, bicycle lanes everywhere, clearly marked. Brisbane, we discover as our journey unfolds, is no different to every other Australian city. They absolutely love the outdoors and everything and anything that makes that experience better is well catered for, from sports facilities to pristine public lavatories. Everywhere their brief history tells the story of how the country was colonised by the British and how they laid the foundations for the wonderful place it is today. I’m sure everyone of my generation knows somebody or has relations who left England/Ireland/Scotland or Wales on the £10 pom deal back in the 50’s and 60’s and that particular migration only ceased in the mid 1970’s. Today, Australia is becoming more diverse, more mulit-cultural. Their policy for immigration had always been fairly strict and ‘white european’ seemed to be the passport in. However, things move on and China now contributes massively financially, which does of course reflect in the growth of the asian communities within the large cities.
Once we’d made our way through the Botanical Gardens we ended up on the river. We walked along and caught a ‘free’ yes free ferry across the river. Like I said, everything has been thought through for the convenience of the public. Our boat trip was lovely giving us yet another perspective on the towering city. On the trip we passed by the Maritime Museum, which we decided we’d keep for another day. Ray and I did go back together to do that trip and I’ve included those photographs. That particular day it was our 42nd wedding anniversary and we had our lunch in a lovely Italian restaurant overlooking the river, just below the bridge. Every year I say I want to be somewhere different for our anniversary, which doesn’t always happen, but this year it did!