A Free Day In Brisbane

Tue. 2nd July 2019

Floor 27 our room with a view for breakfastThe travelling and flight from Darwin took up most of yesterday, so even we cannot fill a full blog post about that! Moving on to the next day, we knew little about Brisbane, so decided the simplest was to ask at the Tourist Information and the lovely lady there was full of ideas. She confirmed my idea of a walking route and added to it. My desire to go whale watching was met with less enthusiasm as bad weather had lead to cancellations over the last few days.

City HallIt was not far to the City Hall, an old building surrounded by skyscrapers and with an ice rink, of all things – it is, of course, the middle of winter here. The sign proudly states that Queensland is the only state capital to have a City Hall. All the others have town halls, how pedantic. The City Hall does house a free museum so we head in for a look. One small room gives a history of Brisbane and how it was named after a Scotsman born in 1773 named Sir Thomas Mackdougall Brisbane. There is also reference to the entire colony being a penal colony in the 1880s, which being 400km from the next nearest settlement made it quite remote and fit for purpose.

Artwork timeThe remainder of the museum housed the Brisbane Art Design exhibition (BAD) which was full of kids as the school holidays have just started. There were many hands-on exhibits and tables for kids own creations including cutting cardboard to make houses. Overhead was a Star Wars-like space ship and a cardboard boat constructed from all the individual house models. Other exhibits reminded us of a tame version of MONA in Tasmania. Whilst in the City Hall we signed up for the next available free tower tour, which was two hours away.

ANZAC SquareThis gave us time to continue exploring the CBD and we headed to see ANZAC Square and were amazed at how extensive the memorials, statues etc were. It even included two underground galleries with interactive screens full of personal stories from the wars. There was one gentleman who had come to see his story with a picture of himself aged 19. It was very moving and we could have spend a good few hours reading. The circular stone memorial above housed the eternal flame. Quite a green peaceful square in amongst the tall modern office blocks.

Anglican CathedralWe continued our walk in search of two more old buildings amongst the high-rise glass towers, being the Catholic and Anglican cathedrals. They are a few blocks apart with the Catholic Cathedral dating from 1850 and the Anglican from the 1900s. Quite modern by European standards and as we crept into the Catholic one we were surprised to see a wake in progress in one corner, whilst life and tourists continued around them. If you look carefully there are so many more churches of different denominations scattered around the streets. I have heard of the United church before but the Uniting is a new one to me.

View from clock towerKeeping an eye on the time, we scoot back for our tower tour to find it comprises of a group of two other families. We all almost fill the small lift taking us to the viewing floor, which is about 60m up in the air. Although the old City Hall is dwarfed by other buildings it still provides a good view over the city. It is not the smallest building as we look down on the aforementioned Uniting Church. The lift also stops level with the bells which were built in Loughborough, but we are not allowed out. The tour is over in fifteen minutes and the lady lift operator fills that time with her spiel about the tower, tailoring it for the kids as well as the adults. There was a free concert in the main auditorium on the ground floor but it clashed with out tower tour so we missed out.

City Hopper ferryAfter lunch I have one more free treat for us. There is the red City Hopper ferry which trundles up and down the river around the centre and out to Sydney Street wharf. This seems a good way to give our feet a rest and take in the sights from the water. The first stop is the Maritime museum which we may visit tomorrow so we decide to stay on the ferry around Kangaroo Point to the end of the route. Story Bridge looks interesting and we make a note to come back tonight when it is lit up.

South Bank, but not LondonThe Howard Smith Wharves are disappointing, as is Dockside and at Sydney Street, just as we have decided to stay put and take the same boat back,  we all have to troop off for a change of boat. The replacement boat is half the size and no seats up top so we are glad to only be going two stops back to Eagle Street Pier. The ferry is full and the kids voices reverberate in the small cabin. Still as it is free you cannot complain about value for money! The boat trip makes us think of London and travelling on the Thames, but on a much smaller scale. Even down to the South Bank with its museums, theatres and Ferris wheel.

Story Bridge at nightBit of a schoolboy error with the setting up of tripod this evening facing the lit up Story Bridge. We had positioned ourselves on the ferry pontoon bobbing up and down in the water. Having moved onto solid ground we had better luck, dodging the ferries passing by to get a 15 second exposure shot. Content with our pictures we just had to eat at Mr Edwards restaurant, as a reminder of our friend John although I don’t think he will be changing career to become a chef! Still we wonder why so many attractions are free, our day would have cost a lot more if we had been sightseeing in London.

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