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Brisbane

Brisbane Central Business District
Brisbane Central Business District
Map by Amanda Hacking

(Sue)  What a GREAT place to be "stuck" in for 5 months!  When we cleared into Brisbane (actually Manly Harbor) in November 2005 we were sure we'd only spend a week or so in the city and then head for the small towns and anchorages on the east coast of New South Wales (south of Brisbane).  But the lure of other teenage friends for Amanda kept us in the city through the whole of the November-April cyclone season.  The Canadian cruising boat Peregrinata, with teens Alexandria and Katrina, was tied to the pilings just next to us and the three girls became inseparable buddies -- and us parents became great friends as well.  Morning comes early in Brisbane in summer, with the 5am call of the magpies and their fluting song.  Then the magpie larks and kookaburras join in and the hot sun lights the trees of the Botanic Garden right by the moorings.  Jon and I, together with Sonia and Scott from Peregrinata, took 1-2 hour walks most mornings along the riverfront and through the many parks, returning to the boats by 8:30, showered and ready for the day.  Jon and I did boat chores during the day, trying to find ways to stay cool in the tropical heat.  We indulged in window shopping in the air conditioned malls, swimming at the outdoor pool, motoring up river to the Saturday market, and enjoying the air conditioned movie theater on cheap Tuesdays.  The big job was shopping for a car and all the camping gear we needed for our upcoming road trip.  By evening when the air was cooler, we'd motor ashore for showers (provided by the city), have sundowners with cruising friends on their boat or ours, and watch the thousands of fruit bats stream into the trees of the Botanic Garden at dusk.  December and January are the months of thunderstorms, of which we had several -- wild, beautiful, and a bit worrisome with our tall masts.

The yachts, Botanic Gardens, & downtown Brisbane
The yachts, Botanic Gardens, & downtown Brisbane
Ocelot is easily visible, a bit left of center

(Amanda)  Ah, Brisbane!  City life once more, but experienced from the safety and comfort of our own snug little boat - moored downtown, right next to the lovely botanic gardens and across the river from the climbing cliffs.  We'd 'planned' on only spending a couple weeks there before moving on to do some 'real cruising' but that plan got axed like so many others - the time just wore away until we realized we had to skedaddle to get to Darwin in time!  But in my opinion it was time well spent.

Brisbane teens - Warren, Amanda, Morgan, Alex, Katrina, & Adam
Brisbane had lots of teens for a while
Warren, Amanda, Morgan, Alex, Katrina, & Adam

As mom said, Peregrinata was there the whole time we were, and a couple other teen-boats came in for about a week at a time.  It was wonderful!  Mornings were, of course, for school work, though sometimes started off with a jog or walk along the river with Alexandria.  In the afternoons we never lacked for things to do.  The pool ("beach") at South Bank was fun and cool in hot December and January, if also rather crowded.  The cinema, also across the river at South Bank, was considerably cheaper than any other in town ($5.50 for students) and showed lots of movies and was air conditioned to perfection!  Our location at The Gardens got us Brisbane 'residency,' allowing us to get library cards.  I spent many hours there in the cool and quiet, reading or using the internet.

We loved the beautiful Brisbane Parks system
We loved the beautiful Brisbane Parks system

There was also shopping to be done (of course) for Christmas and just for fun, and while the walking mall and Myer Centre were close, we found most things were rather more expensive than we expected.  So some days Alex, Katrina and I would go out busking - singing and playing guitar on the street, usually each making about $10/hour.

Just 120 km west of Brisbane and up in the hills, is the city of Toowoomba.  We've got friends who live there, the family from s/v Vamp that we met in St. Martin in 2002 and later in Panama and Ecuador.  We hadn't seen them in ages, and at first opportunity we had them come to the boat for a visit.  We also took the train up to see them, or drove up when we got the car.  The few weekends we spent with them were absolutely wonderful - and not only because the climate is less severe up in the hills!

Cute folk "junk-art" of 2 pelicans in Brisbane
Cute folk "junk-art" of 2 pelicans in Brisbane

(Jon)  Brisbane was wonderful - we haven't hung in such cosmopolitan places very often.  Long early morning walks with good friends through the Botanic Gardens and along the river, followed by real showers on shore (love that unlimited fresh water) and breakfast on board.  Then work on school and boat projects for the morning, lunch, and a siesta in the heat of the day.  In the afternoon ("arvo") we'd usually find something fun to do in the city - shopping, going to a movie or a museum or the huge, sandy swimming pool, watching a parade, etc. - then often have dinner or drinks with friends in the evening as all the Brisbane lights come on.  Brisbane does great lights: The office high-rises above us, the Storey Bridge behind us, even the climbing wall in front of us is lit all night.

Our magnificent view of Brisbane at night
Our magnificent view of Brisbane at night

Brisbane is where I also started experimenting with brewing my own beer.  A friend in Fiji gave me all the necessary equipment because he couldn't get the correct supplies in Fiji and needed the space on his trimaran.  But the supplies were cheap and readily available in Australia so I thought I'd give it a try.  Although I'm not much of a beer drinker, I found brewing to be fun, and the beer was better tasting and much cheaper than the local brews.  Now that I've made several batches, I much prefer my hand-crafted home-brew to the bland commercial products.

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