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Brisbane (Oops, I Mean Briz-bun)

(Reprint from News: April 4, 2002)

April 2, 2002


Before I left Hervey Bay, I spent a few hours in my motel room boxing up the souvenirs and assorted junk that I'd accumulated during my two months in Australia, then trotted down to the Post Office and mailed them to myself back in the U.S.  Each box cost about US$40 to mail, but it was worth it because, frankly, it's pretty hard to find boomerangs, Lazy Harry CD's, and souvenir cans of kangaroo dung back in the States.


After leaving Hervey Bay, I continued south along the Sunshine Coast.  So far, I'd been disappointed with the scenery during my drive down the east coast of Australia, and the Sunshine Coast proved to be no exception.  Part of the problem, I guess, are the endless miles of eucalyptus trees and unvarying topography that you drive through here and elsewhere on the east coast.  It's really no surprise, then, that falling asleep while driving is a big problem in Australia, a fact punctuated by the dozens of billboards dotting the highways throughout Australia that warn drivers not to doze off.   Like everywhere else in Australia, though, the friendliness of the people more than made up for the drab scenery, and I had a pleasant drive to Brisbane.


There are three things to know about Brisbane.  First, it's pronounced "Briz-bun," not "Briz-bane," as most Americans pronounce it.  Second, it's Australia's largest city behind Sydney and Melbourne.  Third, it's a really great city.  Up to this point, I thought Adelaide was the nicest city in Australia, but I changed my mind after spending an afternoon walking around Brisbane.  


With a population of about a million people and located on a large river that's called, not surprisingly, the Brisbane River, Brisbane reminded me a lot of my hometown, Portland, Oregon, although it's much more tropical.  In fact, it was downright steamy when I was there.  It's also, dare I say it, a lot more interesting than Portland.  The downtown area is lively and wonderful, the bridges that cross the river are beautiful, they have a great ferry system that shuttles people up and down the river, and there's a large and fascinating botanical park in Brisbane, just a few blocks from downtown. 


After walking through the garden-jungle in the botanical park for a half-hour, I felt like I was up in the Daintree Rainforest again -- it's very cool.  Well, actually it was hot and steamy, but it was also cool.  Yep, if I were ever to move to Australia, I think Brisbane would be the place.  I know, I know... I've already said that about Wagga Wagga, Adelaide, and Port Douglas, but this time I really mean it!


2-3264_Noosa_Harbor.jpg (38799 bytes)    2-3266_Sunshine_Coast.jpg (46165 bytes)

Above left:  Continuing down the coast, this is the marina at Noosa, a pleasant coastal resort town north of Brisbane.

Above right:  Viewpoint along the Sunshine Coast.  That's one of the Automobile Club trucks that patrol the highways of Australia looking for stranded motorists.


2-3302_Mall_in_Brisbane.jpg (81269 bytes)    2-3305_Brisbane_at_Night.jpg (39982 bytes)   

Above left:  Brisbane's lively Queen Street Mall.  Brisbane is something like Portland, Oregon, but it's a lot more interesting, vibrant, and tropical.  Too bad there aren't any cities like this in the U.S.

Above center:  The Brisbane River at night.  

Above right:  Catching up on some e-mail that evening, sitting by my Lonely Planet "bible." 


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