From the Queen Street Mall we walked back via a different route to the Roma Street
Parklands again and explored some more of that. We were rather shocked by the public toilets there. It is best to describe them as having no outside wall – you know the ones that say ‘men’ ‘women’ and divide the two? Nothing of the sort, just a single wall with the basins on, open air both sides of that and then the stall doors behind you with both male and female icons on them. You’ll be grateful to know the stalls had walls on the other 3 sides, plus the door makes 4!!! I found it really
entertaining to be able to watch David wash his hands in a public bathroom and neither of us were where we shouldn’t be.
We also discovered a huge waterfall in the Parkalnds, about 10 – 12 feet high by about 30 feet wide, just straight down into a catching trough a little below pavement height. It was man-made, but even so we loved the noise and the spray that it made.
We saw what I will call a Hello Wall in the park too. It was quite long, but partly obscured by bushes which was a bit of a shame because it was brightly painted with children of varying nationalities climbing trees and other similar things. Its biggest appeal was a mass of big sunflowers which each had the word ‘hello’ painted in a different language in the middle of it. We recognised quite a few,
or wouldn’t have known the significance of course, and could only wonder what language some of the others were, never mind how to pronounce them. It was a cheery little touch.
We left the park via a different exit than usual and went exploring to look for a restaurant for tonight’s dinner. There were a few, mostly below other hotels, with similar menus to our own; yuk. But we came across one with a really nice looking menu at reasonable prices and it was very close to our hotel so decided on dinner there and went ‘home’ to waste some time until it was decent to eat.
Part of the time wasting involved going up to the roof-top to the swimming pool. David put one toe in and declared it freezing so we went in the spa instead, which was at least really warm. Just as David got out, a Japanese man came along who didn’t speak any English and we couldn’t explain that we’d had our 10 minutes that you’re supposed to stay in it, so I stayed a bit longer to be polite. David got all dry and then it began to rain quite heavily. The Japanese man bolted for the gym room which baffled me cos we were sitting up to our necks in water anyway, so what’s a little rain. I then got out but the wind was beyond freezing, and by the time I walked the very short distance to where David was standing under shelter with the towels, I was shivering furiously and my teeth were chattering. I grabbed 3 towels and huddled them around me, top, middle and legs, saying to David “Rub me, for goodness sake!” He just thought I was a big sook making a fuss. And wouldn’t you know? In the many times we’d used the lift to date we’d been alone, but this time with me dressed in wet hair and 3 towels, it was half full of businessmen in suits and one primly dressed lady. I saw the shock in one of the men’s faces as he took in what he was looking at, but that’s tuff ain’t it?
Back to the safety of our own room, and a warm shower before dressing for dinner. This restaurant was under a hotel, as in basement level, but did have windows along one wall where a narrow, long trench had been dug to give them a little area for a couple of outdoor tables. It was walled with limestone rocks and had a few plants growing in them so wasn’t unpleasant to look out on. We had a drinky poo each and the food was delicious; David had a chicken dish with a sauce and lots of vegetables as well as chips, and I had a prawn and pasta dish. I decided that I would have the chicken if we came back the next night, which was our joint plan. It was a busy little place and the staff were really friendly and nice.
And so to bed with only 1½ days left of our holiday.
Fri 5th This morning we decided to breakfast at the same restaurant that we’d had dinner at the night before. We were met by a frazzled looking lady who apologised for the delay but got to us soon enough. She seemed the same way the whole time we were there but there didn’t appear to be any reason for it – maybe something at home of course. We ordered our breakfast which included fruit juice to start, the meal, and coffee at the end, and it was very nice indeed. We could hear the chef in the kitchen singing to the radio, so he was happy enough. He came out once and did something helpful for the lady though. After that we popped back to the hotel to gather our walking things and set off to who knows where.
Firstly we walked through the Roma Street Parklands again and this time went to the far right where we took what they call the Rainforest Walk. This was lovely and involved a tree-top walkway as well as a path down into a little valley full of ferns and such things. From here we took a different exit from the park but there were apartments being built so we had to curve round again to where the café was near the railway station, still within the park. Then through the station itself to see what that was like. It was like Perth station really and a far cry from the size of Sydney’s. We watched out to see if they had any double-decker trains as Sydney had done, but again it was like Perth and they didn’t have any.
From here we just wandered toward the river because there was a building right next to the river that David could see from the hotel balcony that he wanted to get to, to see what it was. As we walked along it was getting overcast and began to rain a bit. We just carried on walking as we’d seen all the natives doing when it had shed a few spots on other occasions, but this time the one walker and one cyclist that we passed had hurried to shelter and waited for it to pass. Odd. A little later it started to rain a bit heavier so we found a bridge and sheltered somewhat under that, but it was massively high so had limited use. Then it stopped spitting, or almost, so we carried on. We walked a long way and it started to rain again and started to get heavy enough that I got the umbrellas out of the backpack and we put those up. And it just rained steadily. My feet were getting wet even through my shoes – the very same pair I’d worn in Sydney and it had rained heavily and they’d gotten wet through. We were then wet from the knees down as well as our feet and it was starting to not be so much fun, but we carried on walking anyway. There were very limited exits back up to the road slightly above us anyway, and we were still hoping it would clear up.
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Eventually we could see the building David had wanted getting closer, but when we got there it was still closed. We’d just set our hearts on a cuppa and maybe a cake, and although it was a restaurant as we’d thought, it was a lunch and dinner style one, not a café. We stood forlornly under its front porch, knowing there were staff inside setting up for lunch, but it was only about 11am so we weren’t willing to wait for an hour, huddled where we were, still getting spray from the rain. It was called Oxley’s On The River – I’ve been asked for it since we got back, and I don’t quite think we were dressed in the style they would prefer even if it had been open.
David left me where I was for a minute while he went to peek at a bridge on our right a little way up the path, and then came back and said that it appeared to lead to civilisation and we may as well give it a shot. We went under the road which had run parallel to the river the whole way and came up some stairs the other side at a tall office building with nowhere really to shelter from the rain, so we went down a ramp to the road and along just a bit when we saw a sign in a courtyard between 2 parts of a building that said ‘coffee and carvery’ or something along those lines. That’ll do, we thought, and came across a really nice café hidden at the back of these buildings. I guess it serviced the offices round about, but it was not small and had a decent variety of foods. We’d been looking for an ATM the whole time of our journey this morning but one doesn’t often find them on river banks (wrong kind of bank!) so we hadn’t used one yet.
As we finally walked through to the comforts of an inside room, dreaming of hot drinks, I suddenly had a panic that we even had enough money to buy one, but then remembered the $50 note that I keep stashed for emergencies, and this sure was an emergency. David had a coffee and I had a hot chocolate – it was that kind of weather – and we sipped and stalled, waiting for the weather to clear. We were fascinated when a girl arrived with a huge, double-decker trolley with cakes and fruit juice, chips and sandwiches on, and started to unload it. Obviously they go around the offices themselves with this trolley. How wonderful! A little later another girl arrived with another one as well. We thought this was a marvelous idea. But still it rained.
We decided that we had no option but to carry on walking, or call a taxi, and we are not pikers, but to his credit David did ask the chap behind the counter where we were on our map before we left. We had walked way further than we had realised. The restaurant we’d thought we were heading for had been up on the road so we had not even seen it. The chap told us that the ‘coffee strip’ that most tourists head for was back towards the city a bit and then turn left, so we went out and put up the umbrellas again. David laughed his head off when mine immediately fell shut again but I suppose I deserved this cos I’d been laughing at him getting wet from one part of his umbrella that didn’t stretch out to the end of its spoke.
Before too long the rain was coming down heavily again and it was even starting to get cold. We went under an office block into its parking area so I could get my jumper out of the backpack and put that on but even so my back began to ache badly as it does when I’m cold. Not very far further was the coffee strip in the suburb of Milton. We’d seen a Milton Shopping Centre on our map but not realised it would be a street rather than a building.
On a better day it would have been lovely, but we, and the other few people walking around, pretty much trudged by without taking as much of the view in as we could. There were heaps and heaps of cafes and restaurants all down one side of the road with large outdoor areas just covered with a canvas roof or similar. Had we been on the other side of the road instead we’d have seen a replica Eiffel Tower sticking out through one of them which was about 3 floors high. I’ve since been asked for a Blue Grotto Café in that strip. If I’d have known about that one I’d have had a look because I’ve been to the real Blue Grotto in Italy and it was a memory I will treasure for ever.
But, the weather was obviously set now to rain until forever and with how wet our feet and lower legs were it was not a pleasant thought to go back the way we’d come, or to explore a different way home. And I was starting to get a bit grumpy with my back because I could barely move to walk and it was interfering with my breathing. According to the little map there was a train station a little further ahead so I was happy to throw in the bravery towel and find out how to catch a QR. (Queensland Rail.) There were 4 platforms – 1 this side, 2 in the middle under an underpass, and 1 through the underpass and out the other side – but did any of them say which one you needed to head in which direction? You bet your last sock they didn’t. I just could not walk any further and started to get cross with David because he wanted to bounce around to all 4 platforms and expected me to want to bounce with him. We settled on going to the middle 2 in the hope that that was the right one, and I sat on a bench while David went to find out. I am very grateful to say that it was the correct platform and we only had a few minutes to wait for the train. Once it arrived I took it back that they were like Perth ones – you had to open the door manually. I was stunned. How archaic! We giggled and carried on like school kids on the train and the locals looked down their noses at us a bit hehehe. But it was only 2 stops before we left them in peace.
Here’s a picture of another waterfall at Roma Street from a day with nicer weather.
As I’ve said before, the café in the Parklands was right near the station and as the rain was still going we decided to lunch in there. Well, at one of the few spots in there that wasn’t getting wet anyway. In all honesty neither of us was hungry and nothing on the menu appealed, but once the staff have seen you looking, and chatted to you, you’re rather committed, so we both chose something we didn’t want. It was better than walking in the rain anyhow. Between us we’d chosen bread/toast with pate and dips of all kinds plus some little crisp things, so we ate the dips with the crisps and one slice of bread each and packed up the rest of the bread – about four, thick, homemade slices it was – in a napkin and put it in my handbag. It had a caraway seed flavour and was kind of nutty and very filling.
It was still raining so we decided we had no choice but to man the umbrellas once more and get back to the hotel. We went via the steep staircase up the side of the hill because it got us to the road faster than taking the steady slope through the park, and soon made it back to the hotel for a warm shower. It was only about 2pm but we put the telly on and chatted while idly watching whatever it was that was on. Part of what was on were weather warnings, saying that a cyclone was hitting north and south of Brisbane and worse was to come. We were on the leeward side of the hotel so felt as safe as we could be, but I made David sit on the little verandah when he went out for his naughty habits cos I didn’t want a wind gust to carry him away if he was standing up. We were on the 4th floor, but I only went out there once; there was something unsafe feeling about it and its little metal railing. There were apparently homes everywhere without power and I wondered if we would get evacuated if the power went out, because we used to when I worked at Murdoch University – they said it wasn’t safe if there was no power to operate the fire alarms as you can’t trust the battery backup.
Time ticked on, the TV programs passed, the weather warnings continued, complete with pictures of huge surf on the Gold Coast. A message from the hotel reception popped up at one stage saying that the restaurant was particularly booked for tonight and bookings were recommended if you wanted to eat there. We decided that we were not going out to dinner, but didn’t want their food either so we got out the 4 slices of bread that we’d bought back from the café at lunch time. We still had some margarine in the fridge, so just applied that and had the thick bread slices. Funny meal to have on a holiday, but walking in the rain under overcast skies and expecting the cyclone before we got back did not make an enticing thought. Strangely enough we got hooked on a film and stayed up later than we had for any other night of our holidays. I sent Nathan an SMS at one point and he rang me back because all his calls are free on his mobile after 9pm Perth time. It was 11pm for us, but we chatted for a while and he made a conference call so I got to chat to him and Dan at the same time. I enjoyed that and we discussed our arrival time back in Perth for the next evening.
Sat 6th We awoke to bright blue skies and the sun shining beautifully. It was all over and we hadn’t heard a sound. We packed our cases, got ready to go out, checked out and put our baggage in storage at the hotel, and then set off to enjoy our last morning. We ended up deciding to catch a bus up to the Mt Coot-tha lookout, which we would have done the day before if not for the weather. We went to the phone box across the road and David rang the public transport number and got details of which bus and where from and we set off to the street she’d told him in the city. As we walked along I said “I forgive you, Brisbane” as it was a beautiful day. We got to the road that the lady had said but she hadn’t said which bus stop to go to, and we weren’t to know there would be a choice so he hadn’t asked. David found one bus and hopped on to ask the driver’s advice, who sent us to the next street back with directions to go to the 2nd bus stop on our right. We did that, but there was very little information as to which run stopped where and no mention of the number we wanted. My back was aching again so I sat at one of the stops while David walked up the street to see if any of the others had any numbers on them. We’d walked up and down 3 times already with no joy. He came back with no news so we decided to go to the main bus station under the Queen Street Mall and see the information kiosk there.
That done, the driver had given us a bum steer and we had been on the right road when we asked him, we just hadn’t been far enough up the street. We found the stop but had about 40 minutes before the bus came so decided to go for a coffee. The bus trip was very
pleasant and we drove down the coffee strip road in Milton, which is when we did see the Eiffel Tower – hadn’t noticed it the day before in the rain, as I said. The journey was very steep and winding from here and I was amused by the way a cemetery was set up on the sides of two very steep hills at right angles to one another – the graves were at ground level at one end and raised by about 2 feet the other. Who ever heard of retaining walls on graves?
Soon enough we reached the Mt Coot-tha Lookout and hopped off the bus. It was indeed a wonderful view from up there. We were quite close to the city but could see the whole city block plus all the surrounding suburbs spread out before us. There was a map which showed where the important features were and apparently you can see the ocean from up there, although we didn’t. One place worthy of note was Griffith University campus in the suburb of Nathan so I took a photo of the sign
with the view in the background to give to my Nathan. I’d known about the suburb of course but it was nice to have something concrete to share with Nathan. Poor Daniel was the only one that I couldn’t find a souvenir for with his name on.
One couple asked me to take a photo of them and they had English accents so I asked them where they were from. Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. I was so shocked as that’s where David’s Dad was born. How amazing! They did not have Gloucestershire accents though, that’s for sure.
We decided to have lunch at the kiosk which was rather busy, so looked at the restaurant menu but it was hoity toity fare so we went back to the queue at the kiosk and got talking to a man who was waiting for his food. He invited us to join him and his wife which was lovely and we sat and talked nineteen to the dozen for about an hour and a half. Strange isn’t it? They were a Brisbane couple and had just gone up there for a day trip – don’t know if they’d planned on spending it talking with strangers, but we got on so well. We then went for one last look at the view (I would love to have seen it at night) and went to wait for the bus.
There’s very little left worthy of report. We went back to the hotel to get our bags and sat waiting for the airport transfer bus, got to the airport and had a drink and then onto the flight home. Back home to our loved ones. And it was so good to see them all waiting for us as we came off the plane.
Both of us prefer to always explore new territory rather than take the same route back that we took out. I guess we achieved that during this holiday in a major way, starting at Sydney and finishing in Brisbane 1,000 kms north. With the inland tour to Bathurst as well, plus other explorations along the way (some deliberate and some not) we did over 1,500 kms in the week with the campervan.
The End of our Sydney to Brisbane Drive
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