Sunday, January 27, 2013

Brisbane 1/26/2013

The seas were indeed rough last night, but the worst was after we had gone to bed. The pilot boat had a difficult time getting to us, but we were able to enter the Port of Brisbane. As we entered, we could see the spot between two ships where the captain would have to “parallel park”.  We stood on our balcony and watched as our ship was lined up alongside the empty space and was pushed in by the pilot boat. We also saw thousands of small green circles on the water and learned that they were jellyfish. When we saw one of the ship’s officers taking pictures we knew that this was something unusual.

Happy Australia Day! 
This national holiday commemorates the founding of Australia and occurs annually on the 26th of January.  It is a day of celebrations, concerts and fireworks. Unfortunately when we arrived in Brisbane it was raining and all outdoor activities had been canceled. The rain did not dampen our spirits as we grabbed our ponchos and headed out for a tour of the city and a visit to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary.

Brisbane is the capital city of the Australian state of Queensland and is the country’s third largest city. The original settlement began as a penal colony and during World War II served as the South West Pacific Headquarters for General Douglas MacArthur. It was only after the war that the city gained its prominence as an important urban center. The city was the site of the 1988 World Expo, 2001 Goodwill Games and unfortunately, the site of devastating floods, as the city sits on a flood plain.

Known as the “River City”, it is situated alongside the banks of the Brisbane River. The central streets are named after members of the royal family. Streets named after female members run parallel to the river and perpendicular to streets named after male members. Throughout the city there remain distinctive homes referred to as “Brisbaners” along with other protected architecture from the 1880’s. The city’s glass and concrete towers, hotels and paved shopping malls stand on the location of a bulldozed area. Brisbane is a growing city that retains its connection to the past but has its sites on the future. Our guide pointed out many of the city’s highlights as we made our way to our destination.

Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary is home to over 130 free roaming koalas, as well as kangaroos, Australian birds, Tasmanian devils, wombats, dingoes and lizards that walk freely on the Sanctuary’s paths. The rain had kept the crowds away on a day that would have otherwise been quite busy. This was to our advantage as we watched the koalas (which are not bears, but marsupials) of all sizes and ages sleeping, jumping from one tree branch to another, chewing on leaves and playing. The highlight of the day was watching the interaction between the mother koalas and their babies. We had our picture taken holding a koala and fed the kangaroos and wallabies (looks like a kangaroo, but smaller) and observed many of the other animals and yes, we had to be careful not to step on the large lizards.

As we made our way back to the ship, our guide explained that when people speak of Queensland, they often refer to it as Australia’s Sunshine State for it is renowned for its dazzling white sand beaches and surfing. The most famous stretch of beaches is known as the Gold Coast and is not far from Brisbane.  The lushness of the area’s semi-tropical climate can also be found not far from the city in the mountain forests and many National parks. It became clear that much variety could be found within and around the city of Brisbane.

Back onboard, we learned that our departure from Brisbane had been postponed until 6am tomorrow morning.

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