Just when we thought we had seen it all, we began another exciting adventure. While Melbourne reminded us of a European city, Brisbane took on more of a cosmopolitan feel similar to that of New York or Chicago. We picked the perfect time to walk down to the river. There were joggers, bicyclists, walkers, skateboarders, and many more active people. There was a beautiful bridge with purple lights. This was the perfect photo opportunity that we knew the girls would just love. The key was trying to take pictures without crashing into someone, especially since the other side of the sidewalk is the favored one. We had to hurry since the sunset comes much faster in the winter. We left there while it was dark and walked to find a Thai restaurant that was recommended by our new friends from St. Ursula’s. We walked into what we found out was the wrong restaurant so Mr. Smith was “thrilled” when we got up and left. The correct restaurant was just on the next block. The food turned out to be much spicier than we thought, but it didn’t matter because we were surrounded by these wonderful, friendly people once again along with plenty of water.
The next day started with a walk down by the river to catch a ferry that was headed to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. Little did we know that we were about to see over a hundred koalas and kangaroos throughout the park. The highlights included holding the koalas and feeding the kangaroos. Thankfully the koala cooperated because the guide told us that she was a cranky old lady and it was getting towards the end of her shift. The kangaroos were all resting but we decided to go over towards them anyway. We shook the bags of food and one of them walked our way and she was hungry! Everything was fine and dandy until a jeep drove by and all the kangaroos jumped up at once. We froze for a moment and wondered if we were going to be part of the stampede. It was so spectacular and scary at the same time. That could only happen in Australia! We had a great day and our fun concluded with a ride on the South Bank ferris wheel giving us beautiful views of Brisbane at night.
No trip to Brisbane is complete without an expedition to the Gold Coast. An hour-long train ride followed by a bus transfer that took us to one of the most beautiful beaches that we had ever seen. There were plenty of great restaurants and stores for shopping. We saw surfers and tourists getting surfing lessons and there was a class of high school-age girls learning to surf. Not one of them actually got up on the board, but they were having a great time. No wonder it was called Surfers’ Paradise. We still can’t get over how friendly everyone is here. We got on the bus to head back to the train station and the bus driver just let us get on for free. It must have been our accent.
-Mike Smith and Joni Mullen