Thursday, April 5, 2018

4 April 2018 - Day 32 - In Brisbane

The full day was set apart for sightseeing. The apartment by itself is comfortable; other rooms are being done up and hence, a lot of dust falls through the cracks of the floor above. I had done the laundry in the cellar of the building last evening. The place was dirty and wet. The dryer was totally unusable. The apartment complex facilities need to be spruced up if it has to be recommended to friends and others. The apartment is well stocked with utensils and other cooking requirements. I had breakfast of muesli and milk after a couple of strong cups of coffee.

The Woolloongabba is the location of the Brisbane Cricket Ground. The stadium plays host to a wide variety of sports and even greyhound racing and concerts and is popularly referred to as The Gabba. In a light drizzle I walked the entire round of the stadium from the outside and came to the entrance of the Queensland Cricketers' Club, which was open. I walked up to what looked like a restaurant and asked the ladies there if I could take a few pictures of the ground, which looked glorious from that elevation. They told me that I could take pictures from within the restaurant, but should not step out to the balcony for it, for that would be a violation of their policy. I was in complete agreement with that and also looked around the restaurant that had many memorabilia of the teams that had played there and also the greats of the game such as Sir Donald Bradman. Outside, near one of the gates is a sculpture dedicated to Eddie Gilbert, who bowled out the great Don for a duck in a Sheffield Shield match. The abstract sculpture combines elements of the speed of Gilbert’s deliveries and the number of wickets he took in his first class career.

The Brisbane River travels a distance of nearly 350 km before emptying out into the Moreton Bay. It provides the city of Brisbane with its water supply and envelops, within its snaking banks, the developments of the CBD and other important suburbs of the city. I had heard that a walk on the South Bank of the Brisbane River is an experience not to be forgone. I parked near the Maritime Museum and decided on a long walk when I saw a boat about to berth in a jetty close by. I hastily moved there and enquired how I could get a ticket for the ferry. When I heard that it is a free city service I decided to take a proper river cruise using the facility. And what an experience it turned out to be! I sat in one of the seats on the open deck of the City Hopper ferry that was introduced in 2012 and enjoyed the skyline and landmarks along the way. There are eight terminals on the Brisbane River between North Quay and Sydney Street. The driver of the boat operates the terminals where the landing bridge has to be docked and passengers ensured safe passage. The ferry service was docked at the Maritime Museum terminal for nearly 20 minutes for a 21 gun salute from the Kangaroo Point to the Royal Couple who were in the city for the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games. Passing under the Story Bridge and magnificent views of it from both sides were truly memorable. The Story Bridge, built in 1940, is an imposing sight and is named after the person who most influenced the construction of the bridge.

After a quick lunch in a Subway restaurant I shifted the car from the original parking lot to another close to the promenade park. From there the South Bank Piazza, a multi-purpose entertainment venue with a capacity of more than 2000, was nearby. I watched an entertainer prepping the crowd for some time and then moved to what I wanted to do next - a ride on the Brisbane Wheel. Still a month and half shy of the 60 years that could have covered me under the senior citizen concession I had to take a ‘full ticket’ of AUD 20. The views of the city were amazing from that height and I felt that the 10 minute ride was too short to truly appreciate the landmarks.

The Cathedral of St Stephen is a catholic church and is the seat of the archbishop of Brisbane. The impressive cathedral is not ornate and has a chapel in the recess for prayer. The beautiful statue of Our Lady of Judah, the marble baptismal font and another with Holy Water at the entrance to the church are noteworthy besides the numerous stained glass reliefs. A short walk away from the cathedral is the Anzac Square, which is a war memorial and a town square. I could not walk about to enjoy the many monuments within the square as I had a deadline to meet with the parking meter. The evening drew to a close with a view of the city lights from atop the Mount Coot-tha viewing point. It had become a bit nippy at that elevation.

Once I got back to the apartment Jalgin Chacko, a Facebook friend of many years, visited me with an excellent bottle of white wine. As he had to drive back home we could not share the content of the bottle.  He works in a company that deals in used cars and has been in Australia for the past 10 years. He and his wife, who works too, were blessed with their second child less than a month ago. He was gracious enough to compete the log sheet attestation for Brisbane. It was time to move on from Brisbane and take on the last segment of The Great Australian Expedition. The expedition would, hopefully, end in Sydney tomorrow.

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