Queensland: State Animal: Bogan
This next set of posts follows me as I have crossed state lines from New South Whales (“the premier state”) to Queensland (“the sunshine state”). Despite its name, there is a total lack of queens here as far as I can tell, unless we’re talking about THE Queen, and she’s not likely to visit again either. Queensland is known for the Great Barrier Reef and other touristy locales due to its constantly gorgeous weather. At this closeness to the equator, it only has two seasons: WET and DRY. Winter down south is dry season here, and it’s beautiful. Queensland seems to get razzied a lot by its neighboring states as the home of the bogans = hicks. Maybe this has something to do with the worst criminals in NSW being sent to the tropical paradise up north for their bad behavior about 150 years ago. Hmmmm…..I’ll keep you posted.
Bris Vegas, Brissy, and the Bane
In case you are curious about my title, Brisbane, the third largest city in the country and largest in Queensland, has nothing at all in common with Las Vegas except perhaps its ONE solitary casino, and supposedly a higher number of adult shops. It’s a quaint oddity I think, to give non-American cities nicknames after American ones. We certainly don’t do that for them. Therein lies some of the point of this blog. Australian places (apart from the Sydney Opera House, Reef, and general Outback) have almost no reputation in the states. Las Vegas is thought of by most people in the western world as the center of a certain kind of American debauchery. My Las Vegas native “Battle Born” friends can attest to a certain kind of crazy that exists in Las Vegas. But I didn’t see anything to raise an eyebrow at beyond a thrown beer bottle. Kinda tame, but maybe not by Australian standards. (Or maybe I was lucky?)
I did get to see a little bit of that drinking culture I’ve heard so much about. But North Americans beware, there is no such thing as a tab here. You pay as you drink, so when they decide you’ve had enough, out you go. They do not serve pre-inebriated patrons.
A Modern City
Brisbane is very modern and fast-growing. It’s a river city like many of the great European cities, but even with 2.2 million inhabitants, it’s much smaller than a London, Paris, or Berlin. There are a number of gorgeous river-side walks and a free river–taxi, mixed in with all the paid ones. (Look for city-hopper boats.) I really enjoyed walking along many of the pedestrian bridges, through the gardens, and along the Story Bridge at night when it’s all lit up. Every night it changes color. Also don’t pass up the mall. Malls in Australia are often outdoor affairs, and they are awesome gathering points to take in some buskers and have a cold drink.
As for clothes here, I notice the style seems to be intentionally uncoordinated or mismatched (think sequined tiger stripes and floral lace and bits of leather all in the same outfit). Maybe I’m missing something. Boutiques seem to specialize in the thrift store look. It’s kind of a cross between hipster and boho. Either way, I enjoy the idea of looking fashionable without spending a lot of money, even if the fashion confuses me.
A great view of the whole city can be had from Mount Coot’tha, about 15-20 minutes outside of the CBD (Central Business District). Watch out for toll bridges though. They are nearly unavoidable, and they expect you to have a pre-paid pass, or pay online within three days. If you wait until you get it in the mail, the price has already doubled or more.
To Market! To Market!
Probably my favorite daytime activity in Brisbane, was attending the West End farmer’s market on a Friday morning. I did nearly all my shopping there for at least a week at very affordable prices. The market has just about everything in the way of fresh groceries as well as at least 20 take-away (take-out) stands and two different sets of performers on opposite sides of the market. It’s absolutely astounding that this is a weekly event. If you’re a foodie like me, it can’t be missed.
More on Brisbane…
I have a few more things to say about Brisbane, including my visit to Lone Pine Sanctuary, Queensland Art Galleries, turning 30, and catching my first bit of Australian theatre…coming up.