I’d been walking around Brisbane for 20 minutes and something had started to bug me. I needed to unburden. Where’s mum when you need her?
Oh look, right beside me, how forgetful. Sheepishly I turn and whisper. “You know what, I rather like Brisbane.”
Embarrassed, I busy myself with walking over the cracks in the pavement. “I like Brisbane too,” she said. Not only was this unusual because mum and I liked to disagree on most things, but strange because I hadn’t heard many people bigging the city up. Apparently it wasn’t cool to like Brisbane. Oh well, too late, I already liked it. And so did my mum, so there!
Australia’s third largest city has a beautiful river running through it, stylish skyscrapers, clean streets and a fun, friendly atmosphere. We could have spent hours pottering around the shops, but there were much more exciting things to be getting on with.
Shit I thought. How could it be that after calmly completing a skydive in New Zealand, I now found myself freaking out on the lowest rung of our climb across the Story Bridge.
Even a half-hour safety lesson that included taking a breathalyser test, attaching ourselves to a harness and donning a sexy jump-suit had done nothing to soothe my nerves.
Every step I took induced fresh beads of panic that slowly dripped down my face and through the grate that rattled beneath me.
After priding myself on being fearless, brave and all that bollocks, how could I turn around to our instructor Alice and tell her I wanted to go back. I had to get a grip. A tight one.
It’s a beautiful day, the views are outstanding and most importantly, “you need the exercise”, I told myself. Suddenly the fear subsided and as quickly as I had fallen into my vertigo, I had escaped it. Phew.
Hand on harness, I looked up into the tunnel that led to the top of the bridge, and started to climb. At the top I had a good look around. It couldn’t have been a better day to be standing on a bridge overlooking this new, gorgeous city.
The sun shone off the skyscrapers (making one look like the silver wrapper inside a chocolate bar), the river glistened below and the mountains poked through a layer of mist on the horizon.
During our climb Alice told us some local history; how a road had been moved to keep a pub in the sun. The Story Bridge was designed by John Bradfield (the same dude who did the Sydney one) and cost $3,227,416, as well as four people’s lives. It may be smaller than Sydney’s but the bridge is special because 89 per cent of the resources were “Queensland-made”. True story.
After Alice had taken our photos and we finished soaking up the sights it was time to climb back down the tunnel to safety. Passing the lowest rung we crossed another group on their way to the top. I glanced into the eyes of a passing climber and was delighted to see the same panic that had enveloped me. Don’t worry I thought, you’ll get over it.
When in Oz, it’s important to know your wombat from your possum. It’s entertaining stuff, as Australian animals have such funny names. Kangaroos, dingoes, koalas, wallabies, cassowaries just to mention a few. So when I found out there was an opportunity to see these strange creatures,
I grabbed it with both hands. Off we bounced to the world’s largest koala sanctuary, The Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, to hang out with the natives.
There we saw many a wild thing: kangaroos relieving themselves, children digging their claws into unsuspecting koalas and dogs barking sheep into submission.
Although the place reminded me of England’s Thorpe Park, when I was a wee child, it was a comforting feeling. For shizzle, getting up close to a kangaroo in all it’s sleepy glory is a must for any Australian adventurer.
Animals investigated it was time to find Brisbane’s culture (hmm, I wonder whose choice that was?). We hit the Gallery of Modern Art and watched a video of surfers taking off their wetsuits whilst trying to hide their bits (god bless modern art!) and got to tap on a big metallic cow made out of corned beef tins. Marvellous.
Craving yet more intellectual stimulation we popped next door to the State Library and their Travelling for Love exhibition. There was a section where you could write down your own experiences (luckily mum refrained from writing about travelling to get away from my dad).
From river to skyscraper, bridge to koala, kangaroo to corned beef, Brisbane had surprised me. The city was nothing like I’d expected and thank goodness for that.