Sailing the boat down the Brisbane River I thought, “Yeah this is the life”. With my captain’s hat (and bikini) on, and with a group of excited passengers on board I was literally sailing our crew towards Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. Well for a few minutes I was anyway.

However, I did notice the captain was keeping a watchful eye on me, especially as I narrowly glided past a jetty, which was attached to the property of a multi-million dollar home. Who put that in such a stupid place?

I couldn’t wait to get out there and hug a koala. I needed a hug after the terrible hangover I was nursing.

As I stepped on to the boat I knew it could go either way: the motion of the water would either cure or kill me. Thankfully it was the former.

I had spent the previous night drinking copious shots with a group of lads from my home county of Armagh (you can take the girl out of Ireland…) I had randomly met the fellas in the Brisbane Backpackers Hostel. With my mum in tow, we all took full advantage of happy hour.

Lone Pine is located at Fig Tree pocket, roughly one hour from South Bank, along the Brisbane River.

The boat ride has interesting commentary and it is a good chance to see some of Brisbane’s most important landmarks from the comfort of your seat.

Alternatively slop on the suncream and lie back as the cruise is a real sun trap. In the space of an hour, I had become a bronzed goddess… with a very
burnt nose.

There is more than just koalas to see out at Lone Pine. You can get up close with the cutest baby kangaroos and see other Australian wildlife such as wombats, crocs and beautifully-coloured birds. I’m not talking about tanned ladies here, by the way.

The highlight of the experience is getting a picture taken hugging a koala – a must for every backpacker’s Facebook page. However, no one told me that they poo 300 times
per day.

In my picture I am attempting to hold a smile for as long as it takes for the bulb to flash. But I am desperately hoping that I am not being shat on at the same time. That would not be good for the hangover at all.

When visiting Brisbane you cannot fail to notice the spectacular Story Bridge. My mum wondered what the view would be like from the top of it, so we pencilled it in into our to-do list.

I found the idea of going to the top of the bridge quite daunting. My mum, on the other hand, could not wait to get up there.

The whole experience of the climbing the bridge at twilight is utterly fantastic, from the hilarious wit of our climb leader Pete, to the excitement of getting dressed up in all the gear, it is easy to feel relaxed.

Just don’t be tempted to use alcohol to calm your nerves as you do have to pass a breath test.

As I blew into the contraption, I could see my mum nervously glancing sideways at me, afraid that the activities of the previous night would show up.

The alcohol had evaporated, so there was no turning back now. Sexy boiler suits? Check. Radio system? Check. A miner’s light attached to our heads? Er, check. We were good to go.

Booty Shaking

I get quite nervous encountering a staircase that has gaps in it, so I wasn’t sure how I would handle climbing a 74 metre high bridge when you can see the traffic racing by underneath.

But I found with every step we took my initial fear was overshadowed by the stunning views as we climbed higher.

During the two-and-a-half-hour climb, the guide explains Brisbane’s history and points out sights worth noting.

But to be honest, as the sky turned pink and the city lights started to twinkle, my mind was taken over by the beautiful sight that stretched out before us.

Having been quite apprehensive to begin with I can truly say that doing the Bridge Climb is one of the most worthwhile things I have done since coming to Australia.

It’s not too often that you can experience the feeling of walking directly across a six-lane highway without looking left or right.

The fact that there are only three bridge climbs in the world (the others being in Sydney and Auckland), means it would be just wrong not to experience it, while you are travelling in this part of the world.

High from the feeling of achievement, we set of to a place they call “The Valley” for some night time entertainment.

Backpackers seem magnetically drawn to Fortitude Valley after dark and people from every corner of the world can be found keenly swigging beer and dancing on tables.

As I engaged in some booty shaking of my own, I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned around expecting to see some hot Aussie about to chat me up.

Instead, I saw the Armagh boys from the previous night standing with my mum, proudly holding a tray of shots. I got the feeling there would be a few sore heads in the Brisbane Backpackers the next day.

The details: info an Brisbane Backpackers Resort,; info on climbing the Story Bridge,[]; info on Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary,