12 December 2009

Koalas and Kangas and Cassowarys, Oh My!

Thursday, 27 August 2009

We awoke to another amazingly beautiful day, and it was great to see the Drysdale's lovely home in the light of day.  We are so grateful to have had such a warm and welcoming place to stay - Elinor and Chris had done their homework and knew all about Durham, and Chris had plenty of beer in the firg and made me iced tea every day!  Thanks, y'all!  Chris had gallantly taken off work for the day so that he could drive us around on our adventures, and soon we were off to meet Brissie Jan at College's Crossing for breakfast.  There was just a bit of chill in the air, but as long as we were in the sunshine, it was very pleasant.  The little restaurant, Colleges by the River, had only outdoor seating, complete with plenty of big sun umbrellas, but we managed to find a nice unshaded table and sat down to wait for Jan.  Chris and Elinor told us a bit about the restaurant (great reviews and magazine articles!) and we ordered some warm beverages.  Rex got "Taboo Hot Chocolate", Chris got coffee, and Elinor and I had some beautiful and delicous Chai Lattes.

Jan arrived shortly, and we all ordered the breakfast special of Canadian French Toast, which was egg in toast, bacon, and REAL maple syrup.  Don't you love the cute little heart cutout?  It was yummy - and I may not be able to eat (well, I'll eat it, but I won't appreciate it the same way!) American bacon again.  As we savored our meals, we were joined by this pretty kookaburra - isn't he cute?

On the agenda today - wandering around downtown Brisbane, checking out the Maritime Museum, going to the old Government House, seeing the Parliament building, and then petting the animals at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary!  We had a lot of ground to cover, so we didn't linger.  We parked downtown and walked through the wonderful pedestrian water park at South Bank.  The main feature of downtown Brisbane is the river that meanders through it, and this waterpark is right along the river in the heart of the Central Business District.  Built for the 1987 Expo, the predominant feature of the park is the Arbour.  Here's what I learned from the website www.visitsouthbank.com.au: "The award-winning Arbour was conceived as a horticultural wonder and has become a defining symbol of South Bank.  It is made up of 443 curling, tendril-like columns of steel, each covered with a train of vibrant magenta bougainvillea plants.  The stunning architectural masterpiece weaves through the centre of the parklands for one kilometre, leading the way to the parklands’ many attractions."  See for yourself - it was really gorgeous!

I loved the fact that people were actually swimming in the water features (mind you, it’s mid-morning, mid-week, mid-WINTER), but my favorite was the “beach” area, complete with surf rescue equipment!  As we passed the swimming areas, we wandered through the Aquativity section, which was full of cool fountains and play/educational areas for children.

Feeling the need for a little education ourselves, we stopped in for a visit at the Maritime Museum, which was full of lots of great exhibits.  We were especially enthralled by the many, many models of ships – incredible detail!  My favorite things here were the dry dock, which was OLD, and the ship in it, the HMAS Diamantina.   I love touring ships like this and just imagining what it would be like to be at sea on one without actually having to live that way!

On the way out, we passed a TEENY WEENY (2.7 metre) aluminum boat. Turns out that a young Canadian man built the boat, christened it “Happy”, sailed down to and through the Panama Canal, across the Pacific, and into New Caledonia, where he wrecked.  He rebuilt the boat and named it the Happy II, (this is the one that’s on display) which he sailed to Australia, where he donated it to the Queensland Maritime Museum.  I can’t even IMAGINE that journey!  From here, we walked across the river on the pedestrian bridge, where we got fantastic views of the Brisbane skyline and the Brisbane Wheel.

Our next stop was the Old Government House, which now houses a museum, a café, and a brand new art gallery, which had it’s opening night the night before we were there!  The gallery features the works of Brisbane-born artist William Robinson, who is the only artist to have won the coveted Archibald Prize for Portraiture twice.  The Government House once served as the residence for the governor of the state, so we got a chance to see what some of the living quarters would have been like back in the day.  We were getting a bit hungry, so we had sat down in the scullery to sample some of the treats served in the café.  Many groups were enjoying an elaborate tea, but we opted for light lunches.  Rex just got some banana nut bread, but I chose a goat cheese and vegetable tart – and some iced tea!!  It was some sort of herbal tea – reminded me of Red Zinger – but it had ice in it!  We all shared an order of Lamingtons for dessert – mmmm!  From www.australianfood.about.com: “Lamingtons are a quintessential part of every Australian's childhood. The little sponge cake is dipped in chocolate icing and then rolled in desiccated coconut.  These little treats are sold at school fairs and bake sales around the country.”

We walked down the street a ways to the Parliament House, but we didn't take the time to go inside.  We checked our taxi options for getting back to the car, and decided instead to take a ferry back across the river.  It took us a little while to find our way to the ferry stop, and then it took no time to get back to South Bank!  And then we were off to see the animals!

On the way to Lone Pine, Jan pointed out this classic example of Queenslander house.  It reminds me of a Savannah style house in the States, and it's a look I love and could live in!

Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary recently was voted  one of the Top 10 Zoos in the World by aol.  Created in 1927, it is the world's first and largest koala sanctuary with over 130 koalas (some to cuddle), kangaroos to pet. lorikeets to feed, lizards to step over, and tons more native animals to look at, all in natural settings.

I LOVE the colorful lorikeets!  Their brilliance is stunning, and they will fly right up to you and eat out of your hands.  Heads are a favorite perch!  We got there just in time for the last feeding. After the birds were fed, we went to pet some roos!  There was a huge enclosure, full of kangas and joeys.  They were SO CUTE!  But I have to say, some of the joeys looked WAY too big to still be in their mama's pouches!

Then for the highlight of my day, and one of the highlights of the whole trip - I got to cuddle a koala!  Meet Miss Crumpet - isn't she sweet?

  From here, we just saw as many Australian animals as we could, and they were very cooperative!  Everybody was out and looking good!  Check out the echidna and the wombat:

Then there was the very colorful and really ODD Cassowary, and the almost smiling River Crocodile:

After we left Lone Pine, we went back into town to meet Jan's kids, Cassie, Liz, and Anthony, for dinner at an Indian Restaurant.  We were a little early, so we stopped in a pub and had a drink and bought a bottle of wine to take to dinner.  Here we are, except for Elinor, who was taking the picture, enjoying our very tasty Indian food - we sampled lots and shared it all!  After dinner, we crossed the street to Cold Rock Creamery for some ice cream.  The perfect end to another perfect day!

Feeling like a Queen in Queensland,


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