Living in Perth means that you usually don’t get to see a whole lot of the rest of Australia.  Why?  Well, it’s expensive as hell to travel within Australia, it takes an inordinate amount of time to get anywhere and it is super expensive when you get there.  Why would you spend $1,000 on airfares and accommodation to get to the Eastern States for the weekend, when you could go somewhere in Asia for the same amount but probably stay for a week?  You see my point.

So while I am living in Melbourne, I have decided that now is a good time to check out some of the other Australian cities.

I decide to do a quick weekend trip to Brisbane, Queensland, in the north of Australia.  I make no plans, other than to make a hotel reservation in Fortitude Valley.  Jumping off my Virgin flight with only my carry on luggage, I head for the Airtrain.  This is a quick rail service that can take you from the airport to Fortitude Valley in around 16 minutes (or to the CBD in around 23 minutes).  These trains run every 15 minutes – an awesome service, which Perth really needs!

From the train station, I make my way through the streets to my hotel.  I have booked my stay at Limes Hotel and arrive to find really friendly staff and this cool, funky little room.

Now to explore!

Fortitude Valley is next door to Chinatown, so I of course I stop in for a quick stroll around.  There were some half-hearted markets on, but nothing special to check out.

Next I hop on a tourist bus to get the lay of the land and check out what else Brisy has to offer.  Driving through the CBD, the place seemed deserted!  I thought I was back in Perth for a moment!  The tall buildings blocked out any sunlight and it was so cold and empty feeling – there didn’t seem much point in getting off the bus to explore because it looked like everything was closed and there was hardly a soul around.  The buildings were gorgeous though.

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The bus kept going.

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Would you believe the reason for this great big canopy below this office building?  It’s because due to a design fault, the windows regularly pop out of their frames and smash onto the street below.  This canopy is the stop gap measure for those windows landing on someone’s head!

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Continuing on we pass by some traditional Queensland styled homes.  These are called – are you ready? – Queenslanders.  The style is characterised by the home being perched off the ground on stilts and with wide verandahs encircling the home.  The term was coined in the 1840’s and the construction is due to the fact that Queensland suffers from tropical heat with bouts of excessive rain and flooding.  Placing the home on stilts means ventilation in the heat and protection from the flooding during cyclone season!

I alight from the bus at Southbank (not the one in Melbourne, the two cities are not that close!) and stopped for some lunch and a glass of wine.  I sat at a restaurant with a view of the ferris wheel right outside and did a spot of people watching.  It was a lovely day and the sky was blue as anything.

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From here I wandered around the Southbank area.  There’s a walkway all the way round and families were out in force enjoying the day.  There’s even a little man-made beach section for paddling.

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Surely, it can’t be that far to walk back to the hotel, I thought to myself.  So I kept following the path back around.  I was wrong, but I was enjoying the view and the walk, so I kept going.  And going.  And going.

I was at least an hour away from my small room in Fortitude Valley.  The afternoon was closing up shop and the sun was starting to set on the horizon by the time I finally stopped walking.

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The next morning, I took a wander down to the shopping precinct where I did a quick browse of the shops but didn’t find anything of particular interest.

If I had more time and had hired a car to get out of the city, I might have enjoyed Brisbane a bit more, but I only had a day and a half.  I probably didn’t give Brisbane much of a chance, but nothing seemed to entice me and I was bored.

I couldn’t wait to get back on the plane to Melbourne.

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