March 21st, 2006:
...and so onto Brisbane. Brisbane is located on the east coast of Oz and was settled well before Western Australia (where Perth is located) was fully explored by colonial explorers. It was originally started in 1825 as a prison settlement but was opened up for general settlement in 1840 and is today home to 1.6 million people.
It starts to hit home just how vast this country is when you consider that it takes about five hours to fly from Ireland to New York and it similarly takes four and a half to five hours to fly from Perth to Brisbane.
Brisbane is noticeably different to Perth. Perth was all modern architecture and is more business/corporate orientated. Brisbane has history: there's a lot of older style buildings amongst the modern skyscrapers. It also has pieces of modern art in parks/streets and is more geared up for backpackers and tourists. There also appears to be more of a buzz about the place in the evenings.
The weather is also different: it is actually cloudy here and gone are the days of 37C (as in Perth). To be fair, the clouds visible at the moment are related to an outer spire of a hurricane, but the locals here also say that it is cloudier and wetter here in general. That wetter weather hasn't prevented water restrictions from being introduced though: many skyscrapers have water features (e.g. pools and fountains), but many of those pools are now empty due to the restrictions. Apparently they are not far off moving to the next level of restrictions which will include fining people who wash their cars or water their gardens.
Walking around the CBD reveals lots of shops, colleges, museums, apartments and white-collar businesses. Also next to the CBD is the famous Story Bridge. This steel bridge was completed in 1940 and while not as famous as the Sydney Harbor Bridge, it is still popular with tourists. For the thrill seekers there is also the possibility of walking up and over the metal girders and supports: it should be noted, though, that the bridge is quite tall, that it can get windy there and the safety rails for the walk only went upto my waist so its not for the faint hearted. I gave the walk a skip as I intend to do the Sydney bridge and I wouldn't want to detract from that.
So, in the coming days I'll be doing the main sights around Brissy. I had intended on going further north after Brisbane but the last hurricane (not the current one causing the increased cloud cover) was a Category 5 with wind speeds of 300Kph and it clobbered the cities up there so its all up in the air (so to speak). In the mean time I'm off to my next off-shore island (!)