Brisbane

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Shock horror, our Virgin Australia jet departed ON TIME from Cairns and arrived in Brisbane 15, yes FIFTEEN Minutes early.  No delays, no broken ground equipment, a comfortable pleasant flight, with half decent food to. Thank you Mr Branson, although you don’t own the airline anymore.

Quickly to our hotel (very nice) and a trip up to the Apple Store in Brisbane to fix a snag with Lyn’s Laptop.  After that, coffee.  Friends had told us of the fantastic coffee culture in Brisbane so we were keen to try it out.  We were recommended to try the Noosa Chocolate Company’s product.  As well as decent coffee it sells home produced chocolate of many varieties. Fruit and chocolate, nuts and chocolate. Sounds ideal.  Found it, walked in and there were racks and shelves of chocolate  varieties lining both walls  with a small counter at the far end serving coffee.  Coffee was very good but the chocolate looked yummy.  On the shelf in front of me as a single 5Kg block of chocolate which cost A$185! And no I did not buy it for anyone back home!

Rather than give a blow by blow account of our time here I thought I would try and give a picture of what Brisbane is like now, through writing about it, the history, and through the photographs included.

Brisbane in 2017 is an amazing place.  The skyline of the Central Business district where we are staying is peppered with high rise office accommodation all contained within futuristic looking buildings.  Business here is booming judging by the investment in parks, office space, and generally keeping the place clean and tidy.  There is little or no litter anywhere, the park areas are immaculate and geared up for all to use, whether you are runner, walker, rambler or cyclist every one is tolerant of the others activities and each respects the other, giving way with grace.  The people are genuine, friendly and helpful and always serve you with a smile, which is meant. They always have time to chat and are genuinely interested in what we are doing and what our trip entails. In comparison when in Boston (USA) last year we found the interest and service to be a bit false, service with a smile, only for long enough to take your money off you.

As many will know, Captain James Cook claimed Australia for the British when he landed at Botany Bay in 1788 to establish a penal colony after first exploring in the 1770s.  However the Brits were not the first here; the Dutch made it earlier, in 1606 but visited only the north coasts, which were (and still are in places) fairly inhospitable, oh and the Portuguese also had a go, hence the name of the Torres Strait which separated Papua New Guinea (PNG) from Australia, but they did not find much either, and the native aboriginals at the time were pretty unfriendly.

In the years that followed Cook’s arrival other colonies were established. but a permanent settlement in the region was not founded until 1823, when New South Wales Governor Thomas Brisbane was petitioned by free settlers in Sydney to send their worst convicts elsewhere and the area chosen eventually became the city of Brisbane. The river on which the city lies, often a source of frustration for explorers, because they knew of its existence but could not find it, was named after this Governor.

On 6 September 1859, the Municipality of Brisbane was proclaimed. The next month, polling for the first council was conducted. John Petrie was elected the first mayor of Brisbane. Queensland was formally established as a self-governing colony of Great Britain, separate from New South Wales, in 1859.

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Picture of a  painting illustrating what Brisbane looked like…..

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…….and what part of it looks like today.

Originally the neighbouring city of Ipswich was intended to be the capital of Queensland, but it proved to be too far inland to allow access by large ships, so Brisbane was chosen instead. But it was not until 1902 that Brisbane was officially designated a city.

During WW2 Brisbane became the home of the American Pacific forces after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour.  The arrival of many thousands of American troops did not sit well with the locals and frustrations grew until a full scale riot broke out.  The results were one Australian serviceman dead with many injured on both sides.  This was not even reported in the American media. This incident was dubbed the Battle of Brisbane.

Post war, Brisbane initially struggled with lack of money but slowly developed into the thriving business centre it is today.  They hosted the Commonwealth Games in 1982  the World Trade Fair in 1988, and played host to the G20 group of industrial nations summit in 2014.

Brisbane is prone to flooding, and a comprehensive flood mitigation scheme was instituted for the Brisbane River catchment area in the aftermath of the 1974 flood. Since then the city remained largely flood free, until the recent floods in January 2011 and 2013.

flood-mark

This picture in the lobby of our hotel illustrates the high water mark from the 1974 flood.  The hotel is about 0.5 miles from the river bank!

As I write today, (1 Feb 17) in what should be the rainy season, they have had less than a quarter of the average rainfall for the season.  Worryingly the reservoirs are at less than 50% capacity and water usage has increased. The Brisbanites don’t seem too worried though, they are just enjoying the sunshine.

Meanwhile Lyn and I are enjoying what Brisbane has to offer and will report more of this very soon.

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