Four Nights in Brisbane

We turned a Thursday work meeting into a long weekend in Brisbane and had a lovely time.

About a dozen years ago, we flirted quite seriously with the idea of moving to Brisbane. The other course of action worked out just fine, but we’ve always wondered a bit about life in a sleek high rise overlooking the river. We almost got a taste of that at the Westin Hotel, where we stayed on some leftover Marriott points. The hotel was super-nice, as was the service. We enjoyed breakfast and happy hour in the concierge lounge, where we met various interesting people with stories to tell. Last night was crowded and we shared space with a couple whose summary included “I used to be in the casino game, in Macau…” We did visit the Brisbane casino, housed in the old Treasury Building, and managed to leave with as much as came in with, victory!

Now that we’re in Auckland, Brisbane doesn’t seem quite so exotic, but after spending a few days exploring (my third time, Lee’s first) we would still totally live here.

My meeting was in a nice hotel located just under the Depression-era Story Bridge, with a cool view.

We took the City Cat ferry (top picture) all the way up and down the river, a great $5 ride. Lee also took a guided river tour and shared the best parts of the commentary with me.

The Botanic Garden…

Roo-dalisque?

We took some nice walks along the river, including the South Bank that is full of attractions. Sadly, the free pool was closed for maintenance. But we did see the Peace Pagoda from Nepal, a leftover from Expo 88. The explanatory plaque says it’s one of only three outside Nepal and also says that there are Peace Pagodas all over the world. Go figure.

We ate good burgers at the Triffid, a well known live music venue. Lots of band posters everywhere, mostly unknown to me.

We saw a bunch of different neighborhoods. All nice. We especially liked the slightly funky West End, where many of the world’s gluten-free vegans seem to have congregated so they can open little shops and sell stuff to each other. We ran into a really impressive market there.

It’s a Kiwi cliché that we now believe, fresh produce is way cheaper here. Also gas. And real estate from what we saw. Hmmm, no wonder so many New Zealanders are moving to Oz.

There was a lot of public art…

That’s a scale model of the dome of a Cathedral that was contemplated for over 40 years, but finally the plans were abandoned for lack of funding.

Statues of Byrnes and Burns, two men who accomplished a lot and died young.

I hope this carving, in the very posh part of the waterfront area, is called something like To Have and Have Knot.

We did an Asian food-themed walking tour, meh. They took us to a Filipino place we’d discovered on our own the day before…

We also took in an improv comedy show that was truly remarkable in its amateurishness.

And then on the last morning, I wandered down to the finish line of the Brisbane Marathon in time to watch the winner roll in in a time of 2:33. That’s a hell of a lot faster than I could have ever run, and pretty good for a hometown white guy with a full time job. But in the running villages of the Kenyan highlands, I’m pretty sure kids that slow don’t get dessert.

I had a good time watching all the half marathon and even 10K finishers coming in… so many tales of agony and exhilaration and all sorts of other emotions on unvarnished display.

That’s the winner in the center. If he passes red shirt guy in the next 80 meters he’ll have run twice as far in the same time.

All in all, we packed in a lot and find ourselves tired and ready to go home. Tomorrow is Queen’s Birthday holiday so there’s a day to recover. But if duty ever called… a person could do way worse than Brisbane.

Sydney!

Got to go to Sydney a couple weeks ago for an HL7 meeting. Here’s a few shots. It seems like I always get to make a scenic approach over the Harbour.

The meeting was held in the very rarefied air of the KPMG offices.

Random morning run pictures. It was very beautiful. There are some parts of business travel I miss, for sure.

But 48 hours later… home again. And I stop missing those parts.

Brisbane again

I got to go to a conference in Brisbane last week… what a great city to visit! Public art everywhere, parks and paths, an awesome outdoor swimming pool, fairy lights in the banyans at night, bats and birds… the list goes on.

Here’s a few pics:

No, no, it’s NORTH Warrandyte

After my meetings ended Friday, I got to spend a magical day in the Yarra Valley with my friends Paul and Amanda. They’ve recently moved to a fantabulous property about an hour outside Melbourne. North Warrandyte is the right side of the tracks, and their place is amazing.

You can just make out the cockatoos at the feeder beyond the deck.

We had a great dinner at the Grand on Friday, taking advantage of the shuttle service. Then, Saturday morning we all got our 10,000 steps in by walking around Warrandyte State Park.

This was gold panning country back in the day, and as you can see from the map the river takes a few turns. Somebody got the bright idea to blast a tunnel across that narrow oxbow so they could undermine their upstream competition.

Good engineering, bad business plan. They went bust shortly after completing the tunnel.

We saw massive numbers of parrots, rosellas, cockatoos , and other birds, maybe a dozen species I’d never seen.

This kookaburra let us get pretty close, but he didn’t laugh. There are YouTube videos if you’ve never heard one.

There was a big mob of kangaroos, including the mom with joey that you can barely make out in this picture.

But the closest encounter I had with the ‘roos was, shall we say, more grounded…

Then lunch and and pool time, and back on the plane. In flight bonus: made it through most of Game of Thrones Season 7, finally.

All in all, a great visit and a great little break!!!

Melbourne or bust

Air New Zealand got bonus points for personalised service on my quick work-related hop over to Melbourne this week.

Another city, another hotel room view, ho-hum. But there were compensations…

I arrived on Ladies Day, part of the big Melbourne Cup horse racing week, and everyone from debutantes to the more matronly gets all dolled up with special hats and makes a day of it.

Brisbane or bust


A dozen years ago, we thought seriously about a situation in Brisbane, and much of the daydreaming involved a high-rise apartment on the waterfront. 

Now I’ve finally gotten to see the place. It’s pretty great. Maybe not quite as great as Auckland, but pretty great. 

Nine hours in Sydney

You usually see the Opera House from the front, but the side view was pretty good too. 

Train station. 

Now it’s off to Brisbane for a really long stay, 22 hours!

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