Sunday February 17, 2008 – Brisbane, Australia
Since our hotel in Brisbane was only about 2km outside of the Central Business District, we decided to take a bus into the city in lieu of a more expensive taxi. In a stroke of luck, the bus stop was located right outside of our hotel, making the process of getting into Brisbane fairly easy. We decided to begin our day with one of our favorite places in any city, Chinatown.
The Chinatown in Brisbane consists of little more than a couple of malls in a small section of the CBD. We popped around the area a bit, but given that it was Sunday and still rather early in the morning, not much was going on. After a few minutes, we headed back to the bus stop to continue our journey into the heart of the city.
Brisbane’s CBD is located close to Queen Street and is a collection of shopping malls, retail locations and office buildings. The bus dropped us off one block from the Queen Street Mall. The Queen Street mall stretches on along Queen Street in a pedestrian plaza that has been closed to traffic. Our main objective of the day was to obtain a guidebook to start planning our Southeast Asia adventures, so we shopped around at a few bookstores before making our purchase.
After thirty minutes it was evident that this place is a shopper’s mecca. On both sides of the street, massive shopping malls tower overhead. We headed to the Myer department store to see their book collection because they were advertising 40% off the cover price. 40% is wonderful in Australia given that most book stores sell all books at the cover price which is usually double what it should be in USD. For example, a book that costs $24.95USD in America, costs $42.95AUD or around $37USD in Australia. To make it worse, in America I would pay around $17 for that book because I can get it well below the cover price. With all of this factored in, the books here end up costing around double what they do in America.
After negotiating the five story Myer department store and mall, we headed over to the food court for lunch. I was happy to see that they had good Chinese food, since in Newcastle I hadn’t been able to find any. When we finished with lunch, we explored a bit more before finally ending up at the Roma Street Parklands.
The Roma Street Parklands are the “…largest subtropical gardens in an urban environment”. To get to the parklands, we had to walk through a train station and up a set of stairs. We read in our guidebook that they had a train circling the parklands and we were excited for this, but it turned out to be a tram, so we opted to walk around ourselves.
It took us around an hour to navigate our way through the subtropical beauty of the parklands. At one point Shawn Reece stopped and enjoyed the playground before we pushed on. The park while tropical and full of nature, is surrounded by tall high rises on all sides, making it hard to completely lose yourself in the park. It is as if the city is looming overhead as a reminder of where you are.
Believe it or not, between walking around the city, shopping for books and visiting the park, most of the day was gone. Around 5pm we headed back for the bus and to the hotel. Our itinerary for the next day was full and included visits to the Queensland Museum, Queensland Art Gallery and the Brisbane Botanical Gardens.
The Coomer Family