Our final destination is the city of Brisbane also in the Queensland Province, but required a 2 hour flight from Cairns. We are bedding down on the 15th floor of a “serviced” apartment building that has a large balcony that overlooks a really marvelous city straddling both sides of the river connected by pedestrian bridges as well as roadways. There are many modern high rises of exciting design, but we chose to start our self tour by visiting the historic Provincial Government District.
We had an audio guide that nicely explained the development of the City and its buildings from its penal colony days to being recognized by British Queen Victoria as the Capital of the newly formed province of Queensland (Sidney in New South Wales Province was not pleased). The older architecture and gardens have been restored and maintained, but the government functions have long been replaced by business offices and the “ Brisbane Casino”.
Across the river from our place was the arboretum, the QUT campus (Queensland University of Technology), outdoor theater, small water park, giant ferris wheel, and most importantly the bar and restaurant quarter, similar to the former “flats” of Cleveland. This was a great place to stroll, people watch, and imbibe in tasty delights—and we did just that into the evening. The walk home at night across the pedestrian bridge was scenic with multi colored light patterns on the many buildings and bridges along the river walk—just beautiful.
The next morning we took the train from Brisbane for about 1 ½ hours to the city of “Beerwah”, not to be confused with the earlier stop at “Beerburrow”. This is the home of the “Crocodile Hunter”, Steve Irwin. Here, he established his private zoo, now known as ‘Australian Zoo”, before his untimely and tragic death about 10 years ago-not by a Croc, but by a sting ray.
As you have guessed, we really like zoos—this being the third in less than 3 weeks—but they are so unique in theme and animals, and in presentation.
The Australian Zoo gives wonderful access to Koalas; you can hold these soft little creatures as well as pet them; Koala work time is limited to ½ hour on and 5-6 hours off. They are allowed to climb up their favorite trees right into the cafeteria area or overhang the walkways in Koala Retreat. The Zoo also allows unfettered access to Kangaroos; pet them right and they flip to their sides or back for tummy rubs. Roos fur is surprisingly soft. See our pics below of all of us with animals, FYI, Frank's was not soft and fluffy!
The Zoo also does a crocodile show where this gigantic animal, called Agro, 15 ft and 1,300 lbs., stalks the trainer from poolside to poolside and reacts to his every move waiting to be fed; the trainer is very careful as the crocodile raises up on its front legs with gapping jaws waiting for the food to drop. It is actually very exciting.
Finally, we were treated to the playful feeding of a yearling tiger cub. This cub was big. The two trainers, working in unison, would drip milk over the cat’s whiskers and lips---slurp, slurp, slurp—while touching his nose and he would follow them obediently around the pen for another treat. For us, this was the most amazing wild animal interaction.
We took the train back to Brisbane; returned to the nifty riverside bar area for dinner, packed up, and said our fair wells between great friends. We left at 5:30 am for the airport and our flight to New Zealand so we quietly slipped out leaving our friends with some extra sleep. We will miss them and hope to visit them in Denver soon. We trust they had a wonderful time with us in Australia with us and will have an easy flight home. See some of our photos of our great time together