Friday 4th March – Brisbane

For the first time on this whole trip, I forgot to put my watch back last night. I’m normally quite good at remembering. Not like me to forget something that important. On the upside, it meant that I was up and showered in time to watch Stranger Than Fiction, which is a lovely film. Might well go straight into my top ten ever.

We disembarked and found mum’s cousin, Joyaa, waiting for us. It was a long walk from the ship to the meeting point. They really should have warned us and offered wheelchair assistance (we found one for the return trip later!). It was lovely to see Joyaa. It’s been nearly seven years since we last saw him (we think!).

He drove us to Mount Coont-tha (?) (different spellings are available, but Kunta doesn’t seem any better), which gave us a spectacular view over the whole of Brisbane. We drove around the botanical gardens twice before we found the summit restaurant, so we got a good view of the local flora and fauna of the area as well, including getting very up close and personal with a bearded dragon, a kookaburra and an ibis. The road that runs around the mountain is shaped like Africa, so I navigated it as such (I was on map-reading duty all day). So I would announce, for example, that we were at Senegal, and aiming for Cape Town.

At the summit café, we had a snack lunch and some well-earned drinks and took lots of photos of the view. We also did some family tree surfing – Joyaa has built the most amazing website for grandpa’s tree – it’s phenomenal. We read out bits of mum’s great-grandfather’s UK naturalisation application, which turned out to include a drink driving conviction! Seriously, Wales let anyone in, in those days.

Then we went to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary (biggest in the world – are there many?!). No hesitation about student or senior discounts here. I pushed mum around the place in a borrowed wheelchair. It is all very smooth tarmac, but no one has given any thought to GRADIENTS, and sometimes I was very worried about stopping in time at the bottom – I had to swerve at least once to avoid some tables and chairs. And several times, on the ups, I was laid out at full stretch trying to get her up the hill. They are VERY steep. At one point, I thought I was going to give – either at my back or a knee – in which case, she would have rolled back down onto my head and probably killed me instantly. Someone really needs to talk to them about their wheeled access.

Mum had her photo taken with Cinnamon the koala – who was so lazy, she wouldn’t even open her mouth for eucalyptus, it had to be posted in – and then, after another drink (it was about 28 in the shade – maybe 35 in the sun), we drove to the University of Queensland, as Joyaa had an appointment. We used the free wifi in a nearby café and I bought some items in the Dental Faculty’s student shop, while we waited for him (flash drives are particularly cheap here, for some reason).

When Joyaa got back, we made our way to a wonderful restaurant, called The Odyssey. It is inside the Greek Club, which is a community-owned venue on the South Bank. This seems like a superb way to fundraise for your own community. Provided you have a proper restaurateur to run it, like they do here. We had one of the best meals of this entire trip. Even the live music wasn’t too loud. But the portions were VAST. I had something called lemon potatoes, which I had never had before. But I am now utterly hooked. They’re absolutely divine.

After dinner, Joyaa drove us all the way back to the ship – we weren’t in a container port this time, we were in a GRAIN DEPOT at the very end of the city. It was MILES away from anywhere. Literally at the end of the road. Any further, in any direction, you get wet. Poor Joyaa had an hour and a half journey to get home again afterwards. We felt quite bad about that.

But what a wonderful day. Glorious weather, and the best company possible. I hope it isn’t another seven years before we see Joyaa again.

The things to do list for next visits (if any) currently includes:

Sydney: Fort Dennison, Manly again – properly, paddle steamer.

Brisbane: Fort Lytton

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