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Queensland - that other Sunshine State

Well here I am at the end of my second week at my second house sit and all is well. I am staying in a very comfortable modern bungalow on a complex 9.5 miles from the centre of Brisbane and looking after two beautiful animals. 532DC5B4C33068446E811A2EF9842263.jpg5330DBE0AF03744CB92CF4A052E67FF4.jpg5328EF499A98115CE4E8BA20016C08A5.jpgTashi, Tibetan Terrier, incredibly well behaved and obedient and Muffin, Siamese/Burmese, very vocal and does what all cats seem to do best, rule the roost! They normally sleep on their owner's bed and let themselves out/in during the night through the cat flap and, in a spirit of empathy towards them, I left my bedroom door open. Those of you who know me well will appreciate how much this cost me because I ABSOLUTELY HATE animals on beds. Nonetheless I felt sorry for them so....this lasted for three sleepless nights while the cat was on/off/on and meowing relentlessly as soon as dawn broke and it wanted breakfast. After the third night I discovered they had actually both spent most of the night on the sofa so from then on my door has been closed and I have slept like a baby.
That first week brought the edge of a tropical storm and three nights of monsoon showers (we didn't get much during the days surprisingly) the noise was incredible, the dog was terrified and the bull frogs were having parties. If you have never heard a bullfrog think barking seal and yes it really is as loud as that. The little creek turned into a lake and the bridge we use to cross over it was submerged. After the waters subsided you could see from the debris line on the railings just how high the water had been and I would say it must have risen by at least 3.5 metres above it's usual level. 532C877EBE17623ED96B4F2D5A3A7598.jpg532FD2370C16D6667C746157F2EBD42D.jpgSuffice it to say that I was a bit bleary eyed for most of that first week and didn't do much more than explore the local area and settle into the rhythm of life in one of the 'burbs' of Brisbane.
The area is quite densely populated and the, mostly bungalows, are close together, so that having a private conversation in your garden would probably be difficult, this surprised me given that the climate lends itself to an outdoor way of life. There are also a lot of new builds going up but considering how close this is to the city centre it is amazingly cheap. Compared with the area that T&B are looking in I would say the same size property here would be about 30% of the price they will expect to pay but Sydney prices are way ahead of the rest of the country and have risen by 13.7% in the last year which is almost double that of Melbourne, the next highest at 7.4%.
This complex has a shared swimming pool, that no one except me seems to use, and this property has school playing fields at the back and is situated near the end of a cul-de-sac where a secure gate leads onto woodland and a cycle path/walkway that winds for several kilometres in various directions. 532A71CCEA49C1943850BA9235C7D2EE.jpg5332226BB5CAC8D18B62C987E813FDFF.jpg
It is very easy for Tashi and me to enjoy a couple of hour long walks each day without going anywhere near a road and the woodland is teeming with wonderful bird life. We regularly encounter white ibis, grey and white herons, beautifully coloured parakeets and, of course, the ubiquitous kookaburras. This afternoon Tashi managed to 'put up' two galahs, a wild turkey and a duck whilst taking a drink in the waterway next to the path. We are also meeting lots of other friendly dog walkers, and, in the mornings, an elderly Chinese couple doing Tai Chi and another elderly Chinese lady who promenades the length of the path covered up against the sun and followed at a short distance by a portly Chinese gentleman who invariably looks uncomfortable in the heat and always carries an umbrella (?). It's difficult to tell whether they are together or not perhaps he is her bodyguard. There is also a man who feeds organic raw meat to a kookaburra that comes to perch on his fence each afternoon and who is allowed to stroke it, cautiously I'm sure, their beaks look lethal.
My body/blood has obviously not yet become acclimatised because I seem to be providing the local bugs with nutritious snacks from time to time and I'm going through rather a lot of white vinegar. The upside is that at $1.10 for 2 litres, it is a fraction of the price of pharmaceuticalproducts and it seems to be just as effective. You get used to the smell after a while.
I don't have the use of a car at this house sit but that is not an issue as there are supermarkets a ten minute walk away and a frequent bus service that runs into the city. There is also a train station just 1.5 mile walk and I plan to use that to visit the Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast next week. I took the bus into the city last Wednesday and my first impressions of Brisbane were good. It feels very 'user friendly'. The bus runs underneath the city on a dedicated bus road and there is a stop that allows you to emerge right on the edge of the pedestrian shopping mall with it's high end designer shops, lots of cafes and a square in which a host of free events are put on. The last city stop is just across the river in the 'Cultural Mall' and is literally between the science museum, library and main art galleries on one side and the performing arts centre, with several different theatres, on the other. 53DA19FAF5AD9C5199E2D8423DCDD77D.jpg53D8647FB8EB102CE1A62488FA477D74.jpg 53DC0C6099DE916BBF01833700B27A41.jpg53DD36C0B4DD9A4C8E53090859273872.jpg
I spent a totally self indulgent four and a half hours between the Museum of Modern art and the Queensland Art Gallery and just for once preferred the modern art. 549E21C9BDA770B918ECBE84FD6AC57D.jpg549BCC919BBDD09B6344FBC0F77B23CF.jpg54A18DAAF4C58275FF35AB5A5CEDD7CC.jpg54A06CEBF32792014410B3BF1C8CCCFB.jpg549A5907FFBD3C81DA40616ED075B5C3.jpg549CE53CA50E620BE57D0FF4F749F893.jpg5485F637A11A0688EDE3EC4B8D29B221.jpg5484D11BCB77A604B16D41C015FDE42F.jpg54839BE6BD92C34E0B5856D49EEE81BB.jpg5482465FB9C4A7D53BB8FBE7A8171891.jpg547FEB9AEE247C1F1F7049B31330AD79.jpg547EB668CA91108BFEBB595EB4C568D7.jpg5487A3DFC4DBB45ECD3A5A055B6EE435.jpg549901C7B75DC39C056AC9AACCAA4726.jpg5497D8AFCD37C940FB852FD650C2A010.jpg549F6024CE70099319213243A0B0F3BF.jpg (The necklace is made from painted snail shells and yes that last installation is a set of car wash brushes going at different speeds and intermittently) The museums and galleries are all free entry but I paid to experience an exhibition of work by David Lynch and found it very disturbing. It was advertised as 'a rare opportunity to consider ... his practice as an artist, film maker and musician' and I suppose if I had seen anything of his other than 'Twin Peaks' (which, okay, was a bit bizarre) I might have known what to expect. As it was there seemed to be a morbid concentration of naked dismembered female torsos penetrated by giant phalluses, in one form or another, and other things like an animated 'Six Men Getting Sick' and a painting of 'Man Just After Being Shot'. 547D95EEFFCBE980CCC4B3779B6A2C51.jpg Unless you are a real fan I would advise that you give the exhibition a miss should it come to a gallery near you but then I am not an art critic and maybe some people like this kind of stuff???
I had intended to go into the science museum but had forgotten that it is Easter school holidays and the museum, which is holding a dinosaur exhibition, was mobbed so that will be a visit for another day. A short walk across Victoria Bridge, and a great view of the 60 metre tall 'Wheel of Brisbane' (where have I seen that before?) and I was in amongst the farmers market and the designer shops. 53DB1049C325515CF26190B413DF7771.jpg 54176218DCB98C74C36E06C4A248C390.jpgI found the Information Centre and a really helpful assistant spent ages talking to me about what to do/where to go and plied me with an armful of leaflets which have turned out to be incredibly useful. The IC itself runs free walking tours every weekday at 12 o clock from outside the office and there is also a volunteer group called 'Brisbane Greeters' (leaflet from the Information Centre) who are all local people that will tailor a walk through the city, completely free of charge, to suit your particular interest/s.
There is a lot going on in this city, and much of it is free. For my second visit I'm planning a HoHo bus tour, guided walk and ferry ride to experience the city from the water. So much to do and, thankfully, so much time. Fortunately my canine charge is used to being left during the day and the homeowner has encouraged me to get out and about so...happy days!
I was also introduced to some of the neighbours before the owner left and have been invited to a Birthday/Anzak Day party on 25th April so that will be an interesting experience.
I leave you with this article from the free magazine MX (like the Metro mag given out on trains from/to London) I'm not sure that a UK publisher would have got away with this headline but I am finding Australians to be refreshingly plain spoken. 5456FD31C2C2D80087F6EAF514D7050A.jpg

Posted by busyboots 23:06

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Lovely blog Jane - brought back memories of my trips to Brisbane - and the Gold Coast - I have a cousin in Burleigh Heads - some great walks there around the Head - also Tweed Heads is gorgeous - on the Queensland / NSW border and not far from Byron Bay - Take care - continue to enjoy - Regards from Edward xx

by edblake

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