We arrived into Brisbane early morning on the 8th of September. With a non-functioning GPS that we brought from Canada and a rather useless map that the airport gave us, it took us over an hour to get to Jay's house.... as we were trying to avoid the toll bridges. Driving on the other side of the road did not overly help the situation....
We drove my brother to the 'Stampede', which was our first taste of Brisbane's events. It was a 10km run through many obstacles which included crawling through mud and shocks of 10,000 volts delivered from hanging wires .... was a great way to start our trip.
After having supper and beverages overlooking one of the many bridges in Brisbane, we are quite jealous of his lifestyle. After meeting Jay's friends we had only met one Australian and the rest were Canadian....... all were amazing people and treated us like family. Local markets, fresh foods, nice weather and a beautiful river valley are all attractive qualities this eastern city has to offer. We were in Brisbane during their two week long festival, and witnessed one of the most spectacular light shows we have ever seen.
Brisbane has three notable downsides.....
The roadways are nothing like Alberta's grid system. Turning in roundabouts every four blocks, taking turns onto side streets that are somehow main roadways and aggressive drivers were all nuances, especially on the left side of the road.
Toll Bridges.....Why charge people to cross the river? It is automatically charged to the licence plate which is connected to my credit card through the rental car.
No drip coffee! Brisbane loves their espresso and doesn't even know what a 'coffee maker' is. When we asked for a drip coffee in any shop the closest they could do is put an espresso in water and call it a "long black".
We had the lovely opportunity to visit the Steve Irwin Zoo. After feeding elephants and seeing many varying species of animals, of which Aussie hosts 80% of the worlds most dangerous animals, it opened our eyes to the true elements this vast countries offers. We left the zoo with the impression back country camping is not for us.
The Koala sanctuary was beautiful. The life expectancy for above average of the Koala's in this home away from home is significantly longer, with the oldest living past 22 years of age. Our picture with a Koala was quickly checked off our bucket list and many more poisonous snakes were seen. More Kangaroos were petted as if they were dogs and the day came to a quick end at sunset before 6pm followed by a tedious drive back to Jay's place. Our favorite part of the sanctuary would be the designated 'kindergarten' and 'retirement home' places for the Koalas which consisted of similar eat and sleep cycles.
Off we went to Byron Bay. Along the way we passed Surfer's Paradise, which was anything but a surfer's paradise. Commercialized and overdeveloped, we had no desire to spend much time in this congestion.
Byron Bay was beautiful. Similar to Tofino, small town, local shops, hippies and surfing. This is surfer's paradise. We surfed at 'the pass' which we were surrounded by other surfer's twice as good and half our age. The waves were ok and the beach was great. Above 'the pass' is a spectacular light house that becomes more impressive as the sun sets. With whales visible in the background, this evening came to a perfect end.
The hostel we stayed at was clean and welcomed by everyone. We met mostly Europeans travelling the country with working Visa's. Our last night consisted of $5 supper, several free jugs of beer and Amanda winning more free drinks, kayak trip with the dolphins, hot yoga and a trip to Nimbin, which is apparently only used to purchase drugs from the inland. We were not able to use any of these 'luxuries' due to time restraints. We had a great night and a bigger headache leaving this small town than when we entered it.