Sunday morning brought both sunshine and a change of scenery as we departed the urban jungle of the Brisbane CBD for the leafy suburbs. Fig Tree Pocket is the riverfront home to some of Queensland’s most expensive houses but it has another feature we would spend most of that day exploring.
We took the boat up river to the University of Queensland, stopping to meet up with Clare and grab breakfast before getting the bus out to our destination.
Founded in 1927, Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary has the double distinction of being both the oldest and largest koala sanctuaries in the world. What began as a humble beginning with only two koalas (Jack and Jill) gained international fame when visited by the wife of General Douglas MacArthur , Jean, during World War II. Since then it has grown into an 18 hectare home for many Australian species, marsupials and reptiles alike.
Our journey began in the Aviary Section. A decent collection of both birds and bats. There was an impressive pair of Tawny Frogmouths, distant relatives of Owls belonging to the Nightjar Family, but most of the inhabitants were common Australian Birds that we see all the time down in Sydney – Kookaburras, Noisy Miners,Cockatoos and Rainbow Lorikeets.
We moved on and saw some reptiles, Eastern Water Dragons and a Perentie with a massive forked tongue. There was quite a collection and it included a wildlife experience with a python by one of the rangers – Hamish. We spent quite a while being entertained by a pair of Dingos playing the most intense game of ‘Tag’ you will ever see. Wish we got a video!
After a drinks break we made our way into the free range enclosure to check out some larger animals – namely Emus , Wallabies and Kangaroos. With over 150 in resident we had no trouble finding them.
Lone Pine operates a small farm in the corner of the Sanctuary so we headed there next. We came across some bizarre looking ‘chooks’ in the yard. Chinese Silkie Chickens are big and hairy compared to the small and cute piglets.
We made it in time for one of the Sheepdog shows and it was amazing to see all those sheep get herded and bossed around by a beautiful red Kelpie.
But the real reason we came, (clue: It’s in the title!), was to see the Koala Bears. Phascolarctos cinereus are a vulnerable species of marsupial resident in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland. As usual, the destructive nature of man is responsible for this status. Related to the Wombat, their fluffy round ears, easy going nature and spoon shaped noise scream “Kawaii”.
With over 30 Koalas in residence it was fascinating to see them all and how they interact with each other. Particularly cute was the mother and baby koala.
We spent ages gazing at the group of Koalas and only moved on when it was their feeding time. The logistics of this are worth noting as a handful of rangers appeared with more Eucalyptus than found in The Body Shop.
As we left Lone Pine to make it back to Brisbane, Clare pointed out something. Atop a walkway and soaring above some of the enclosures was ….. The Bloggers Peak! Complete with writing desk, laptop chargers and a map of the sanctuary.
That night Clare had a girls night out with her pals so Karen and I ventured back to the West End for some dinner, drinks and of course Ice Cream!!!!
After hearing good things about the Little Greek Taverna we headed there for food – lamb kofte 🙂 And after that we found ourselves grabbing some icecream at the Gelato Messina South Brisbane – one of their largest Gelaterias. We had a nightcap at 9 Fish Lane (Maker) and got another chance to check out some more of that Street Art- including a huge mural dedicated to Muhammad Ali.
Here Comes the Rain Again..
Most people think Australia is basked in glorious sunshine all the time, even at night. Shows like Home and Away and Water Rats paint this idyllic picture of a sun drenched oasis.
It rains more in Sydney than it does in London.
Brisbane follows a similar pattern and so it was that we find ourselves on the last day of our trip in a rainy stormy city.
Karen and Clare were not impressed but John was beaming like the Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland as this meant Museums and Art Galleries time.
Along the South Bank of Brisbane is the Queensland Cultural Centre. Like the Barbican Centre in London, this city within a city contains a number of museums and art galleries all tied together by a labyrinth of walkways, stairwells and plazas.
We spent the rest of our last day exploring the buildings and contents of the Queensland Museum, State Library of Queensland and the GOMA (Gallery of Modern Art).
Our Standout pieces would be the following:
Traditional Costumes from Papua New Guinea. They looked amazing. Like something from the thoughts of Frank Oz.
In the Watermall was the vast and impressive Narcissus Garden by renowned Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama. The first iteration of this work was at the 1966 Vienna Biennale and it’s simple structure formed from a multitude of plastic silver balls represents everything from political cynicism to social critique (apparently!)
Finally there was a large collection of Chinese Propaganda Posters. 200 Items from an International Institute in Amsterdam chronicling everything from the May Thirtieth Movement (1925) up to the Cultural Revolution of the late 60s and beyond.
And that was our trip to Brisbane for the long weekend. It’s a really great city with a lot going for it and it was thoroughly enjoyable spending a few days exploring it’s various institutions, lane ways and hidden gems.