Yesterday we had a City Day, it being our holiday. The idea was to take my wide-angle lens for a spin. We finished the city tour at the Regatta, one of Brisbane’s best-known hostelries, whose offerings include awesome beer and amazing pizzas. Oh, and historic architecture (suitable for my wide-angle lens, lovingly restored after the 2011 flood.
The Brisbane River has peaked at Indooroopilly, and while the creek below our house has risen considerably, our house seems to have escaped, despite its proximity to the river. Our road didn’t flood, either. Even just a few hundred meters away, many people were not this lucky. We went for a walk along the river bank, taking a camera.
The much-heralded Winter Festival will start this weekend in Brisbane, so I went to have a look at the preparations. The announcements had been for a European-style “magical” Christmas Market around the pièce de résistance: An ice rink.
Now, Brisbane is having an exceptionally cold spell at the moment — today’s maximum was just 15C despite the blazing sunshine. An outdoor ice rink in the subtropics presents some problems, which clearly haven’t been quite overcome yet, judging by the not-entirely-frozen state of the water.
Still, an effort has clearly been made, and the handful of huts look festive enough. Authentic German Currywurst and, in a specially-fenced-off, alcohol-allowed enclosure, even Glühwein are being advertised, alongside something I have never seen in a real Christmas Market: doughnuts served with caramelised condensed milk. A more off-putting combination is hard to imagine. Though come to think of it, I can’t quite envisage any kind of food that would be enhanced by the addition of caramelised condensed milk.
Anyway, might be fun watching first attempts at ice-skating though I’ll need persuading on the Glühwein. Glühwein when one isn’t cold just seems… wrong. Also, they serve it in mugs (!) at $8 each. At that price, I wonder if you get to keep the mug?
Anyway, piccies below, including my contribution to today’s Daily Shoot.
A photo shoot is just the thing when trying to distract oneself from annoying things like a broken dishwasher (disaster!). I went for some city shots today. I took some images with the intention of stitching them together into panoramic pictures. This worked well but the resulting pictures have odd proportions and hence don’t look good if viewed as a thumbnail. This is why I inserted the images directly into the text.
Here’s a panoramic image of Story Bridge. Photoshop Elements is your friend.
Then I tried the same thing vertically with a skyscraper. 111 Eagle St; they’ve just completed the full height. I was disappointed to learn the height is not 111 stories. A missed opportunity, I feel. That would have been so neat!
I liked the church peeking through between two tall towers.
Church with sky scrapers
While I was in the photography mood I did today’s Daily Shoot as well:
And here’s the fun bit: Some city buildings formed pleasing shapes, just begging to be post-processed into Art with a capital A. This is what Aperture is for!
Today we planned a pleasant afternoon out in the city, given that the weather looked like rain might be on the way sometime soon. A civilised ferry ride to South Bank, maybe a restrained beer or two in several establishments, home. That was the plan. So how did we end up on top of Brisbane’s major tourist attraction?
Ambling aimlessly through South Bank after our ferry ride we found our favourite ice cream shop: Mövenpick. An obligatory ice-cream made the sun come out. Then we ran into a “lifestyle market”. This is the sort of thing I love looking through, without actually buying anything. It was coincidentally right next to a pub, so a beer suggested itself. The weather improved further, including a rainbow, situated right next to the Brisbane Wheel. A thought occurred to Someone Who Shall Remain Nameless: “Want to go up?”
“Erm,” I say. But, the weather is, for the moment, nice. There is no queue. What the hell. We fork over some beer tokens that amazingly are also accepted for non-beer purchases. The amount is clearly aimed at fleecing the tourist market segment. We got a gondola to ourselves, and up we go. The views were awesome over three or four revolutions of the wheel (or, 15 minutes) and we had an excellent time!
On the way back the heavens opened and we watched the expected major squall come in, sitting safely and dry in the Bavarian Beer Cafe. And a nice afternoon was had by all.
Today was a cool-ish morning by Brisbane standards. “Showers” had been forecast, but they get forecast (and happen) pretty much every day. The low temperature had an advantage: it’s much nicer to cycle in 21C than in 35C, and a little rain has never done anyone any harm. I thought. So I took my bike and set off for an exploration of the cycle path beyond South Bank.
After just 2km, one of the promised showers. To avoid getting soaked quite so early on in my ride I decided to hide in a convenient shelter. It must be noted that a considerable number of other cyclists and runners went past me during this time. Either they had somewhere they needed to be in a hurry, or I’m simply too wussy for this climate.
The rain stopped after a few minutes, and I continued on, undaunted. For those of us who never go anywhere without a camera, the rain had provided some lovely scope for photographs with reflections.
I deliberately pushed on beyond South Bank this time because, frankly, South Bank is only just over 4km away and I wanted a longer ride and to go somewhere I hadn’t been to before. From time to time one discovers a surprise, such as this mural under a bridge.
With reconstruction work after the floods continuing all along the river bank, well beyond South Bank itself, parts of the cycle path were temporarily closed, and signage usually referred to the “normal”, pre-flood state of affairs. At one point I found a “no cycle access” sign across the path, coupled with another one saying “detour” and pointing somewhere randomly across a bridge I didn’t want to go across. Ah, Australian signage… roads, cycleways… it must be said that a lot of the time they are useful only if you already know where you’re going.
I turned back when the cycle path seemed to end. Approaching South Bank again from the west, the Brisbane Wheel stood out moodily against darkening skies.
On the way back I paused to take a photograph of the Nepalese Pagoda, which I had somehow missed last time I rode along South Bank. The pagoda itself is currently closed for flood repairs but it is still a beautiful building.
And to round off this post, a picture of a new palm leaf in the making.
After a hot, humid weekend, another gorgeous-looking and sunny morning greeted us after an uncomfortably sultry night. Then I read the weather forecast: Severe storms with torrential rain and even hail expected for Brisbane “between 3 and 5pm”. Generally, the weather forecast here is awesome. So, when they issue a severe weather warning, with a time attached, it is very likely that this will happen, no matter how sunny the morning. Sure enough, and right on time, at around 3pm the sunshine became hazy before disappearing altogether.
The clouds got darker and darker.
Then, a howling gale with rain, thunder and lightning. The works. Sadly I did not manage to get a lightning strike on a photo.
The balcony is three meters in depth and fully-covered. And I had cleaned the deck earlier today. I needn’t have bothered. The rain got very nearly all the way to the door.
At least I have not seen any of the hail that was forecast.
Today we had a very, very early start: We got up at 0645 (on a Saturday!) in order to have a look at Brisbane Market. This is held in Rocklea, a suburb that was under three meters of water in the flood. The market is one of Brisbane’s major food supply sources (apparently the restaurant trade buys there), and only managed to reopen a couple of weeks ago. Hoping to find a market similar to Victoria Market in Melbourne, we made the effort to get up early.
Overall it was a bit of a disappointment; there was a wide selection of fruit and vegetables but little meat, and, being held outside, was hot and sticky even under the canvas covers, and even at 7:25am. A learning point: Even at 7am, sunblock up and take a hat!
But, this made the trip worthwhile:
Ever since I saw a chilli tree at the Victoria Market in Melbourne I’d desperately wanted to give one to The Chilli Fiend. I couldn’t do that then, owing to our imminent return to the UK, but I remember thinking ‘I want my life to be settled enough that I can buy stuff like that’. So, even though it’s at the end of the season and the chillies are looking a little sad, we invested $2 in buying this chilli tree, as a symbol.
Having returned home (via two supermarkets due to the erratic food supply) we jumped into the pool (it was still only 9am) to wake up properly, then decided to go exploring. We got into our huge truck and drove to Manly (that’s Manly in QLD, not NSW), on the coast. We fell in love with it instantly; it’s a beautiful place. Ironically we fell right into Manly Market. It looked lovely, especially since we didn’t need to actually buy anything. We watched the sailing for a while, then drove along the tourist trail a bit further south. Here are more pictures of a lovely day.
In the background, the white sandbanks of Moreton Island
At low tide one can walk along the sandbank to the island.
Public art: Stingray shapes on the pavement.
Last time we saw Norfolk Pines was in Manly in NSW.
The map marks ‘go slow’ areas for turtles and dugongs. They have wild dugongs…?
It’s hard to tell the scale but this fly was absolutely enormous.
Brisbane has a Farmer’s Market every Wednesday. In-between what they call “occasional showers” over here (which I’d call “major downpours”) I took a ferry across to the CBD to have a look. On the way I very nearly didn’t make the ferry: I found a beautiful heron on the river bank, and thus had to stop to take some shots.
I did actually make the ferry with seconds to spare. Not that it would have mattered if I had missed it — unlike the bus, ferries go every 10 minutes; it’s awesome.
The market sells mostly fruit and vegetables, most of it local and all of excellent quality. Here are the goodies I came back with. Doesn’t this look healthy?
One of the joys of living in Brisbane is the cycle path all along the river. Well, it used to go all along — sections of it are still closed in the aftermath of last month’s flood. Today I went for a little ride, the 5km section between Kangaroo Point and South Bank, taking my camera with me. Pleasing views and public art are all along the route. Here is a selection.