Brisbane is located on both sides of the Brisbane River and five impressive bridges allow the residents to live and work on both sides conveniently. It has 1.6 million people, serves as the state capital of Queensland, and looks like a nice place to live, but not a mecca for international tourism. Because our sister cruise ship is unloading and loading passengers in the cruise port here today, we are docked in the commercial port area 25 kilometers upriver overlooking miles of car lots. Brisbane is the beginning of what as known as the Gold Coast, an area that feels like Florida both in terms of climate and tourist activities. We could have gone to a Warner Bros. theme park here, but suspect that we have seen better at home. So we chose a shore excursion that took advantage of what makes this area special for someone from the frozen north.
We boarded a coach for a too long bus ride up the Gold Coast. We saw a few small theme and water parks, but the rest of the ride was unremarkable and there was no guide to provide interesting narration. We began to see high rise condo and hotel complexes as we neared Surfer’s Paradise, a mecca for the local tourists. We boarded a motorized craft for a quick trip up the inland waterway. Most of the inland side was developed with expensive homes, but some of the outer bank island was national park and lined with mangroves. Occasional breaks in the trees provided spots for local boaters to pull up and take a swim or set up a tent.
Our final destination was an enclave in the greenness where a BBQ lunch was provided. A group of kangaroos were also having lunch there and kept a close eye on the monitor lizards who kept patrolling the area flicking their long tongues in and out. Although they did not harm, they made the kangaroos as nervous as they did us, and they bounded out of the way whenever the lizards grew close. One of the roos had a joey hanging out of her pouch and it was fun to see how little impact his presence there had on her bounding ability. Water toys were nearby to be rented, but by the time lunch was finished there was little time. It was hot and humid and I would have loved to go for a swim, but the water was murky and muddy. Sea grass grew close to shore and I returned to the ship disappointed and dry.
The captain announced that a nearby cyclone (what hurricanes are called here) would interfere with our next planned port. We will have to skip what for many was to be the swim in the Great Barrier Reef and the disappointment was palpable. We scuba dove on the reef last time we were here and quite frankly the fish and coral looked pretty much look the fish and coral we have seen in the Caribbean and Mexico. A diver more educated on what they are seeing would surely have recognized many differences, but we were so unimpressed we had signed up for a tour to a national park. Well, we won’t be going there and here’s hoping that the captain can plot a course that will keep the bobbing to a minimum. No one is going to do any snorkeling or diving in waters stirred up by a cyclone and safety is the primary consideration. Bummer!