Gardens and Churches
Today we’ve decided to drive out to Brisbane Botanic gardens on Mt Coot-tha as it is quite high up and the views of Brisbane and the coast should be brilliant. During the drive we climb steadily towards the highest point in Brisbane.
Pulling off the road we park up and walk to the information centre to collect a map of the gardens. We speak to one of the guides who advises us because of the very high temperature to drive around the gardens, parking up at identified points to see particular gardens of interest.
Our first pull off is closed as the rangers are carrying out some work. We manage to park nearby and make our way down towards the lake. The water is very low due to the drought conditions, nevertheless the birds are managing to make the most of what is available.
The kitchen garden has a large range of fruit, vegetables and herbs. A giant pumpkin is at the entrance and tall sunflowers have turned their heads towards the sun. There is an outside kitchen where cooking classes using the ingredients grown in the garden are held – not today unfortunately.
Walking around the water gardens we come across Australian water dragon basking on rocks in the sun and then hear them rustling through the undergrowth, they are everywhere. ‘Look’ I say, ‘there’s a massive bee’ it’s the biggest bee I’ve ever seen. However, Mark and Marcus don’t believe me but we then see information about these giant bees on a board.
We make our way towards the tropical dome and fern garden where there are giant ferns which tower above us and other tropical plants. There is a lily pond in the centre of the dome which can be seen from below through glass and it is very humid.
We also visit the Japanese garden, arid zone and rainforest before driving to the Australian native plants zone. The lake here is all but dry and the heat is becoming unbearable, now the temperature has hit 40C. We stop at the view point in the gardens which overlooks Brisbane city below. We walk through bougainvillea gardens to the point and are rewarded with quite a view.
Leaving the Botanic Gardens, we climb the steep road up to the lookout at the top of Mt Coot-tha, which is 287m high. Are we glad we are in the car as the road is very steep and the temperature has now got to 43C. If we thought the view from the gardens was good, we were stunned by this view of the city skyline and greater Brisbane. We can see the skyscrapers, the suburbs, Brisbane River, the coast line and some of the Moreton Bay Islands.
Once we’ve taken the obligatory photos and been entertained by the Asian tourists who take photos but don’t always seem interested in the view, Marcus buys ice creams and we sit taking in the view and enjoying the shade under the parasols in the café. Driving back, we take a detour through the bush reserve and pass the TV studios which are taking advantage of the highest point in Brisbane.
After lunch we take in the local churches on Ann street. The largest of these is St. John’s Cathedral built in the 19th century Gothic Revival style. It is closed but someone hears Mark trying the door and lets us in even though they are preparing for a wedding the next morning. The interior is lovely with tall columns and arches and stained-glass windows.
Walking through Anzac square we pass the Shrine of Remembrance which honours those who have served in conflicts around the world and walk down the steps towards Adelaide Street. Here the bars are full of works parties on their Christmas outings. Many are dressed in Christmas shirts and other types of festive garb. We have a drink and watch the festive celebrations which are going on all around us.
The square by The Treasury (casino) has some sort of demonstration happening so we cross over to have a look. It is animal activists who have white masks and black slogan t-shirts on who are stood in a circle looking out in silence. Others a giving out information and engaging passers-by in conversation.
We have drinks in a bar opening up onto the square before making our way back home.