We began our trip in Brisbane, which is about an hour’s flight north of Sydney on the east coast of Australia and is the gateway to tropical Queensland. Although not far from Sydney, Brisbane is often a few degrees warmer and more humid. Brisbane is the capital of the state of Queensland and the third largest city in Australia with a whopping two million people. I hate it. It seems to be rather too crowded for a city of its size. However, it was Angela’s favourite city in Australia. This is only because she hasn’t been to Perth.
Like most travellers, we realised just hours after leaving home how many things we had forgotten. Angela needed some flip-flops, or thongs as they are called here (which I still find difficult to say in public). We popped into a surf shop on the main outdoor shopping district, and Angela began her quest for the perfect plastic shoe. Dylan, impatient after a few minutes but not abandoning ship as Eric had already, came up to Angela with a brown pair he had found, slapped them down, exclaimed, “Problem solved!,” turned on his heel, and left. Upon inspection, these were actually the ugliest flip-flops in the store and not even Angela’s size. But the catchphrase of our month-long adventure had been born! Problem solved!
On my visit to Brisbane for work about a month earlier, which was over a weekend, I had taken a cruise up the river to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, opened in 1927. The Mirimar, launched in 1934, was originally the only way to get to the sanctuary, and it has made daily trips there since, with occasional breaks to assist with world wars and such. I had learned when I took the boat the first time that she was soon to be retired, and one of the two nights we were in Brisbane was to be one of her final river cruises. The first night of our vacation, we sat on the back deck of the boat downing bottles of red wine and watching the sunset as old-timers reminisced about their times on the boat around us – an auspicious beginning for our trip.
We stayed at the Kookaburra Inn, a lovely hostel with lots of outdoor patio furniture where we could gather to consume more wine, play cards, etc. The next day we went to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, where we learned that girls like koalas (cute) and boys like raptors (deadly). At least there was something there for everyone!
That night, I tried to find my way back to The Valley, where my colleague had taken me on my previous visit for my birthday dinner. Instead, I managed to drag us into the sex district, which was interesting but considerably less appetising. Clearly, it was time to leave Brisbane.