November 29 - December 2, 2006
Brisbane began as a penal colony for some of Botany Bay's particularly difficult prisoners. That colony was established on Moreton Bay in 1824. However, they experienced problems with water shortages and hostile Aborigines, so they relocated to the banks of the Brisbane River where it remained until abandoned in 1839. The colony site on the Brisbane River is where the city center of today's Brisbane is located.
After abandoning the penal colonies, Moreton Bay was opened to settlement in 1842, and the population grew rapidly. By 1859, when Queensland separated from New South Wales, Brisbane's population was over 6,000. Today, Brisbane is Australia's third-largest city with a population of 1.5 million.
We began our exploration of Brisbane on the northern end of Moreton Bay. We visited one marina there, but it was not what we were looking for. The day was fading, so we looked for a hotel for the night. We thought it would be an easy find in a city the size of Brisbane, but we were in a relatively rural area, and there were no hotels to be found. We finally found a rather dumpy little motel, but we needed a place to stay, so we rented a room. When Nita went in to the room, the odor was terrible. She returned to the desk and asked for a refund. Now where? A clerk in a convenience store told us that there was only one other motel in the area, so we went there. Although it didn't smell bad, it was so dumpy that we couldn't stop laughing at our predicament. We had a lousy dinner at the local diner and watched a spectacular thunderstorm develop. It started with a few large bats flying about. Soon the sky turned purple and was filled with hundreds of bats. Then it poured rain. It was eerie but very pretty.
Our second day in town took us to two more marinas further south in Moreton Bay. We enjoyed seeing this part of town, but neither of these marinas were what we were looking for. So, over lunch, we decided that we would likely not move down to Brisbane, but we would enjoy our visit while there.
We did have hotel reservations for that night at a small hotel on the edge of Brisbane's business district. The central business district is compact - covering only about one square mile - but it is a lively and vibrant city center. We walked around historical buildings and were awed by the numerous beautiful old churches scattered throughout the city. We shopped and ate on the Queen Street Mall which runs through the center of the city. The mall includes a vast collection of stores and businesses. There are also many restaurants and lots of entertainment.
We spent the following morning walking around the botanical gardens which are beautifully kept acres on the edge of the city center along the river front. We spent that afternoon at the Queensland Maritime Museum then ate at a noisy little restaurant at the edge of a university campus.
But we were ready to head back north. However, on our way home. we planned a day at the Australia Zoo. We try not to drive at night because of the roos, so we planned to spend our last night in Caloundra then drive home the following day.
Brisbane is a beautiful city, and we had lots of fun visiting it, but we will not be moving Passage there for the season. Maybe we can visit it again?