The weather during my exploration of New South Wales had been, to say the least, rather inclement. So I was very much hoping that the Queensland stage of my Round the World Trip would live up to its billing as the ‘Sunshine State’.
I must admit I knew very little about Queensland or its capital, Brisbane. But in three days travelling around the south-eastern tip of the state, I saw enough for me to decide to return in the near future for a much longer visit. And yes, the sun shone brightly most of the time.
I stayed at hotels in Brisbane and at Caloundra on the Sunshine Coast, about 60 miles north of Brisbane. The Pelican Waters Spa Hotel near Caloundra overlooked a golf course, with kangaroos grazing early morning on the fairways!
My Five Highlights of SE Queensland
• Travelling along the Brisbane River on the CityCat Ferry through the heart of Brisbane. From Bretts Wharf in the east, to The University of Queensland at St Lucia in the west, takes about 100 minutes and costs about £3. There are great views along the way and Brisbanites are happy to tell you about their city as you cruise along.
• Strolling around central Brisbane. Some parts feel almost as if you are walking through a narrow passageway beneath the massive buildings, but then suddenly you come across a fine old building or a green open space. Pause a while at the circular War Memorial in Anzac Square. The City Botanic Gardens provide an attractive oasis of tranquillity, teaming with birds and other wildlife such as the Australian water dragon.
• Relaxing on the attractive beach at Caloundra and enjoying the restaurants there, including an excellent Asian restaurant, the Sakon Thai.
• The Australia Zoo, set up by Steve Irwin but now run by his wife following his untimely death in 2006. There’s much to see and do in the Zoo (over 1,000 animals in 68 acres), but make certain you see the Sumatran tigers, the koalas, the kangaroos and, of course, the crocodiles. Pensioners get a 20% discount on entry charges; strictly speaking this is for Australians, but they were quite happy to give me, a UK pensioner, the concession rate.
• The Glass House Mountains. These dramatic volcanic plugs, sticking out starkly above the surrounding countryside, were named by Captain Cook in 1770. He thought they resembled glass furnaces in his native Yorkshire.
That completed the Australian part of my round the world trip. There was no problem dropping the hire car off at Brisbane airport after its 3,000 mile journey from Melbourne; then on to my next stop, Christchurch, and a tour of the South Island of New Zealand.