Thursday, 30 April 2009


Rubbed out yesterday's whinge, after all it's supposed to be about having a good time, shite backpacker's places or not! The Brisbane Palace 'Base' is still a right dump though but was adequate for one night and comfy enough even if the mattress felt like it had been hewn from the nearest quarry, but I wouldn't like to stay here for more than a night or two. However, just downstairs is a bar where you can buy a decent breakfast, tea and coffee included, at a discount if you're staying at the 'Base'.

I found a new home for my rucksack, I donated it to a charity shop just around the corner from here which is miles better than just ditching it which would have been a criminal waste. I hate wasting stuff, especially with earth's resources fast running out. However, I am not sure my new bag is big enough although I will send some stuff, such as Australia field guide, some magazines I got, a spare towel (I now have two as I bought a larger one, the hand towel I brought from home was too small being a hand towel, really) etc, back to the UK before I leave Oz.

I also bought a more comfy pair of shoes as wearing walking boots all the time is not comfortable. A pair of plimsoll-type shoes, very soft, probably won't last five minutes, cost $21 in the general purpose store just round the corner from here.

As I was unable to check in until 2pm yesterday afternoon I did what only a birder can do - I went birding. I only went to the Botanic Gardens which is a 20 minute walk from here, down by the Brisbane River. I wasn't able to add much to the trip list, unfortunately, only Welcome Swallow (very like Barn Swallow, only without the black band across the chest), Laughing Kookaburra (sounds like a demented monkey), and Australian White Ibis (very common round here) being new additions. The previous afternoon/early evening, from the bus somewhere north of Newcastle NSW, I did see White-necked Heron and Cattle Egret.

I am on something like 55 or 58 lifers now. The trip list altogether is around 61 species which is a tad meagre but I am hoping to add much more to it up in Cairns and the north.

When we left Sydney on Wednesday(? Losing track of the days) we went over the famous Harbour Bridge - I didn't realise this actually carried a main road! - and got a good, if quick view of the Opera House. The Opera House did not look as pristine as it does on telly or on the tourist postcards, more a grubby rice-pudding off white.

I see on the news that the world is on the verge of a global flu pandemic, courtesy of what's being called 'swine flu', which is a delightful mixture, apparently, of pig, bird and human flu viruses. Lovely. Here in Australia there's a big flap going on with heat scanners at airports (presumably to catch those coming in with a high fever), but the disease is already spreading across the world - the UK has got it. There's talk, probably in the more sensationalist parts of the media about airports being shut down. Scary, but I hope this dies down before I leave Australia next month.
Still, nasty or not, and it undoubtedly is, it is somewhat reassuring to know that no matter what we humans do, Nature is still very much in charge.

Setting off for Cairns later this morning. Forgot to reconfirm bus again, but Greyhound Australia told me the other day it's only really necessary when you get on at a request stop rather than a main bus station. 29 hours on the road coming up, but with only one night and one and a half days of daylight travel it shouldn't be as bad as the trip up from Melbourne which took two nights and one day.

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