The Great Escape – 2008 travel blog


Back on the mainland, and few hours kip and a three hour drive later, we arrived at Australia Zoo - home of the late Steve Irwin. It's now a cross between an animal sanctuary, an educational mission and a shrine to the late Crocodile Hunter. We spent a wonderful day marvelling at the alligators, crocs, koalas, turtles, giant tortoises, snakes, elephants, tigers, kangaroos, wallies, cassowaries and wild baby lizards... Back on the road, we went in search of a campsite for the night, passing the Glass House Mountains on the way - 13 ethereally shaped volcanic crags, up to 300m high, with sheer rocky sides, emerging from the coastal plain. We eventually found a rather hill-billy type site, 20kn or so from Brisbane, and settled in for the night. The following morning a set off for the short drive into Brisbane - and promptly spent another hour driving round the one way system trying to find somewhere to park! Brisbane is the third largest city in Australia, and is fast becoming one of the most desirable places to live - and it was easy to see why. With a prosperous, cosmopolitan atmosphere, a great street-cafe scene, beautiful river-side parks and a fantastic climate, it's pretty OK for a city! Van parked, we headed to Brisbane City Hall. A historic sandstone edifice overlooking the sculptures and fountains (and construction works!) of King George Square, it is surrounded by modern sky scrapers - however the observation platform in the bell tower (reached via a very quaint lift operated by a friendly Croatian lady) still provides one of the best views of the city. The ground floor hosts the Museum of Brisbane - a strange place devoted to the past and future of an annual expo. Across the river on the South Bank - a fabulous outdoor facility incorporating gardens, cafes and an amazing artificial swimming beach designed to resemble a tropical lagoon - we paddled in the cool waters whilst comparing Brisbane and London. They are very similar in many ways - historic buildings, great shopping, fantastic cafes and restaurants... We camped for the night at a lovely place called Jacobs Well, about 40 minutes south of Brisbane. Set right by the lake, the site was clean and peaceful - with a shop opposite that sold us a great bottle of $5 sparkling wine! We even got some laundry done - clean clothes are a real treat!

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