18/4/16. We left Sydney on Saturday evening and headed north staying in sight of land pretty much all the way (at least whenever we looked) until docking in Brisbane at about 6 o’clock on Monday morning. As you may or may not know (we didn’t) the city is on a river (with the unoriginal name of the Brisbane River!) so the ship cannot get too close – a fleet of shuttle buses was arranged to take those not going on organised tours on the 45 minute (in the rush hour, 20 minutes otherwise) journey into the centre.

Initial impressions were not particularly favourable with lots of skyscrapers and motorways seemingly running through the centre, although our opinions improved later. The highlight of the journey was going past the cricket ground (the Gabba). We were surprised to read that the population is around 2.2 million which makes it a similar size to Birmingham.

As we were now in the subtropics, we headed for the botanic gardens to see some different plants. However, the first part we saw was very English with large lawns and tall trees, although the trees were not those seen at home. As we discovered from the tour that we joined a significant proportion were fig trees of various types. As we went along the path by the river the scenery suddenly changed and we were in a rain forest – almost literally with the irrigation system in full operation giving us all a not unwelcome cooling sprinkling!

Crossing the river we entered the Brisbane equivalent of Paris Plage in the Southbank area with cafes, restaurants, shaded walkways, paddling pools and sandy “beaches” which were clearly very popular.

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