Much LAZIER than your average blogger  
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4.26.2008 - 26 comments 

I took this shot while we were touring the city. It shows what a real metropolitan area Brisbane is. It also shows the river that the city is named after. As you can see from my photo, the city was very metropolitan, but yet not as large as Sydney. There was also a bridge (the Story Bridge) there, that was designed by the same man who designed the world Famous Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Brisbane is actually the capital and most populous city of the Australian state of Queensland, and it is the third largest city in Australia. It has a population of just fewer than 2.0 million and an urban agglomeration of over 2.4 million people. It is a city set close to the Pacific Ocean, and is situated beside the Brisbane River on plains between Moreton Bay and the Great Dividing Range in south-eastern Queensland. (Ask me about Moreton Bay bugs sometime!) They aren't really bugs at all, but rather they are small little lobsters. The flesh of the Moreton Bay bug is reported to be unusually versatile, and can be cooked in a variety of ways, both sweet and savory.

The city of Brisbane was named in honor of Sir Thomas Brisbane; the city grew from a harsh penal colony established in 1824 at Redcliffe, 40 km to the north. The colony was moved to Brisbane in 1825 and free settlers were permitted from 1842. It was chosen as the capital of Queensland when it was proclaimed a separate colony in 1859. The city developed slowly until after World War II, when it played a central role in the Allied campaign as the South West Pacific headquarters for General Douglas MacArthur.

When people visit Brisbane, there are the "must-see" places? Where are these places that give tourists a memorable view, an insight into the city, the history and the people of Brisbane. If time is your enemy when visiting Brisbane, try one or two or more of these top picks. Perhaps next time you’re here, you can explore the many other delights the city has to offer on a day trip around the Brisbane regions. One of the guided tour bus tours we decided to take included the Green Mountains and the rain forests there. It also included the Tamborine Mountain area.

Tamborine Mountain is certainly not a typical suburban community. The local population numbers about 6,000 people. The peace and beauty of this area has attracted many talented artisans and crafts. Keen gardeners consider it a perfect retirement spot where they can indulge their green thumbs to their heart's content and develop gardens straight out of Eden. Young families choose to live here because they consider it an ideal place to rear children away from the temptations of suburban life.

Mrs. LZ and I had a very nice morning tea at a small little restaurant here as part of our tour. It was a very nice open air dining area that we chose to eat in. As you can see from the photo, Mrs. LZ was enjoying herself while we were there. The photo of me outside of the place looks as though I was expecting to pay the bill for everyone on the tour bus.

Many professional and academic people also call Tamborine Mountain their home. They consider the daily trip to work is more than compensated for by the delights of coming home to the relaxed lifestyle and fresh clean air this Mountain plateau offers. Farming is still a way of life. Where once this fertile area produced commercial citrus fruits, vegetables and milk, it now produces mainly avocados, kiwifruit and rhubarb. It is also an excellent producer of cut flowers, many exported directly to overseas markets.

This small plateau is rich in animal and bird life. Bird feeding is a local hobby enjoyed by many residents. The most friendly and colorful birds are the parrots, especially the aptly named Rainbow Lorikeets. The beautiful red and green King Parrots, the pastel blue and yellow Pale Headed Rosellas and the red and purple Eastern Rosellas are all to be seen in most Mountain gardens. The music of the Mountain is provided by a less gaudy band of feathered creatures. Magpies, Butcher Birds and the shy Whip Bird harmonize from daybreak until sundown.

The Mountain is home to the first National Park declared in Queensland and now has a number of separate parks on the plateau and the shelves surrounding it. Six of these sections have walking paths in them of varying lengths and degree of difficulty. If you can find the time to walk through some of our National Parks you will hear many other bird songs and see an amazing range of Australia's bird life. The Brush Turkey inhabits the rainforest in this area and home gardens. The hen Turkey is the perfect female liberationist. The male builds huge mounds of leaf mulch then she lays her eggs in the mound and walks away leaving him to manage the entire incubation process.

Notice the cool bridges high in the air going from trees to other trees? I thought that they were very cool and something that you just don’t see much of in the states (at least that I am aware of). Also if you wonder what Mrs. LZ is looking at inside that tree, it is a tree that has actually been taken over by what they call a strangler vine, which basically "takes over" the tree from both the outside and the inside. It only keeps the tree alive for its own nourishment.

In fact the next shot after Mrs. LZ's picture looking up the inside of the tree, is actually the same thing that she saw looking up there. The bright areas in the center of the picture, are actually the top part of the tree (with the sun showing through) that the stangler vine has taken over from both the outside and the inside. Is that wierd or what?

I have put together this little "LZ's list" of major things not to be missed while you are there:

Mt Coot-tha Lookout ~ Even if you only have an hour or so to spare, you can take the drive up to the top of Mt Coot-tha to get a view of the whole of Brisbane city. You’ll see the curves of the river, the lines of the freeway, and the skyline of the CBD. Plus, on a clear day you can see south-west to the distant ranges, east towards Moreton Bay and miles in every other direction. Enjoy the facilities of a cafe, restaurant and lookout at the top.

South Bank ~ Where did people gather in Brisbane before South Bank was created? It’s hard to imagine the city without this destination. Every visitor to Brisbane will enjoy South Bank’s sandy beach, the open grassy picnic spots, the shops and dozens of eating places. There are the cinemas, regular free live entertainment and many festivals and fireworks throughout the year.

The Cultural Centre ~ From here you can enjoy Queensland’s arts and theatre at the Cultural Centre, South Bank. Spend time at the Queensland Art Gallery, Sciencentre (especially popular kids), State Library of Queensland and brand new Gallery of Modern Art . Get tickets to see a play, opera, ballet or dozens of other performances at the Cultural Centre.

Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary ~ Visitors from overseas will just love the abundant and easily seen Australian wildlife at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. You can hold a koala, feed a kangaroo, (or as Mrs. LZ did) pet a wallaby, hear a talk about our reptiles – it all makes for a great day out.

A trip on the river ~ Even the locals love to get out on the Brisbane River and it’s so easy and cheap to do with a journey on the CityCat. One of these shots I took looks out over the bow of one of theses as we were crusing the Brisbane River. For just a few dollars, you can take a cruise up and down the river, stopping where ever you like along the way – South Bank, University of Queensland, New Farm...The City Cats glide over the water and we saw million dollar houses. We travelled under the Story Bridge (that I mentioned above and have included a shot of here) and get a whole new perspective. The ferry guide gives you a lot of information about the city as you cruise along.

This boat trip up the river was actually very fun and helps you really see the city from many different perspectives. We stopped along the river and enjoyed a lunch with a couple who were vacationing here from New Zealand. It was very nice and at our tour guide's urging, I enjoyed their famous local beers "XXXX Gold" as it was called. Then we cruised back to where we had stated the boat ride. Brisbane is a very nice city and well worth the visit if you get up to Southern Queensland.

A woman uses her intelligence to find reasons to support her intuition. ~ Gilbert K. Chesterton

4.18.2008 - 29 comments 

Leaving New South Wales from Sydney and moving up the coast we flew from the Sydney Airport up to the Coolangatta Airport. Coolangatta is the closest airport to Surfers Paradise and is in the state of Queensland. We made this trip up here via Qantas own budget airline “Jet Star.com” Airlines, which was more like flying “Southwest” (or “TED” in the states), than it was like really flying directly with Qantas. We were however thrilled to see a Krispy Kreme Donut Café in the Sydney Airport, right next to our Jet Star gate. This was like a touch of home to both of us and something that seemed familiar from our home in the Midwest USA.

I am sure that almost all of you have heard of Qantas, but there may be a few things that you didn’t know about it. For example, did you know it is the national airline of Australia? And, did you know the name was originally "QANTAS", an acronym for "Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services". I only make that point, because Coolangatta was our first visit to the State of Queensland. As we were flying up there, we flew over areas that reminded me a lot of the Southern California costal areas before all of the excessive development from about the1960’s and on until even today.

Qantas is also nicknamed "The Flying Kangaroo”, the airline is based in Sydney, with its main hub at Kingsford Smith International Airport, and is Australia's largest airline. Qantas is the world's third oldest airline, the oldest in fact in the English speaking world, and the oldest airline operating under its own, and same, name.

In 2007, Qantas was voted the fifth best airline in the world by research consultancy Skytrax, a drop from the second position it held in both 2005 and 2006. I couple of other interesting facts were supplied to me by one of my blogging buddies (Peter Holtie), who also told me that Qantas is the only word that starts with a “Q”, (but is not) followed by a “U” in the English language. An additional point that Peter made was that it is the ONLY airline flying with a perfect safety record. I will say, that their service was exceptional, professional and fantastic to boot, but the safety part would have been the BEST!

Once we landed in Coolangatta, we had to find a way to get to the Marriott Resort in Surfers Paradise. Both Coolangatta and Surfers Paradise are in an area of Queensland that is called the “Gold Coast”. We found that we could either take a cab there or more reasonably priced there were buses that actually dropped you off at the hotels along the strip in Surfers Paradise and other areas along the Gold Coast. Gold Coast Tourist Shuttle operates door to door airport transfers, one way and return, 7 days a week from the Gold Coast Airport, also known as Coolangatta Airport. We felt lucky that our hotel was one of those with a stop, and even luckier, it was cheaper than a cab or limo.

After arriving at the Marriott Resort in Surfers Paradise, we checked into our room and then decided to check with the concierge to see what was available to do for our week while we were there. To our surprise, there was much more to do there than we had ever expected to do, let alone to have to try and do it all in a week. So we started planning out the week and set up reservations for some of the things we knew that we really wanted to do while we were in Surfers Paradise. Our room was on about the 21st floor, so we had a very nice view of both the ocean, but also of the nicely appointed grounds and pool of the resort.

The most shocking thing about this Gold Coast area was the huge number of hotels and condominiums in the area. I was expecting something, more like Newport Beach than Miami Beach or Honolulu. As you can see from the photos I took there, the beaches were pristine and not full of people at all. It was an everyday ritual for me to get up and go down to the beach before sunrise and try and get some good shots of the beach. As I looked south down the beach all I could see was beach as far as I could see. All I could think of was what prime land that would be back in the states. Of course with a name like Gold Coast, it is more than likely prime land there in Australia too!

The Marriott there in Surfers Paradise also had some very unique and impressive amenities to it as well. One of the things that were really cool and a bit unusual was the fact that it had its own lagoon (with a real sand beach) in it. It also had a bar that you had to either swim to, underneath the falls, or take a group of tunnels to get back into. This was a little dark, especially if you just came out of the sun and walked into, but either way, it was very unique and nice to see.

The other things about the Gold Coast area that were unique, was that it was made up of a lot of neat little beach towns that all seemed to be connected to each other. And at times, it was difficult which of the towns you were actually in. In addition to Coolangatta and Surfers Paradise the cities had names like; Coolangatta, Currumbin, Bilinga, Tugun, Main Beach, Burleigh Heads, Southport, and the Gold Coast Hinterland are all in this area.

Coolangatta is situated at the southern end of the Gold Coast and it is home to some of the area's prettiest beaches. Located at the mouth of the Tweed River, just a 30 minute drive from Murwillumbah and Lamington National Parks. Currumbin, Tugun and Bilinga which are also situated at the southern end of the Gold Coast.

Main Beach is at the northern end of one of the Gold Coast's most popular walks. The historic Main Beach bathing pavilion is worth a stop offering timely refreshments. There are also several dive sites in the area including the wreck of the Scottish Princes.

Burleigh Heads is nestled beneath the beautiful Burleigh Headland National Park. The beach is protected and offers fantastic views north to Surfers Paradise. Burleigh's tubular surf is famous around the world and its host to international surfing contests. Echo Beach, just south of the headland is a great place for a picnic.

Broadbeach has fantastic parkland adjoining it that has playground equipment and great picnic facilities. The Kurrawa Surf Life Saving Club is located at Broadbeach and it hosts the annual Australian Surf Lifesaving Titles. The streets are lined with trendy al-fresco cafes and other eateries. There are some good craft markets on the first and third Sunday of every month.

Surfers Paradise is a popular spot for families with its perfect swimming beach. There are nearby cafes and shopping areas including the Paradise Centre which is situated on Cavill Avenue, the main shopping street. There are excellent night markets on every Friday night. We did this, but I actually don’t think we bought any thing there, but there were many local artists, displaying their handy work there.

This area around here was also called the Cavill Mall area. This was where we found many nice restaurants and in spite of that, ended up eating at a Hard Rock Cafe, which also had a familiar feel to it from the states. Trying to live "outside the box" just a little while ordering, I ordered an Aussie Burger, while Mrs. LZ did the healthy eating thing and ordered a salad.

Southport is recognized as the Gold Coast's Central Business District. Southport also has a selection of shopping malls, boutiques, cafes and restaurants and is sheltered by the Broadwater Spit overlooking the Broadwater and South Stradbroke Island. Both Mrs. LZ and I managed to find a few things here that we just had to have.

The Gold Coast Hinterland is a sub-tropical paradise that makes the area one of the most biologically diverse regions in Australia. There are a number of National Parks within the hinterland's densely forested McPherson Range making it a paradise for walkers. If you look closely at the picture where our flight took off from Sydney flying North, you will see the Harbour Bridge, the Opera House and eve the ferries going in and out of Circular Quay. I apologize for the reflection from the plane window, but I was so excited by the view of the whole Sydney area, I didn't even notice it, until after we landed in Coolangatta.

We were here in this Gold Coast area for a week and managed to eat and shop in almost all of these areas. Even though this area is very popular destination with not only the Aussies themselves, it is also a popular tourist destination for people from New Zealand, Japan and Asia as well. Even though these areas are popular and full of people, it doesn’t take you very long to get away from the city and the tourists and get to the hinterlands if that is your purpose. Many of you may have already figured out that Surfers Paradise is where I took the picture that has been on my blog site template for quite some time now? One of my very favorite shots, not only beacuse of its natural beauty, but more so because of the memories that go with it.

“It is true, I never assisted the sun materially in his rising; but, doubt not, it was of the last importance only to be present at it.” ~ Henry David Thoreau

4.11.2008 - 24 comments 

Circular Quay is really the hub of Sydney Harbour. It's situated at a small inlet called Sydney Cove, (which was) the founding site for Sydney and Australia. It is a stepping-off point for most attractions based around the harbour and an exciting place to be on a warm summer's day. The quay (pronounced key) is a vibrant, bustling place with ferries leaving every few minutes to different parts of the harbour, including Manly, Watson .y, Mosman and Taronga Park Zoo. This is also where we caught the ferry to several other places. There are great views of the Harbour Bridge, in every direction and all are just a short distance away.

You can see that most of my shots here are either from or of this particular area of the Harbour. We also walked over the famous Sydney Harbour Bridge on foot over to North Sydney from this area. This also gave us some great shots of the Opera House from above.

On the southern side of Circular Quay is a walkway that leads to the Sydney Opera House and then around to the Royal Botanical Gardens; (from my last post). While on the Northern side, a short walk along a lovely landscaped walkway takes you to the Harbour Bridge and "The Rocks", one of the oldest, most attractive and most interesting parts of Sydney. This is also where Mrs. LZ and I enjoyed not only walking and shopping, but also a couple of really nice meals were eaten by us here in "The Rocks" area.

Circular Quay is also at the foot of the central business district and the older, historic end of the city. Buses depart here for Bondi Beach and the eastern suburbs. This was also the place that we walked to each morning to have breakfast almost all of our mornings while in Sydney at a place called City Extra. It was kind of neat, because their menus were much like a newspaper, which I am sure, was intentional. You’ll see a shot of Mrs. LZ having breakfast here. You’ll also be able to notice the Harbour Bridge in the background of the picture. We enjoyed our morning walks down here to the City Extra and because this place stays open 24 hours, it's convenient if you get the munchies at a ridiculous hour. It's also nicely placed, right next to the Manly ferry terminal. The plastic chairs and outdoor tables make it a pleasant spot to while away an inexpensive meal. A range of pastas were available on the menu, as well as salads, pies, steaks, ribs, fish, and Asian-influenced dishes. There's also a very good selection of desserts. The food is much nicer and a better value than next door at Rossini.

Of interest to a large number of Sydney visitors — particularly those who grew up on Mark Twain, Robert Louis Stevenson and other well-known writers — are the metal plaques embedded in the Circular Quay walkway from near the Overseas Passenger Terminal down to the jetties and up to the forecourt of the Sydney Opera House.

This is the Sydney Writers Walk and the plaques contain interesting and pertinent passages from the works of Australian and international writers honored there. Actually the writers — with their metal plaques embedded along the walkway around Sydney's Circular Quay — are being honored, and their lives and works celebrated, on the Sydney Writers Walk. You will find these plaques from around the International Passenger Terminal on West Circular Quay, down to the walkway between the ferry jetties and the train station, and all the way to the side of the Sydney Opera House forecourt on East Circular Quay.

The writers represented on Writers Walk include not only Australians but also those who lived in, or visited, Australia, such as D H Lawrence, Rudyard Kipling and Mark Twain. The plaques, themselves actually, provided interesting, informative reading in capsule form, especially… if you are not familiar with the writer.

There is a major railway station at the quay, which is part of the underground City Circle, which skirts around the CBD. Alongside the ferry terminals are a number of small outdoor cafes (I'll throw in a picture of one with this post) and the area is a magnet for buskers and hustlers of every description. Notice the two Aboriginese guys getting ready for their show here in the Harbour at Circular Quay?

The top picture on this post shows our hotel (Marriott) which was our home for the week we were staying in Sydney. It is directly to the right of the larger skyscraper as you look at that top picture post. While we spent a complete week in this area of Sydney, it seemed as though we never really ran out of interesting things to see and do here. I would recommend it to anyone traveling down-under.

“But friendship is precious, not only in the shade, but in the sunshine of life, and thanks to a benevolent arrangement the greater part of life is sunshine.” ~ Thomas Jefferson