I had never been to Brisbane before. Until today. I arranged to have lunch with my cousin Joanne who made massive alterations to her plans to go from Melbourne to Lismore in order to meet up. I am so glad she did. We have an amazing lot in common and a lot to catch up.
The day started at the primitively quaint Landsborough Station. Because today was a surrogate holiday, the trains were on a Sunday timetable and there was no-one at the station. The first thing that struck me was the lack of an indicator board indicating when the next train was and where it was going. Absolutely nothing.
Next I noticed the total lack of anything resembling what a reasonable adult would call information. Oh, there were a lot of timetables – for buses, trains and more buses – but nothing to indicate which one was relevant. A simple sign (handwritten in blood would have done) on the shutter where the ticket office normally is would have done. It could have read “For Monday & Tuesday refer to the Sunday timetable”. They could have made this shorter by saying “For public holidays…” but there could be some tourists who have no idea when public holidays are when visiting a foreign country. It happens to us in Paris all the time.
I was fortunate that Trace had printed off the up-to-date timetable from the Internet (pointless waiting for Telstra to connect the Internet for mum & dad) so I knew exactly when the train was arriving and where it went. A lot of other people were not so fortunate. They were wandering around like lost souls, unsure of anything. I guess the train company doesn’t really care. Maybe the Queensland trains are run by Telstra…
Anyway, at least the train arrived dead on time and wasn’t packed. In fact, I have little bad to say about the train into Roma Street. Big seats, comfortable and lots of legroom. The carriage I was in (and Joanne said her’s as well) did smell a bit damp. Given the unimaginable amount of rain Queensland is presently receiving, I think this is pretty understandable and something I could put up with. I had a pleasant trip in.
Arriving at Roma Street I texted Jo to find out how far away she was. She had forgotten the time difference between the rest of Australia and the primeval north and, consequently arrived an hour before I did. She was on level 3. I took an escalator up, she took one down and we met in the middle.
We then hit Brisbane. Fortunately Joanne knew it a bit better (ie minimal) than I did (ie not at all) and so we headed up for the centre of town and wandered up the pedestrianized area looking for a pub. There isn’t any. It’s a bit sad when a country renowned for its drinking suddenly has no pubs. Still, there you go. Clearly they’re turning into a load of wowsers. Or just drinking at home.
We eventually found a nice spot called Milano’s where we could enjoy beer, food and indulge in a fine amount of people watching. And we chatted and chatted and chatted. We have a lot of years to fill in.
I found out an awful lot about Joanne. We are amazingly alike. For instance, we share a love of Caravaggio. (You have to take my word that it just came up in conversation.) It doesn’t happen very often and is quite thrilling when you accidentally find these sort of things out and then share your passion and love with a like mind.
We talked about everything under the clouds, but it was all too soon time for me to accompany her back to Roma Street in order for her to catch her coach to Lismore and her New Years party (she always tries to make it and it sounds like a great hoot).
We said our sad goodbyes, promising to keep in touch and I waved as I left. I then waved again when the coach crossed in front of me as I was wandering over the crossing outside the station. And blew kisses.
I decided to have a wander before going back to the rain-drenched north and visited a few shops, took a few photos, watched a few people, the usual stuff. The centre of Brisbane is a pretty vibrant place! When I grew up in Sydney, Brisbane was always thought of as a big country town. It’s not true now. I actually quite liked it.
As I said, I took a few pictures. While it didn’t really rain during my wander around, it was all still grey and gloomy. You have to imagine how lovely it would look under blue skies. Here’s the river looking a bit swollen.
And here’s one of the knobbly balls right at the top. A lot of people take photographs of their relatives sitting on them. I have no idea what they are or why. Enough that they look quite funky.
And so I finally ended up at Roma Street for the final time and caught the slow train back to Landsborough (with a change-over at Caboolture) where Trace met me for the wet ride back to Kawana Island. It hadn’t stopped raining all day and the Internet was still not accessible.
A lovely day with lovely company. Thank you, Joanne.