Australia Travel Series: Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney

Australia Travel Series: Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney


Part 2//Exploring Brisbane + to Gold Coast

Brisbane, Kangaroo Point; Nov 15th, 11:57 am

Brunch! Yes, brunch. I took the City Hopper free ferrying service to Kangaroo Point for some quiet neighbourhood charm. There are various adventurous activities to do here, like the two-hour Story Bridge climbing experience and Kangaroo Cliff climbing - but I'm not in the mood for thrill. 

No - I made my merry way down the wrong side of Story Bridge (these residential blocks really get the best of blue skies and fresh air, white blocks of holiday homes), crossed under at Rotherdam Street to the Main Street I was supposed to follow along. Made it to Puk Collective; a combination coffee shop and pop up store, with a sitting area under a massive tree. And I mean massive. It was large enough to build a tree house on. 

nom nom nom

I ordered a Brioche French Toast and a Berry Bliss Smoothie. No cutting corners on brunches! I'm here for the full morning/noon/moon(?) indulgence. The caramelized bananas were so sweet, and it was good bread. I didn't even notice the ice cream melting until some of it leaked off the board onto the table. It was relaxing to not have to rush a meal, to eat slowly enough that this larger than usual breakfast didn't make me feel sick. 

The women next to me agreed.

"Wow, that looks delicious!"

"Oh, it’s definitely photo material," I said.

They ordered the same thing to share. 

Eagle Street Pier & City Botanic Garden

I took a turn right to walk parallel Main Street, McDonald's Street taking me past the few bank side houses back to Thornton Ferry Pier. 

It was one stop to Eagle Street Pier. I have been here before. 

It was layered, multiple-tiered and white, like what I imagined a classic nautical place to be. I remember coming here with my family, however many years ago, when the sun was setting and it was turning dark. It was noisier then, I think. Around 1:30 pm, all I've encountered were those passing through: joggers along the river, a few tourists. 

I thought the City Botanic Garden would have a conservatory, some greenhouses to walk through. But it is more like the Southbank Parklands, more park than any sort of exhibitive plantation. 

I planted myself there for another hour or two of silent contemplation. Just taking in the stretch of Kangaroo Point, the people using this narrow Pathway below Bunya Walk, hemmed in by soft flat waters on one side and sloping green on the other. 

Dad loves sailboats, so I took the opportunity to snap some wide shots.

The sky then took the opportunity to open rain. The trees here were mainly conical so I had to find shelter under an actual roof.

Aside from the side-effect of a drop in temperature, there was some fun in running around the gardens while rain fogged up my glasses. The way rain sticks to the skin, the smell of damp and the stiffness of damp jeans were unpleasant. The drips, thuds and hush, however, set a melody under layers of rhythmic shoes and spinning wheels. When the rain peters out from a loud constant rush to emptier sounds, it’s like opening a door and walking out into the clean.

After effects of rain include fresh, fresh air. Brisbane at night was as tranquil as it was in the day, it’s been a while since I’ve been on relatively uncluttered shopping streets. With a brief nap under my belt (and dry socks on my feet), I went out for dinner with a high school friend.

on growing up & reconnecting

She’s working at a hospital here, been on contract for two three months. I told her in turn about leaving my job and munched on my miso smoked pork belly burger.

Miel Container (premium homemade) Burger – as advertised.

I don’t think I’ll ever get used to meeting friends outside of the country I met them, even though over half my friends I met overseas. It’s doubly strange when it comes to people I’ve known for over ten years, and seeing them settle outside of our childhood Hong Kong.

We’re leading our own lives now. It’s no longer about the next class, waiting for lunch breaks, hanging out after school hours, finishing the next piece of homework… it’s finding a job, paying the bills, feeding ourselves and making decisions that can take us very different directions five years down the line. It’s no longer knowing the same people, but extending our circle, sometimes bumping into mutuals. It’s not the familiarity of English in school, Cantonese on the streets – it’s English, Chinese, Japanese, Korean and everything in between. It’s growing older and being aware of what that means. Responsibilities. So easily, we forget how to be excited about growing up when we dipped our toes in the pool and realized we’re at the deep end.


Brisbane, West End; Nov 16th, 11:59 am

Another day dedicated to walking. The West End comprises of cafes and restaurants surrounded by boxes of cozy houses.

Some prior research pulled up great brunch places, and the first one I came across was The Gunshot Café. It was a touch grungy, with leather upholstery and a brick wall partitioning off the bar from dining tables, but the open windows near front kept the room cool. My Dutch gingerbread pancake and chamomile tea combo arrived in no time; alas, I couldn’t finish it!

“How was the food?” the manager asked when I was paying, a big man who was intimidating until he smiled. It was a friendly smile.

“Good, really good,” I shook my head, “I couldn’t finish it though.”

He laughed at this. “Yeah, I know, I was watching you. Thought ‘ah, good effort but time is working against her’. You slowed down, eh?”

“It was a really generous portion,” I shrugged. “I’ll try again next time I drop by. Thanks!”

“Have a good day.”

walking the West End

Past the small shops and restaurants was everything I imagined the suburbs to be; rows and rows of quiet, orderly houses with a porch out front, plants spilling over front gates and fences. The heat bore down relentlessly (is it a punishment for sneaking outside people’s homes?) but I kept up the aimless walk.

Have you ever done that? Just walk.

I’ve tried doing it before. It’s surprisingly difficult. I tend to get anxious, always checking the bus schedule and walking fast, propelled to arrive at exactly the time I predicted. I re-run routes in my head when I’m running late, going through alternatives, hoping it’ll get me there sooner – even if I know very well the person I’m meeting will be late. I keep checking google maps on the way to a new place, even if it’s relatively straight forward. Strange isn’t it? Even in a city as small as Hong Kong, I worry about getting lost. Maybe it’s not about getting lost, but wasting time.

Time was what I had in Brisbane. Whatever knotted up my stomach had more to do with the unfamiliarity of solo travel.

All I had to do was keep walking. I pushed through the tranquility of the West End homes, colourful snatches of graffiti, metal fences and empty streets on the way back to Kurilpa Point Park, cross that wired bridge back to the hotel.

--> Gold Coast; late afternoon

Back on a train to somewhere.

Waiting on the platform was fine. Getting on the train was fine. Watching each stop fly back, the city exchanged for flatter lands and sparser housing, was fine. Checking on time, that I’m on the right line, was a bit more nerve-wracking.

Don’t judge! It’s a long ride. With the waning sun comes even more unfamiliarity. The dark hides landmarks, muffles defining features of faces, turns a welcoming pat into potential unwelcomed threat of a stranger.

It’s one of those times I’m extremely grateful for technology. Relief came in two words nearly there – and anticipation takes the place of anxiety. I’ll be with a friend soon.