Last day in Brisbane for us today. And we’ll be sad to leave this place. Feels like we’ve only just touched the surface.
However, end on a high… So we had booked a guided tour for Monday via the app Get Your Guide. I’m normally not a big fan of group excursions, but it’s a good way of seeing stuff in an area you’re not familiar with or don’t have enough time to explore and research the best bits beforehand.
Ended up booking a day trip to Stradbroke Island… Simply known as Straddie here. Our guide James picked us all up at 7:45 at Roma St. so it had been quite the early breakfast for us, with kangaroo bangers though which were lush!
Our group was a Chinese student and her mother, an American student and her mother, an Indian couple from Deli on their honeymoon and a family of three from near San Francisco. What a mix.
In James we had a very easy going and chatty guide who made the hour’s drive to the ferry more entertaining by telling us loads of stories and facts around Brisbane, Queensland and Australia in general.
Brisbane was where the repeat offenders where sent. So if you were convict kicked out of Sydney, they sent you to Brisbane. Now, Brisbane is a rather nice place.
The council is putting billions of dollars into new developments. There is a railway extension under way with underground stations connecting the inner city much better with the suburbs on the outside. A new bridge across the river (Referred to as “brown snake” by the locals.) is also under way. And there are also a few new skyscrapers being built as we had seen during our stay. Lots is happening and a council that has a yearly budget of 3 billion dollars sounded quite wealthy to us.
Farming, mining and tourism incl sports tourism are the big industries in Oz. Lots of sugar cane and wheat farming, sheep and cattle also. There are a few minerals to be found as well. Not so much gold (as we had already seen on Mt. Coot-tha).
Our ferry left the terminal at 9am to get us across Moreton Bay which has an incredible 365 islands. Including the second largest sand island in the world and our destination for today: Stradbroke Island. The biggest one is Fraser Island much further up North from Brisbane.
Sandmining had been big on Straddie but it geared more and more towards tourism in recent times. The sun started to come out more and more as we started our tour of the island for real around 10am.
Australia is the second driest country in the world after Antarctica. Who knew. Based on what we’d seen so far we certainly agreed. It was bone-dry everywhere.
First stop was Brown Lake, an inland lake with beach which we had some time to wander along at. It was only recently given back to the Quandamooka people and apparently no decision had been made what happens to it yet. It was still accessible, but used to be only allowed for women to go to.
I found it quite interesting how it seemed that bit by bit Aboriginal people get back what was once theirs. Especially, when it’s sacred places that had been taken away. I can hardly imagine how painful it must have been to see Europeans trample or even in some cases destroy those places.
Later on we stood at a small beach which our guide was very adamant that we don’t step onto, because it belonged to the Quandamooka and we we’re officially not allowed to step onto it. Private property basically.
After a visit to a fresh water well, we went to a minor road leading to above mentioned small beach to try and spot some koalas up in the trees. And sure enough just a couple of minutes after leaving our mini bus we spotted the first one up in a tree chilling and squinting down at us. Awesome! My first sighting of a koala! And a few trees later we even saw another one a bit bigger and higher up. More than ever was I keen to finally by a decent camera again with a decent tele lens and also some binoculars. Been thinking about both for a while now, but never really gotten around to buy those.
Next up was lunch in a rather nice hotel with equally nice food and sea view. Afterwards, we went to Cylinder Beach to chill for an hour. We walked along it feet in the warm water for a bit, then settled in the shade just relaxing. What a lovely place this was.
But the highlight of the day was yet to come: The Point Lookout walk. Right at the North tip of the island is a wooden walkway around the cliffs which one of the prime spots for watching whales, dolphins or even manta rays.
The sun had come out even more, it was hot and sunny and the water blue with white foaming waves breaking into the rugged rock below us. Magic! Eyes peeled we first spotted a large brown turtle paddling in the water. What I would have given for some binoculars!!! I still managed to spot the next creature without sight enhancement: A manta ray! Gliding elegantly just below the surface of the tumbling sea. Wow. We watched in delight before someone spotted a Dolphin. One dolphin became two, then five, then who knows how many. It was a whole pod moving slowly through the water, some of them surfing the waves, other jumping out of the water and back in. Amazing. More first sights for me. Never seen any of those out in their natural habitat.
We walked on and had only one creature left on our list. Kangaroos. We’d pretty much given up, we were nearly done with the walk, but yet there were three of them dozing in the sun under a tree just meters away from the end of our walk. They were well camouflaged with their very light brown coat against light brown trees and shrubs. But we could still see them once we knew where they were.
The icing on the cake of a pretty amazing walk was the delicious gelato we had before hopping back into the bus to catch our 4pm ferry back to the mainland.
Back in Brisbane for 17:45 we made our way home, had well needed showers and then walked to the river front for our reserved table at Kingsley, a steak restaurant we had found by chance when looking for a streak place that serves kangaroo steaks. Amazing atmosphere with the lights of the CBD in the back and Storey Bridge lit up as well.
Even more amazing was the food. We shared some mussels in tomato and chilli before the main course blew us away. A first for both of us. Wagyu rump steaks. We expected nothing less than a perfectly cooked medium rare steak that would melt in the mouth. With all the brilliant meals we’ve had in the last few years, we have certainly become a bit picky and critical when it comes to food. This Wagyu steak exceeded our expectations. It was indeed cooked to perfection and melt in the mouth (rump, mind… not even fillet!), but the flavour and taste were simply outstanding. Nice light char-grilled flavour, but also a slightly gamy note. It was simply perfect and the second best steak I’ve ever had in my life, nearly taking first place even.
Add to that perfect triple cooked chips, well balanced pepper sauce and tarragon butter and we were in food heaven. Oh and brilliant service as well. What an end to our Brisbane stay!
Back home we chilled, reflecting on a perfect day and an amazing 8 days in Brisbane. Time to go to Sydney tomorrow. We’re hoping for a smooth journey on one of the busiest days of the year, allowing for quite some extra time just to get through check in and security. We’ll see.