Krister summed it up pretty perfectly over margaritas the other night, “This place is like a joke, it’s like they said let’s take all the money the US spends on the military and spend it on public services.” Nail, meet hammer. Brisbane has free museums, free multi-city-block-long-swimming-lagoon-with imported sand, free public transportation in and around the city center, free bikes to ride, reliable water fountains, tons of live music, and a government mandate that building owners provide public facing art installations. This place is like a joke, and I love the punchline.
We got in to Brisbane after a very long overnight passage. These passages are worse than multi-night passages because you don’t get into the groove, and this one was even worse than normal because I only got 3 out of my usual 6 hours of sleep. Nevertheless when Diane, Evan, and Maia (from Ceilydh) offered to give us the quick tour we hastily accepted. When we got home, our heads were spinning and we hadn’t even seen 4 city blocks.
The following day we got the grand tour and we just fell in love with Brisbane. Every single person we have talked to has been super friendly. The library is 3 enormous floors and features everything from the obvious to conference rooms, free internet, TV and Movie kiosks, and amazing children’s programs. Then there are the free museums. We just wandered into one the following day because, well because they were there and they were free, and why the heck wouldn’t you wander into a free museum. The kids tore around floor after floor in varying levels of amazement and tripping-over-themselves-enthusiasm, and that was just a lark.
We left the Queensland Museum with many stones unturned so that we would have time to enjoy our main event, the colossal outdoor free swimming complex that the locals call “The Lagoon.” This park is at least 2 (generous) city blocks of water feature, beach, and pools. The Lagoon was wiped out in the 2011 flood and completely rebuilt in time for our arrival. Pretty sweet especially when the temp reached a blistering 39ºC (don’t ask me how hot that is in F, it’s too depressing).
When our bodies were fully thrashed from a day of free-for-all frolic we hopped on the city’s free ferry (the City Hopper, think kangaroo). It gave us a scenic tour of the waterfront (both sides) before returning us to a terminal a few blocks from home.
The city also offers free electric BBQs in the parks. This is especially important if your living room only seats 6 and you have a party of 12 that wants to throw some sausages and steaks down and catch up on a season of cruising. This is exactly how we closed out day two in Brisbane, over at Kangaroo Point, with the crews of Ceilydh, Tao, Britannia, and Convivia. When I took a breather on a nearby park bench (overlooking the city lights and the river) it sounded like a trendy San Francisco restaurant behind me, but when I turned around I saw the faces of friends, old and new, enjoying the warm summer night.
The punchline of this colossal joke though is our new home. The Brisbane Piles offer a stunning view of downtown but protects it’s inhabitants from the bustle by buffering the boats with amazing botanical gardens. So when I wake up and look out the still-salt-encrusted portlights I see morning joggers, trees, and a lovely split-level esplanade. When I crack the companionway I hear exotic birds instead of cars, and the only thing that could possibly threaten to take some joy from it is the
wake wash thrown up by the free city ferry. Not. Too. Shabby.