Saturday, February 21, 2009

QLD Day 1 - Brisbane

This edition of Ben's Adventures is coming to you live from down town Brisvegas.

The flight up was pretty uneventful, except for the fact we flew straight past the fire affected areas. I managed to make out Wandong and Kilmore East townships. The extent of the area affected was mind blowing. The whole Mount Disappointment/Kinglake/ Flowerdale area looked a sort of grey colour, quite depressing. Most of the smoke was coming from the Yea/Alexandra area.

We reached cruising altitude over Corowa, after that the only towns I managed to make out when I happened to glance out the window were Cootamundra and Tamworth. As you travel north the landscape gradually changes from browny-yellow in Victoria and Southern NSW to bright green near the Queensland border. The green may be just on the surface, because I happened to read on the weather page in a newspaper (last Wednesdays Courier Mail) I was reading while eating dinner tonight that the SE QLD water storages are only 50% full. The most shocking thing is that the average water usage figures accompanying this are that the average daily usage is 150 litres per day. i'm too tierd to work out how it can be acheived in QLD, but not in Melbourne, something to do with not needing to water gardens

From Brisbane airport I took the skytrain to Roma Street station. The trains run at 30 minute intervals, and having just missed one had to wait about 25 minutes. Luckily my train arrived just after the one I missed left so I was able to sit in the cool air conditioning. Once it got going the journey was relatively quick, although we seemed to wait a long time at one station where the drivers changed over, and then agian we sat in the platform for a few minutes at Central station.The one way trip was $14. Overall the service seems a bit half baked, with such large gaps between trains and the leisurely pace. I would rather pay about the same fare for the more frequent and faster Skybus service in Melbourne.

I'm staying in a backpacker hostel in Roma Street, of a well known international chain. I booked a private room, which is basic but all you really need. I'm currently using the wifi provided by the hostel which is not cheap, very slow, and occasionally drops out. I'm seriously considering going out and buying a prepaid wireless internet thingy.

Late this afternoon I took a walk down through the Brisbane CBD and found myself in Queen Street Mall. I don't know why I'm always impressed with other cities main shopping strips, in comparison this makes Bourke Street look rather sad. I think what impressed me the most was that instead of putting tram tracks down the middle, every 50 meters or so they have a small outdoor bar/cafe serving beer on the tap (not just XXXX), and what looked like good reasonably priced meals. Each one seemed to have a different theme, there was an irish one and one that served prawns.

The thing that doesn't impress me is that the place seems to die at exactly 5:00 pm, that's it everything closes. Near the hostel there is a Coles where I thought I would buy some supplies. No such luck, they closed at 6, and it was already 6:05. That is just ridiculous.

As I will be relying on public transport to get around, in the morning I intend on going and getting a Go card, which is the SE QLD public transport smart card. They are everywhere. I'm keen to use one to see what it may be like in Melbourne if they ever get Myki up and running. In the time it has taken Victoria to dither around with Myki, two Australian states have implimented whole systems.

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