“It’s ‘Briz-bin,’ mate!”

February 14, 2018


I haven’t heard anybody called ‘Mate’ yet, but there’s still time. We’ve got another week in Australia.

I’m behind, so I’ll forego an episode on Foods of Feasts Past and concentrate on daily doings, not nightly eatings.



We left Sydney Sunday evening en route to Brisbane (see proper pronunciation and map), 545 nautical miles. Which reminds me… Total distance sailed up till yesterday, in nautical miles:


Miami to LA                           4,989

LA to Auckland                      6,847

Auckland to Brisbane           3,049


Total                                       14,885    =   17,129 land miles


And who keeps this ship ship shape and Bristol fashion? The Engine Crew!

That’s Mario from Croatia (left) and Edward from Norway. There are several dozen more engine crew who run the Control Center and maintain the 4 giant diesel/heavy fuel engines that generate 30,000 horsepower to power us ’round the globe. The biggest power consumers are the AC and the refrigeration. When asked how many miles per gallon the Sun gets, the answer was 33 gallons per mile. End of engineering lesson. Since I woke up with a relapse of The Gunk, that’s all I did Monday, to write of.



But yesterday… Yesterday, at the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, I kuddled a koala! Our guide told us, They have a union. They only work so many hours a day. Because there can be up to 1,000 visitors a day who pay $20 to have their picture taken (in addition to the $36 entry fee), the koalas are protected from overhandling. And from overheating: yesterday was record-breakingly hot, in the mid-90s. We’d gotten there before opening, but many other passengers’ tours arrived too late for them to get their moment with the koala. Koalas have a reputation for sleeping all day: it’s because their primary food, eucalyptus leaves, does not provide enough calories to give them any energy. Soooooo cute, though mine was camera shy.


Other animals at the privately funded sanctuary, founded in 1927, included:

Fruit bats… 

 Emu... it can run 40 mph.


Count the Roos: This is the ‘Kangaroo Resting Area.’ They could come out under the fence to be fed.

While the mother worked the selfie stick, one of our passengers helped this little girl feed a joey... no language barrier. I'm guessing the girl is Japanese — such style! All the female Japanese tourists I’ve seen are extremely style conscious.

Kookaburra, but no gum tree...

There were also wombats, Tasmanian devils, dingoes, sheep dogs and many other birds, including raptors, who put on a show.

After the animal encounters, we toured Brisbane on the bus. Once General MacArthur’s base of operations, today it’s a nice city of 2.3 million. Founded in 1823 as a place to send the worst criminals brought into Sydney, and the second offenders. Our bus guide said that Irish Catholics were the convicts and Brits were the jailers and that that ‘rivalry’ continued.

Update on population distribution: Of Australia’s 24 million people, only 480,000 live inland away from the coasts. Our guide used to be one of them.

Jenny’s a descendant of a convict: her ancestor stole three sheep and was transported. Eventually, he became a banker and very wealthy, partnering with the man who introduced Merino sheep into Australia. She was raised in the bush, about 400 miles west of Sydney. Her father was a grazier, raising sheep and then cattle. She went back recently to see the house where she grew up: all the animals and fencing were gone, replaced by fields of wheat as far as the eye could see. She talked about one family that owns 70,000 acres — all in wheat.


The average house in Brisbane costs about $640,000 AUD. A one-bedroom apartment (assuming she meant in one of the many highrises) costs about $500,000. Two-bedroom, $650,000. Three-bedroom, $850,000 up to millions. The exchange rate is about 1.26 AUD to the US dollar. You do the math.

China is funding a new casino complex that will occupy blocks of downtown, including 6 hotels and 50 restaurants, plus apartments. Cost? $1.5 billion. See Tower of Power pic.


Grab shots around town — from the bus, so composition is lacking. First up:  Darth Vader’s helmet?    

Government buildings...











































‘The Tower of Power,’ the centerpiece of the new casino complex that will surround it.

In front of the Tower of Power...

Construction going on everywhere — as it has been in every city we’ve visited in New Zealand and Australia. Tons of money backing this... most from China and Singapore.

 There are a few older residences left, squashed in between the highrises.

The Government Printing Office. With the head of a devil. No comment.

Customs House.

Above: The view from Kangaroo Point Cliffs Park, above the Brisbane River.

The mixture of old, original buildings and modern glass skyscrapers actually created a pleasant architectural environment, although there’s no design planning or homogeneity: the new buildings bear absolutely no resemblance one to the other.
One thing that helps is the river winding through the city, and all the trees — including baobabs! #





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