Travels in Oz

I'm off - for 6 months of adventure (er, research) in Australia.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

A whirlwind trip to Brisbane

The best thing about being a grad student is that you can take your weekends in the middle of the week. Last Tuesday night I flew up to Brisbane for an impromptu visit with my former roommates Peter and Andrew. It was a cheap flight, I needed a break, and Andrew’s pictures of the beautiful new house, complete with a pool, were just too much to resist. Moving up north hasn’t changed Peter and Andrew at all – they are just as silly as before, and it was great to have the chance to relax with good friends. Plus, I got to see Toby and Lulu, their very lovable golden retrievers, and to spend some quality time with the espresso machine that I’ve been missing so deeply for the past two months.

Wednesday was my day of sightseeing, and Brisbane is small enough that you can do all of its attractions in one go. I started by taking a ferry down the river, which meanders through the city, and hopped off at the Botanical Gardens. My father is an ecologist, and after countless walks through the woods with dad as a kid, I should be able to tell the different types of trees apart. Sadly though, I’m lucky if I can distinguish an oak tree from a bush. But, ignorant as I am, I still find botanical gardens serene and impressive, and the one in Brisbane was no exception. There was a wooden walkway through a marshy area by the river that was particularly beautiful, and made a perfect spot for lunch. I was then off to the art gallery, which was fairly small, so I saw pretty much everything in an hour and a half. Actually, the best pieces were in an exhibition of prize-winning work by Australian high school students – some of them really blew me away. Of course, then I just started to feel old and unaccomplished (after all, my two greatest achievements in high school were playing a bit part in Bye Bye Birdie and not failing Chemistry) so I quickly moved on to the nearby Museum of Brisbane. It was, by far, the strangest museum I’ve ever been in. Here’s a selection of the exhibits it held:

Ceramics from the 1970s
Stuffed polar bears, stuffed kangaroos, stuffed birds, stuffed possums
Old trains
Egyptian mummies
Pickled snakes in jars of formaldehyde
A dried skeleton of a lizard with a bird in its mouth (apparently it had tried to eat the bird, but bit off more than it could chew, choked on the carcass, and was found – mummified by the sun – years later)


Afterwards, it was time for a recuperative coffee on the south bank of the river, and then back home for dinner; Andrew made an incredible lamb bruscetta, and we spent the evening chatting over some wine. The next day I lounged around by the pool, then met up with my friend Ragne, who I lived with during my first two weeks in Sydney before she moved up the coast. It was a fantastic mid-week weekend. Thanks Peter and Andrew – I had a great time.


  • At 2:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    just for the record, in high school, i played a bit part in "42nd street", and failed chemistry.
    - johnny


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