Rachel Down Under!

What happens in Vegas…

Posted in Australia, Brisbane by rssmith218 on November 30, 2010

…stays in Brisvegas!

Hello from Brisbane, the capital of Queensland, and also the site of great Fulbright Thanksgiving revelry. Brisbane, affectionately termed “Brissie” and at times, “Brisvegas” (though perhaps, ironically?), was a lovely place to spend the holiday, and our trip was packed full of site seeing and explorations, in addition to turkey celebrations! Photo credits in this post to Aisha, Alice, Lindsey, and Sarah.

I had originally thought that Brisbane was a small country town, but it turns out that it is actually the third-largest city in Australia, with a population of over 2 million– that’s the size of Houston, TX,  and only about 800,000 people shy of Chicago!

See- it’s a real city!

So what did we get up to in this great metropolis?

1. Koalas!

It is illegal to cuddle koalas in New South Wales, so upon arriving in Queensland, we of course made our way to Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, the world’s “first and largest” koala sanctuary, for some koala action! I mean, it’s what all of the celebrities are doing!

We didn’t run into Cher, Eric Clapton, or Gorbachev while we were there, but we did check out some pretty fine-looking koalas. I didn’t actually cuddle with a koala, but here you can see that Alice is getting pretty friendly with one!

But the Koala Sanctuary was not limited to koalas- look at all of this other wildlife!

We saw 2 tasmanian devils get into a fight!

Now how many kangaroos are in this picture?

You know, just hanging out with the roos…

…and getting attacked by emus! Scary!

Also, if you’re looking for a good webcam, check out this camera of the Koala Sanctuary’s highly publicized resident platypus, Barak –> insert cheesy Obama joke here.

Or you can just check out this sweet video.

2. Brisbane Botanic Gardens

…where we see Brisbane’s softer side…

…and where I fall over with the excitement of being among mangroves!

3. Gold Coast

We make our way south of Brisbane for a day in Surfer’s Paradise out on the Gold Coast.

And with a name like Surfer’s Paradise, could you expect anything less than this view?

Surfer’s Paradise in Australia is equivalent to Miami in the United States; it is a major tourist destination, with over 10 million visitors per year. We were also lucky enough to visit during Australia’s Schoolies, a three-week-long party for high schoolers graduating from year 12. Despite inadvertantly  joining thousands of Australian high schoolers in the “ultimate summer holiday”, we still managed to have a good time.

The water was a warm change from the cool waters of Sydney, but the strong currents kept us on our toes. How many rips can you spot in this photo?

Aside from waves, sun, and drunk high schoolers, Surfer’s Paradise is also known for its gold-bikini clad meter maids, as I sneakily snapped below.

These scantily clad meter maids were first brought to Surfers in the 1960s (though probably not these same ones…) to improve public attitudes towards the introduction of parking meters in the area.

One look at this photo, and my mood is certainly improved!

Meter maids would feed coins into expired parking meters, although today they have a larger role in promoting Gold Coast tourism than they do in helping out expired parkers.

4. Finally, the reason we’re in Brisbane- Thanksgiving dinner!

A trip to Brisbane’s West End Markets to get fresh fruits and vegetables was followed by a day of cooking (or in my case, watching other people cook) and a hearty meal. Many thanks to the Bickmans for hosting us and for cooking such a wonderful meal!

Turkey!

What a spread!

It may be Thanksgiving, but it is also spring here in Australia- which also means that it is mango season! I’ve never had mangos for Thanksgiving before!

Mmmm. Overall, a delicious and wonderful weekend!