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Sunday, December 2, 2012

21. Tuesday - Lunch Cruise

Tuesday 10th January

Well today is my birthday and I'm going on a river cruise on the Kookaburra Queen. I pre-booked this before I left home. It was starting to get warm and was pretty hot by the time I arrived. You had to exchange your voucher for a ticket at the ticket window. The staff had put balloons on my table. Which was nice of them.

Above: Kookaburra Queen
All aboard - The Kookaburra River Queen Paddlewheeler is a Brisbane icon, plying the Brisbane River for over 20 years. Cruising on the river for lunch or dinner is a very pleasant way to while away a couple of hours. And what could be better than cruising down the river while enjoying your meal - you even have live entertainment in the form of "Col" on his accordion.

Above: My table
IN this collage, you can see my table, the lower left shows culinary delights and Col the entertainer is on the right photo. Lunch consists of a three course buffet which includes a fresh carvery, hot and cold buffet selections including international dishes, salads, fruit, desserts, tea and coffee. Wine is extra. You board at noon, depart at 12.30om and arrive back at 2.00pm. The cost was $42 which is pretty good value. If I was in Brissie again, I'd do the cruise again too.

Above: Story Bridge
The Story Bridge is a steel cantilever bridge and spans the Brisbane River between the northern and the southern suburbs of Brisbane. It opened to the public on 6th July 1940 and is 74 metres high. With a length of 777 metres, it's the longest cantilever bridge in Australia. The bridge is illuminated at night.

Above: Onboard entertainment
"Cheeky Col" played his piano accordion and started up with "It's a Long Way to Tipperary" to which many of us sung along. This was followed by a rollicking good time with many "Golden Oldies" being played.

Above: Kookaburra Queen
All too soon the cruise was over and we are once again back on dry land, out boat once again in dock.
All in all, a very pleasant time and a wonderful birthday memory.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

20. Brisbane Itinerary

Monday - Arrive Brisbane
Tuesday - Lunch River Cruise
Wednesday - Sunshine Coast day tour
Thursday - Gold Coast: Meet friend tour Mt. Tamborine
Friday - Gold Coast: Meet friend drive around the coast
Saturday - Mt. Coot-Tha and South Bank
Sunday - Meet friend for coffee
Monday - Coffee at Alpen Espresso, city walk then depart for home

19. Brisbane Here I Come!

Monday 9 January

Well, it's Monday the 9th of January, the day I fly to Brisbane and my mum's birthday. Did the right thing, rang mum and wished her happy birthday. Washed the dishes (Junior had the nerve to say to me, "Do the dishes before you leave. You have a nasty habit of leaving them when you go away") what? ME? Never. Well, okay so I did once or maybe twice, but hey - considering the times I've gone away that's only a miniscule number. Talk about cheek!

Anyway, washed the offending articles - there really weren't that many anyway. Packed my suitcase, had a last cup of tea and then was on my way.

Tullamarine Airport

Arrived at the airport needed to check my bag in. Had tried to do this online but it didn't happen. Son had booked me a Qantas flight but it was a Jetstar flight. Haven't flown Domestic for a few years now boy how things have changed! And not for the better if you ask me.

Beforehand, you'd wait in line then hand your Itinerary to the person at the counter, she'd scan it, give you your boarding pass ant put a paper sticker on the handle of your suitcase. Not now though - it's quite different. First off, you don't get the service you did before (which wasn't all that great anyway) and now you have to DIY - wait in line, put your Itinerary under this machine thingy, then wait for your pass thing which comes out and then wait for - wait for it - the paper sticker!

Yes folks, that's right, the paper sticker. You now have to put it around the handle yourself. I found this rather surprising. Talk about DIY!

Finding food

As I hadn't eaten anything (my own fault I know), I was decidedly hungry and after going through security I quickly grabbed the last sandwich - $8.00 for a ham and salad. Walking a little further on I see hot food - a toasted ham and cheese sandwich for $7.50 so I ordered one of them. Hopping from one foot to the other, hoping I wouldn't miss the boarding gate - every second seeming like an hour - it was ready and off I set for Gate 23. Looking at the flight board, there were two Gold Coast flights but the Brisbane one wasn't showing.

Please go to the other gate

Ate my toasted sanger, the GC flights were called and suddenly the waiting room was all but deserted. Something made me get up and ask "When is the Brisbane flight boarding?" "Oh that is now leaving from Gate 27 - there was an announcement" Yikes thought I, I hope I haven't missed it.

Rushed downstairs and found myself in the bowels of the underworld - no air con, no proper ceiling, big pipe things overhead, many people waiting. One lady told me her flight to Tasmania was due out at 12 noon but had been delayed by 5 hours. Seems like quite a number of Jetstar flights had been delayed. Finally our flight was called - it had been delayed - and we had to walk out on the tarmac.

Eventually we took off. Brought two coffees plus a doughnut which was yummy plus a muffin which was forgettable.

Brisbane Landing

Landed in Brisbane only 15 minutes late - left the plane to face an unbearable heat. Caught the Airtrain which thankfully had aircon. Son rang me and said to get out of Central station at the Turbot Street entrance. I ended up on the corner of Adelaide and Edward Street. Son rang again, found me and walked me through the Sofitel entrance, past the Central Station exit and out to Turbot Street.

No Air-Conditioning

We arrived at his apartment, he turned the air-con on, only to realise a little later that it wasn't working. He was not a happy chappy and who can blame him? It was hot and sticky and uncomfortable both inside and outside the apartment. He said he'd speak with the manager the next day and if he couldn't confirm it would be fixed that day, he would ask to be moved to another apartment.


We had dinner at a place called St. Paul's - they do a Monday night $10 steak night. It was a fair walk uphill to get there. The steak was delicious, the wine good and the staff friendly. Back at the apartment later we faced a (very) warm night.

Monday, January 9, 2012

18. Brisbane - All Bus Timetables

All Bus Timetables for Brisbane TransLink areas.

TransLink Maps for Busway network, NightLink network, Inner Brisbane zones, Train network, NightLink stops, TransLink regions, Ferry network and Brisbane City bus stops.

17. Mt. Coot-Tha

Bus Number 471 goes to the Mt. Coot-Tha Lookout and Botanical Gardens. Timetable is below:

Outbound - To Mt. Coot-Tha Mon - Fri
Inbound - From Mt. Coot-Tha Mon - Fri

Outbound - To Mt. Coot-Tha Saturday
Inbound - From Mt. Coot-Tha Saturday

Outbound - To Mt. Coot-Tha Sunday
Inbound - From Mt. Coot-Tha Sunday

A 1 km walk to bus stop (15 mins). Buses run hourly from 9.30 until 3.30pm then every 35 minutes.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

16. Car or Tour?

I now find myself in a bit of a quandary. Here's me thinking my son would take me somewhere - show me around, hire a car etc. but he is flying back home on the Friday and flying back to Brisbane on the Monday. Having read reviews of the place where he (and therefore I) are staying, it seems the accommodation is in a business part and is dead at weekends - everything is shut. Someone said you could always catch a taxi at night, but...taxis cost money and it doesn't seem to be the place where you meet other people. Better suited to people on business or couples/families but not so good if you're by yourself. Which I will be from Friday evening until Monday.

Rang son earlier to see if he had changed his ticket (he said he'd try and do this), but it turns out his gf has a work thing on on Saturday night and usually she goes to things with his friends and she probably wouldn't go to the work thing by herself. It's sort of like a late New Year's thing. She's a nurse so a work "do" can't just happen at the drop of a hat. I told him in that case not to worry about it and go to the party with her.

He then remembered that his mate from school is moving to Bunbury and is having a going away party on the Friday night. His friend is in Sri Lanka at present and will only be home for a day or so. He did say had he remembered about his friend he would have booked the tickets for a week later. Ah well...never mind, I'll just have to make the best of it.

He said if I wanted to go to Noosa (or Noosa Heads) he'd advise hiring a car and the best (and only in his opinion) thing about Noosa was a cruise which costs around $10 - but it's a sunset cruise. He and his gf did this when she was up in Brisbane in November. Of course it is cheaper to hire a car in November than it is in January - especially if you book several weeks in advance.

So ... I have booked a car for the weekend (I can always cancel with no charge up to one hour before pick-up) - a 2 day car hire is $119, yet a 3 day hire is $122! Funny thing though, I couldn't book a car for two days - the site wouldn't let me. I rang one of the 1300 numbers and spoke with a female who said it would have to be a 3 day car hire. I then rang another 1300 number, spoke to a chap who didn't say I couldn't hire a car for two days, but I ended up going for the 3 days as I'll pick up the vehicle at 8.00am Saturday and then am not relegated to returning it at 8.00am on the Monday morning.

Where in all this you might ask is the quandary? Well, I'll tell you. It's like this see - as son is going back home, what am I going to do at the weekend I thought. I want to visit the Eumundi Market and Noosa Heads, and had originally thought of doing a day tour. These tours are run only on Wednesdays and Saturdays (the days the market is open) and I was going to do the tour on the Wednesday. Especially as I checked the Brisbane weather and Wednesday will be about 34º and Saturday is several degrees cooler and with some rain.

All this meant that I would have Tuesday free, and the weekend to do something with the son.

With a car I'll have Tuesday and Wednesday free and can drive to Eumundi and then onto Noosa Heads on the Saturday. Plus see other stuff along the way. Sunday would also be spent going driving somewhere - I haven't quite worked that bit out yet. Anyway, the thing is although it "only" costs an extra $30 to hire a car, there is also the petrol to factor in.

A day tour will be $89 - plus $3.85 "booking fee" (they know how to get ya don't they?) making a total of $92.85. $93 in other words, compared to $122 for the car plus however much petrol costs. Add say $30 or $40 for the petrol, then I'm looking at $162 for car hire compared to $93. A difference of almost $70. ($60 if the petrol costs $30) Still - it is a bit of a difference.

So then, if I don't hire the car, I would use Tuesday and Wednesday looking around Brisbane city, Thursday and Friday I'm meeting friend on the Gold Coast, Saturday I could do the day tour to Eumundi and Noosa Heads, and Sunday I could meet up with another friend for coffee. (I need to let her know which day). This would leave part of Sunday and the Monday to potter around.

An itinerary for both options
Option 1 - Car Hire

Monday 9 - Arrive Brisbane
Tuesday 10 - Meet friend for coffee
Wednesday 11 - Walk around Brisbane seeing the sights, shops etc
Thursday 12 - Train to Gold Coast, meet friend and drive around Mount Tamborine
Friday 13 - Train to Gold Coast, meet friend, lunch drive along the coast etc.
Saturday 14 - Pickup car at 8am, drive to Eumundi, see market, drive to Noosa Heads
Sunday 15 - Drive where? Along coast? Inland? Or along Brce Highway again and visit Ettamagoh Pub, etc? Or around Montville and other villages?
Monday 16 - Drive to Mt Coot Tha? Where else? There's no parking weekdays so will have to drive somewhere. Drop off car 3/4pm. Catch train to airport for flight departing 8.05pm.

Option 2 - Day Tour

Monday 9 - Arrive Brisbane
Tuesday 10 - Walk around Brisbane city
Wednesday 11 - Public transport to Mt. Coot tha, see South Bank
Thursday 12 - Train to Gold Coast, meet friend and drive around Mount Tamborine
Friday 13 - Train to Gold Coast, meet friend, lunch drive along the coast etc.
Saturday 14 - Sunshine Coast day tour to Eumundi Market, Noosa, Maleny and Glasshouse Mountains. Departs Brisbane 8:00am; Returns to Brisbane approx. 5pm.
Sunday 15 - Meet friend for coffee
Monday 16 - Ride river ferry? Catch train to airport for flight departing 8.05pm.

I had thought of booking a lunch cruise for the Tuesday (it's my birthday you see) which would cost $39 - "Three course buffet lunch including fresh carvery, hot and cold buffet selections including international dishes, salads, fruit, desserts, tea and coffee. Boarding 12pm, Departing 12.30, Returning 2pm. Live commentary and entertainment from Cheeky Col on his piano accordion" Kookaburra River Queens

You know now that I think of it, it works out to the same price. Well not really, the tour and cruise are cheaper - $93 for the day tour plus $39 for the lunch cruise comes to $132. Car hire is $122 plus petrol and petrol will cost much more than $10.

So I might do the tour and cruise. I'll sit on it tonight and make a decision tomorrow morning.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

15. Eumundi Market & Noosa Heads

I'm in the middle of working out the time and cost of going to these places using public transport.

Depart Brisbane: 8.00am
Arrive Eumundi : 10.25am

Depart Eumundi: 12.20pm
Arrive Noosa Heads: 12.40pm

Depart Noosa Heads: 13.55pm
Arrive Nambour: 14.55pm

Depart Nambour: 15.13pm Platform 2
Arrive Brisbane: 17.02pm


Depart Brisbane: 7.07am Platform 6
Arrive Nambour: 9.56am

Well now, I've just realised a trip to Noosa Heads on public transport is 6 hours travelling time which doesn't leave much time off the trains and buses, so in hindsight, I think it best to pay the piper and do a day tour, unless I hire a car for two days from (say) 7.00am Saturday till 7.00am Monday. Although having a car allows time to drive here and stop there along the way, it means getting up early on my last day - something which I'd rather not have to do. So it looks like a day tour after all.

Well that's settled, I'm off to book a tour for the Wednesday. That gives me the weekend free.