Day 003: Brisbane, Australia
Position: S 27º 26′ 29″ E 153º 04′ 05″
Weather: cloudy, 14ºC with drizzle starting in the afternoon
Last Port: Sydney, Australia
Next Port: Singapore
Status: at the pier, starboard side to, head in from sea
From the Navigator:
In the early hours of the morning the local Brisbane pilot will be embarked at Point Cartwright pilot station. We will then commence our pilotage through Moreton Bay before arriving at the entrance of the Brisbane River. The ship will navigate up the Brisbane River and pass under the Gateway Bridge before proceeding alongside our berth at Portside Cruise Terminal. In the evening, with all passengers and crew on board, the ship will let go her mooring lines and move astern, before swinging and retracing her tracks out of the river and through Moreton Bay. In the evening, once the pilot is disembarked at Point Cartwright pilot station we will set northerly courses paralleling the east coast of Queensland.
Up for an early morning and off the pilot station by 0530. The transit into the port started in the dark. A quick sunrise revealed a high overcast of dark threatening clouds, which the locals aboard considered strange for normally sunny Brisbane. At breakfast we met Kiwis Ivan and Diane. He called himself a displaced limey and asked whether we knew the origin of that expression (attributed to the English after Captain Cook ‘discovered’ the benefits of citrus to long-voyaging sailors).
We brought a collapsible backpack and took a local shuttle bus for a 15 minute trip into the city’s downtown. This is the heart of their shopping area. For us this was good, because after a full day at sea we had discovered several things we needed, such as better workout gear and a couple of snacks to keep in the cabin. To our surprise they had an honest to goodness Target store in the George Street mall which also housed Myer and quite a number of local brand stores. International brands were well represented with McDonalds, Gloria Jean’s coffee, Starbucks and 7-11.
We found a juice bar for a small mid-morning snack and got a 2kg package of mixed chopped fruit. Several local signs showed the Queensland pride in Australian products, declaring their produce was over 95% from local sources. The green seedless grape looked exactly like the variety with which we’re familiar, but was so succulent it seemed unnaturally sweet. The truth, at least with grapes, is truly in the ground.
With our last minute shopping done and purchases in hand, we wandered over a couple blocks and down to the Brisbane River. An early colonial heritage museum maintained by The Royal Historical Society of Queensland charged $5 to view their exhibits. The museum was housed in a three story stone building constructed by convict labor, right down to the bars in the windows. We learned, however, that the bars were placed to keep convicts out as the building was the prison’s storehouse. Several seniors groups and a class of green and black uniformed children passed through as we were there.
We started in the basement learning about convict life in Brisbane and the eventual lift of the settlement ban. This brought free settlers from the 50 mile perimeter to the center of the city. The first free tradesman in Brisbane was Andrew Petrie, a carpenter who fixed the windmill and started a multi-generation carpenting dynasty. The second floor held artifacts from the early- and mid-20th century waves of colonization, most notably the Italian influx after World War II. Brisbane is noted for having the first espresso machine on the continent, cementing the coffee culture firmly in the northeast.
After a brief walk through city hall we found ourselves on a side street looking for a lunch counter. Michelle spotted a place advertising 24 hour service called the Pancake Manor. It’s inside an old church building and if you’re ever in Brisbane you should go for the excellent selection of crepes and coffees. They’ll also do special events. Seating was set for parties from 2 to twenty and the afternoon crowd was tame compared to what the layout could handle: a 360º central bar and a medium stage and dancing area at the back. One of the waiters was in a white tank top, another was in a full tuxedo with bow tie. A compelling space with an eclectic feel, good selection and good food.
Turning left out of the Manor we immediately discovered a used book shop. They claim over one million books on the uneven shelves and none of the titles were new. The rows were very well organized by subject and then alphabetical by author. It was our kind of place. The first editions and hardcover rare books were all on display close to the entrance and register, but locked under glass. Those books should really be by ‘appointment only’ anyway. Our comment was “so many books, so little time”. Before leaving we traded a West By Sea business card with their printed bookmark and promised to return for an exclusive book signing when we go to print.
It had started to rain and we decided to start angling back for the shuttle stop to return to the ship. We made one more stop at a local “Chemist” which was labeled (strangely for Australia) the “Pharmacy”. Ed picked up one of his favorites, the “Crunchie” bar as an afternoon pick-me-up.
Safely back aboard ship the crew prepared for sea. The conning officer sprung the stern away, then backed into the current, pivoted to starboard and commenced the outbound transit at first 6, then between 10 and 13 knots depending on river traffic. Disembarking the pilot at 8pm and again in the dark, we started north once again and enroute the tropics.