No, let us assure you that Brisbane has not burnt to the ground. River Fire was the name of the fireworks spectacular, set up on pontoons on the Brisbane River, which we watched from our 22nd floor dining room last night. Thousands of people had staked their claims to a good spot on the river bank during the day, taking the families, supplies, seats and blankets along to watch this annual event. It started off with four rather noisy Army helicopters, making their distinctive sound as they flew along the river and over the heads of the crowds. Not to be outdone, two jets then streaked up and down the river, putting on a great show. Much too fast to get caught on our cameras, of course. Then the sun started to sink in the west, and the countdown to 7.00pm began. Then over the course of 30 minutes, 11,000kgs of fireworks went up in smoke.
View from our window, with a glimpse of the Wheel of Brisbane
It went off with a bang
The next morning we purchased tickets for the Brisbane Explorer bus. And yes, they had concession prices for a couple of oldies like us – at a saving of $10 each it was well worth asking the question. To make things even better, our tickets took us on two different tours around the city. We love this sort of tour, the commentary points out all sorts of interesting sights and buildings, and gives us a good overview of the city.
The Brisbane Explorer
We did the Brisbane City Tour first, and drove past little old buildings, churches and government buildings from the early days, side by side with big brassy sky-scrapers – with plenty more under construction, we noticed. We drove down a narrow street covered over in canopies. Not as sun protection, we were informed, but because the glass windows keep falling out from the tall building at an alarming rate. Talk about putting an ambulance at the bottom of a cliff – why don’t the powers-that-be do something about the defective building? And do those people sitting below sipping their coffees know of the danger ready to rain down on them?
Canopies to protect the public from falling windows
Giant Morton Bay Fig Trees in the city centre
The Windmill Tower was built of sandstone by convicts in 1828, and was the first industrial building in Brisbane. The windmill blades have long gone, but in their day they were not moved by wind, but by the hard labour of the convicts.
The Windmill Tower
We just loved the elegant Regatta Hotel with it’s beautiful iron lace verandas. This heritage listed building now houses cafes, restaurants and bars, and gives rest to back packers. And Koala House is one of the few two story buildings left in the city.
Regatta Hotel and Koala House
We stopped at the lookout stop above the Kangaroo Point cliffs which had amazing views over the river and city buildings.
View from Kangaroo Point cliffs
Our first tour finished and we had a quick lunch at one of the many Food Halls scattered around the CBD. Robin chose Kentucky Fried and a Coke, and I very bravely tried something different, Saigon Lemongrass Chicken and Noodles, washed down with a glass of Lychee juice. Very tasty, and we finished in time to board the next bus tour, this one took us up the 800ft Mount Coot-tha. It used to be known as One Tree Hill, but reverted to the original name of Coot-tha, which means “place of the honey bees”.
There was a stop of 10 minutes here, which gave us just enough time to scurry up to the lookout which was packed with visitors, take a few photos, and get back to the bus before it departed. A helpful young tourist took our photo for us.
View from Mount Coot-tha lookout
On Mount Coot-tha, with Brisbane in the background.
It was another lovely day out sight seeing – wonder what we will get up to tomorrow?