A miracle happened in Brisbane: the sun came out.
Not for the whole week and not every day, but enough to cheer my cynical and soggy soul. Maybe it was the sunshine, or the laid back locals, but something about Brisbane reminded me a lot of California.
Like Californians, Australians really appreciate their countries gorgeous natural habitat and try to take advantage of it by being outside as much as possible. From my friend Ryan who devotes his weekends to spear fishing and kitesurfing to the grey nomads who spend their retirment living out of camper vans, everyone seems to know how lucky they are.
Even a large urban centery like Brisbane makes a special effort to incorporate the lush natural surroundings into it’s concrete core. There are the usual museums and shopping centers of course, but there’s also a great deal of greenery.
Here are just a few places you can find Brisbaners enjoying their natural habitat.
Brisbane Botanic Gardens
Every decent sized city in Australia seems to have it’s own botanic gardens, which makes sense giving the sheer amount of plan life that exists here. Still, most are not quite as large and spacious as Brisbane’s. Lush mini-waterfalls with lounging lizards and placid lily-pad filled pools are spread out among rolling green fields. Everywhere you can see long-beaked Ibises, ubiquitous as pigeons in Brisbane, scouting for food.
My favorite part of the Botanic Gardens was the Mangrove Boardwalk which runs along the riverfront. Mangrove trees grow half-submerged in salt water and the environment they creat is home to a variety of plant and animal life. There is an elevated walkway that lets you wander among the aquatic forests.
The Roma Parklands
Another great park on the opposite side of the CBD isthe area near Roma Station. The park is really well maintained and engineered to showcase a variety of Queensland plant life. The best bit is the Fern Gully walk, filled with rainforest plants and proud iguanas sunning themselves. They scared the crap out of Liz but I thought they were cute…
The South Bank
It’s not quite natural, but the promenade south of the river is most definitely a celebration of Australia’s most revered and reviled resource: the sun. Since there aren’t any proper beaches in the city center, the city has provided a man made lagoon. This is a common practice in Queensland, but the Brisbane one is a truly impressive winding series of pools and fountains that might actually be better than a real beach. You can walk along purple flowered arbours and watch Australians and tourists of all shapes, sizes and ages splash around. With sunscreen fully applied, of course!
This is just a sampling of what’s near the city center, further out there are a plethora of state parks and of course the beautiful, dolphin filled Moreton Bay. With a city as perpetually warm and sunny as Brisbane there has to be natural outlets that everyone can enjoy.
*I’m currently traveling around Australia in a Chubby Camper Van with the generous help ofTravellers Auto Barn.