Brisbane (via Australia zoo)

After a final night in Hervey Bay, we set off on yet another road trip, this time our destination being Brisbane. We had a very important stop to make along the way, however. Growing up, Blake and I both watched a particular show that gave us a particularly fascinating if not scary perception of Australia, thanks to one certain crocodile hunter. Australia zoo was, and remains, the home and heart of Steve Irwin and his family, who continue to run the zoo and its connecting conservation projects. It’s been almost ten years since Steve wrestled his last crocodile, but his legacy is alive and well at the zoo and we were beyond excited to be walking around. 

After a slow trip we arrived mid afternoon and were directed straight to the crocodile show that had just started.
These animals are very cool and very scary: the keeper couldn’t keep the nerves out of his voice as he tempted the croc out of the water with a chunk of meat, and explained the myths and facts surrounding these iconic creatures. 
Afterwards, we went to Roo Heaven, as I have been desperate to see kangaroos and koalas since we landed in Oz two weeks ago. I did not expect to get such a close encounter, though! Visitors are free to stroll amongst the roos, getting close enough to stroke and feed them with specialised ‘roo food’. They are much cuter than I expected, and not the feral, aggressive animals I had heard about in the wild. 
Next we made our way to the koalas, and they really took my breath away, they were adorable. They are tricky to spot high up in the trees, but a few had been coaxed onto some lower branches so visitors could see them up close and give them a little stroke or pat. They seemed happy to snooze whilst being petted and photographed, with a naughty one in a time out hug with the keeper. 

We circled round through the echidna and wombat enclosures, which are both extremely cute…
and reluctantly saw two other slippery residents in the main information centre…
where I purchased some roo food to feed the kangas!!!!!

It was an amazing afternoon, with some close encounters that I won’t forget in a hurry, but all too soon we had to be back on the road to get to Brisbane before dark. We just about made it, and found a spot at Newmarket Gardens CP for the night. That evening, we bussed into town to catch the second half of the Lions test match, then met up with an Aussie friend of mine! Lizzie and I met volunteering in Nicaragua two years ago, and after one marriage and a trip round the world, we reunited for a night out in Brisbane!!!!! She and her husband showed us round Southbank and joined us for dinner, before heading to Kangaroo Point to look out over Brisbane’s nocturnal skyline. It was brilliant to catch up and see how the other has grown and succeeded, and I was so happy we got the chance to see each other.

The next morning, another reunion! Formerly Ms Edgar, Carla arrived at the campsite with a best friend and Brisbane local to take us out to lunch and catch up, after almost eight years of parting ways after my third year at school, where she was my form tutor and drama teacher for two years. We were treated to a tasty meal at a cafe along the river, along with lots of local gossip and reminiscing on Brentwood School. Then they kindly dropped us off at New Farm park and we caught the citycat ferry back along the river to Southbank, catching the rays and some great views. 
Hopping off, we walked a short way along the bank until we reached a grassy area, full of sunbathing Brizzies and free live music. 

After an hour’s doze we walked across the river into town and found ourselves doing some spontaneous shopping. Then we were surprised with the Winter festival, complete with ice rink (with kangas instead of penguins for the kids) and hot, delicious food from “wooden” stalls. With curry in a cone for starters… we then grabbed some ciders and a stone-oven pizza to takeaway back to the campsite. What a way to end a short but fantastic time in the lovely city of Brisbane. 

The next day, as had to happen, we took a wrong turn thanks to a traffic diversion and ended up driving through the horribly confusing streets of central Brisbane before escaping to the motorway and finally making our way to the surfers paradise that is Byron Bay. Boy, was this worth the wait.

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