Much farther south from picturesque Port Douglas is beautiful Brisbane, Queensland. Located along the river for which it is named, the capital city, although smaller than Melbourne, is packed with much to see and do.
Brisbane City Hall’s clock tower is 85 years old and still uses the original cage lift and operation handle to transport maintenance personnel and visitors to its observation deck; thus, making it the oldest manually-operated cage lift in Australia. Originally the lift was installed as a service elevator, but by 1930, shortly after the construction of the building, public tours began for sixpence per adult ($0.50 USD). The lift, which has always been powered by an electromagnetic motor, carries passengers to the observation deck located 76 meters above Brisbane’s CBD.
The bell tower houses five bells, each with at least one exterior hammer. There are four quarter hour bells and one hour bell (that alone weighs four tons!). The four clock faces are the largest analog clocks in Australia measuring five meters in diameter. The minute and hour hands measure three and 1.7 meters, respectively. A master pendulum clock, located in the corner of the bell tower, controls the operation of both the bells and clocks.
After completing the bell tower tour, one can continue on to the Museum of Brisbane. The Museum’s exhibits give a history of the capital city and its development through time, as well as several art exhibits promoting the work of local artists.
Quite a large exhibit showcased a particularly challenging photography technique called camera obscura, Latin for “dark room.” To achieve images like the one above, an outside image is shown through a pinhole aperture onto the wall of an inside room, producing an upside-down and reverse image. A long exposure time (sometimes up to five minutes) gives the images their vibrancy. The sharpest part of the image is located parallel to the aperture; and it is known as the point of clarity. The outer edges are less clear due to the angles of the walls, ceiling, and floor onto which the image deflects.
“If you want to get laid, go to college. If you want an education, go to the library.” –Frank Zappa
The State Library of Queensland differed greatly from that of Victoria, most notably in its more modern design. Since this year marks the ANZAC Centenary, the State Library was hosting an exhibit to honor the men and women who served in WWI. There were displays showcasing draft notices, medical exams/records, progress reports from boot camp, letters to family, and more. Unlike museums that tend to give the facts and figures of war history, the exhibit focused primarily on first-hand accounts.
Across the river from Brisbane’s CBD is Southbank, home to Streets Beach. Since the city is located inland, there is no beach access; and there is too much river traffic to allow for swimming. Rather than forcing city-dwellers to go coastal, the city brought the beach to the dwellers. Located just off Stanley Street (hence the name), in the Parklands, is a man-made beach, equipped with sand, palm trees, and lifeguards. People of all ages congregate at the riverside pool to bask in the beauty that is the Australian Sunshine State, whether catching rays or enjoying a dip.
On Sundays, Southbank’s Parklands hosts a market. Vending includes: corn on a stick (a popular snack in Australia, it seems); hand-made jewelry, handbags, artwork, and bath soaps; back massages; and much more.
After a browse through the market square, a narrated ride on the Wheel of Brisbane, a smaller-scale London Eye or Las Vegas High Roller, gives a bird’s eye view of the city and its surrounding landmarks.
Four days is just enough time to see and enjoy Brisbane, but makes it incredibly hard to say goodbye to the ideal weather. Thanks for a last Sunshine State hoorah, Brissy!