November 22, 2008
We are still berthed at Dockside Marina located in the middle of the city of Brisbane. Towering over us is a set of 25 story luxury condominium/apartment buildings making up a large new development called Dockside. There are still some buildings under construction and units in the newest buildings are still for sale. All of this is located on a narrow peninsula in the Brisbane River called Kangaroo Point. The central business district is right across the Story Bridge, or, more conveniently, a ferry stop away. We bought a weekly Tranlink ticket that provides for unlimited use of the ferries, buses, and train within the central city. At AUS$23 each, it is quite a bargain.
Downtown is dominated by tall modernistic skyscrapers. There are restaurants and food courts everywhere. The densest concentration of shops is on Queen Street, a pedestrian thoroughfare with outdoor cafes and every imaginable type of store, including two underground supermarkets. On Thursday and Friday, we bought take-out sushi on Felix Street and then walked three blocks to the Botanical Gardens that front the river. After dining at a picnic table in the shade, we walked the length of the park and then crossed the river on a pedestrian bridge (Goodwill Bridge) to the Parklands, a beautifully park that stretches out for at least 2 kilometers along the south bank of the river. The Parklands contains restaurants and cafes, gardens, Griffiths University, the Performing Arts Complex (Concert Hall for the symphony orchestra, opera, and dance companies), the Museum of Art, an artificial swimming lake with a sand beach, and a gigantic Ferris wheel, among other things. The beach was crowded with mothers and children at one end, and teenagers at the other. We took a ride on the Ferris wheel, which provided us with an excellent view in all directions from the comfort of an air conditioned gondola.
The weather has been hot and humid since we arrived. As we noted in our previous post, the most damaging storm in 25 years blew through Brisbane a few hours after our arrival. There have two more severe storms in the past few nights. Having three storms in five days is very unusual for Brisbane, we have been told. The rain was torrential and by the time the third storm hit on Thursday night, there was serious flooding and wind damage. Roadway underpasses flooded trapping cars, roofs were ripped off houses, and there were power outages. The Brisbane River rose and flooded its banks to the north and west of the city. The river turned chocolate color and by Friday morning masses of debris – tree branches, logs, masses of green foliage, and discarded junk from the river banks upstream – started to fill the river. At the ferry landings and marina and other places where protrusions stick out into the river, this debris completely covered the surface of the water up to a foot thick, and birds walked out onto it. In the evening we heard something whacking the hull of Sabbatical III and went out to find that a large log had wedged between the boat and the dock and a huge mass of debris had collected behind it. As Laura held the flashlight, I used a large pole with a hook to move the debris away from the boat. Local boaters told us that they have never seen anything like this since the great flood of 1974.
Usually we are awakened in the morning by the wakes of the many ferries bringing people into the downtown area. This morning we slept in, undisturbed by wakes. It turns out that the river debris formed a hazard to navigation and all ferry service was cancelled quite suddenly at 6 pm yesterday (Friday) evening , just after we took the ferry back to the marina, and will not resume until Tuesday morning at the earliest. We had to use buses to get around today. The river is now eerily quiet, and the lack of roll from boat wakes which makes our time on Sabbatical III more pleasant. Our planned Monday morning departure for Scarborough Marina is unlikely to occur. With the river as it is, we would either damage the prop in a collision with some floating object, or overheat the engine as debris clogged the cooling water intake. We have had our departures delayed because of the weather many times, but never before because of debris in the water. On the bright side, this is a great town to get stuck in for an extra day or two, and all of this rain marks the end of a period of serious drought in Queensland. It is against the law to use a hose to wash a boat or water a lawn. Perhaps that will now change.