We entered the Brisbane area with one important item on our to-do list, get new tires.
Towards this end I called a member of our home motorcycle club, the GoldWing Road
Riders Association that lives near here. The association prints a book every year
listing members worldwide who are willing to help other members. I had written down
the members from Australia before we left and so I called Eric. He is a very nice
guy who said he would get back to me about a good place to buy tires. Meanwhile we
went downtown to look around in the pedestrian mall. We were coming from the north
and alongside the motorway (freeway to Americans) we found a Costco Warehouse. It
is a membership wholesale company that in the US sells tires.
Downtown we chose a parking garage based on the fact that it had height clearance
for our van. After wandering around the area for an hour and a half we paid the parking
fee of $57.40 for 1 hour and 31 minutes use of a parking space. The pricing was
listed at the entrance gate but the entrance gate was down 2 stories underground
in a one-lane ramp with no turnaround. The only way one could move was to take a
ticket and enter the gate. There was no way to change your mind and turn around.
Immediately going to the exit and leaving was going to cost $10.00. It was a ridiculous
fee but we were there so we parked and wandered the pedestrian mall and side shops.
We decided to have lunch somewhere else, after we left the downtown area to save
money on parking. We found a nice pub called “Bitter Suite” on the edge of downtown
and ate well there.
On the way back north toward Eric’s small town we stopped in at Costco and got an
estimate for new tires. It was just under $400 for Michelin light truck tires. We
called Eric again and told him what we had found and he said to go for it, that he
couldn’t beat that.
We had a leisurely time in Brisbane. We had several other things to do here as well
as get tires, get the van tuned up, go to the Australian Wing Riders Club meeting
and watch election results in the USA. We got the tires on Saturday. and met with
Eric and his wife Deb on Sunday. They run a home business and invited us to stay
with them; we accepted. Eric and Deb are great people; they gave us a room, fed us
and took us to the meeting on Monday (they are members). We got the van fixed on
Tuesday and watched the results of the election on their TV live on Wednesday. (Live
on Wednesday at 10:00 AM is about 4:00 PM Tuesday night on the east coast of the
USA.) The US news is not allowed to project a winner until the polls close on the
west coast, but Australian TV has no such restriction. About noon we got bored with
the constant blather coming from the newscasters and thanked Eric and Deb and left
them to their work.
Earlier after getting the new tires we took a drive up the Mt. Mee Road. It is Saturday
and all the bikes are out. All that we saw managed to avoid a crash but several passed
us very quickly in a no-passing area. We were going so slow that they could do so
in the space available. We may have a new bigger engine but it is still too small
to take us up steep hills at a regular speed.
At the top was a lookout that was full of bikes taking a break. We could see the
Glasshouse Mtns. to the north.
On Monday evening Eric and Deb took us to the Australian Wing Riders club meeting.
It was at a sports complex and was lightly attended. The meeting was more formal
than our chapter meetings at home. Afterwards most members went down to the main
floor and met and talked of rides, trips, clubs and anything else.
We really enjoyed talking with Eric and Deb. They have similar ideas and goals to
ours. Also nice was sleeping in a building with a nearby toilet instead of a van
in a campground. It is the first time for that since we left Jeffrey and Helen in
Lobethal two months ago. But it is time to get on the road again.
Wednesday afternoon we continued to follow the election results (Trump winning) on
our phones and went to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary on the southern edge of the
city of Brisbane. Even with my senior discount it cost $60 for entry and another
dollar for the small, thin guidebook. I think it should have been included for that
Because koalas are wild in the area, (there are warning signs along the road like
deer crossing signs in the US) they do get hit and/or orphaned. This sanctuary was
started in 1927 and has lots of koalas. They have families and males in separate
pens and juveniles in another as well as some just in the trees in the park.
Koalas are not actually a bear and are not particularly cuddly. They have sharp claws
and strong muscles to climb trees. For another $10 we could have had our picture
taken holding one. We declined.
Koalas are slow and mostly nocturnal. They eat only the leaves of a certain gum tree.
The nutrition in these leaves is so low that the koalas move slowly and sleep up
to 20 hours a day. The park employees provide the koalas with fresh branches each
day. They are stuck into pipes filled with water to hold them up vertically for eating
by the koalas.
This is a picture of three juveniles in the “Kindergarten”
Koalas are not the only animals at the sanctuary. Left are “Flying Foxes”, bats as
big as our heads.
Right is a Dingo.
Also a couple of Tasmanian Devils, and several snakes and lizards. The guy, right,
is the biggest of the bunch. The window is about 4 feet (over 1 meter) off the ground.
He wants out!
The kangaroo and wallaby feeding area allowed one to get right up to one without
fearing getting kicked or hit as a wild one would do. Right is a sheepdog exhibit.
There were three dogs but the youngest was the only one not scared of the thunder
that was in the distance. The two older dogs cowered in their shelters. This one
was still in training but managed to drive the sheep through the course laid out
for them. The sheep were a new batch and hadn’t learned the show to be put on, so
some of them were a problem for the youngster.
Since we left Darwin several weeks ago we have been told that the rainy season is
just about to start. We have been hearing that from everybody. All the way from Darwin
to Cairns and onward south. Well, it seems to have caught up with us! Our last night
with Eric and Deb was a loud and bright evening with thunderstorms and drenching
rain. Wednesday was the same. Thursday too. We were traversing the hills and mountains
of the Barrier Range during this time. Days were nice but the evenings were WET!
Friday was just drizzle. Today is Saturday morning and we woke up to thunder, lightning
and heavy rain showers. It is pouring as I write this in our van. It is predicted
to dry out for Monday.
But back to Friday. We went to the Glowworm Cave. It is a cave under a waterfall
in a creek. The waterfall has cut a hole into the rock bed and out through under
the rock face. Supposedly the glowworms are a larval stage of a fly. The larva drops
down short sticky strings and then lights its tail like a firefly (which is a beetle
that does it looking for a mate) to attract insects to eat. We didn’t see anything
in the cave but bats. Maybe they ate the glowworms.
The trail into and back out was about a kilometer long (.7 mile). It wandered through
the lush rain forest and was of more interest to me than the cave. Along the way
there were several of these threes that were gripped in the clutches of a strangler
fig. Various of the trees were in all stages of the life and death cycle.
A bird eats the fruit of the fig and deposits the seed on a limb or crotch of another
tree. The fig seed sends down roots to the ground. It lives on rain and rotted leaves
caught in its crevices until a root reaches the ground. Then more roots and more
roots head down until the tree is completely encased in the fig. The host tree dies
and rots away in the hot humid climate. The fig continues to send down roots filling
in the cavity left by the rotted out tree. Now the fig stands on its own producing
more fruit and seeds to repeat the cycle.
Here is one that didn’t survive the cycle. It looks to be nearly 2 meters (6’) thick
at the base.
Also on Friday we went to the Tambourine Forest Skywalk. Where we looked down onto
the rainforest. The walkway was as much as 30 meters (100’) above the ground.
There were markers telling the names of the various trees but no hint of what importance
they played to either the ecology or mankind.
The total trail was about 1.5 k (1 mile) with 1/3 elevated.
The trail returned to the earth on the far side of the valley and we could look at
the vines and lianas close up. On the left this one has big, bad thorns. The one
on the right has wound itself around a smaller tree until about 3 meters (10’) high
it moved over to a bigger, taller tree.
We have been in very mountainous country for two days. The van is slow up the hills
and slow down the hills to save on the brakes. We don’t need to have them fail! This
hill is 18% and 2.4 k long (nearly 2 miles).
The area is very popular with motorcyclists. We are passed regularly by bikers on
all sorts of motorcycles. Not all of them ride to the maximum safety. Some prefer
to ride to the maximum of their skill, and sometimes they go over it!
This sign tells of 11 deaths since 2005. That is one biker a year that dies on this
Next we are going back over the Barrier Range to the Outback. Only here the Outback
is fertile and covered with forests, farms and ranches. We see herds of thousands
of sheep grazing in green pastures. The elevation is around 800-1000 meters (around
3000’) and it is again like spring with flowers, flowering brush and green grass
alongside the roads.