Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Noosa & Brisbane

Finding time to blog these days is a bit tricky as I only have a day or 2 to see each city.  It’s raining here now so I figured I should make good use of the crappy weather.  I’ve now been to Noosa, and just left Brisbane, so I’m currently in Surfer’s Paradise.  Everyone told me how much they enjoyed Noosa, and while I did enjoy it, I probably wouldn't move there.
 Just wasn’t sure what all the hype was about I guess, but I spent my first afternoon on the beach enjoying some sunshine and reading a book and then spent my last (and only) full day doing an Everglades tour.  We took a boat up the river and across some huge lakes (some were a couple miles wide but only knee-deep so you could literally walk across them) and when we stopped for morning tea (I love that they adopted this British custom – coffee & cookies are always appreciated) half of the group hopped into canoes and canoed our way up to our lunch spot.  I made friends with a nice young British girl named Hannah, so we sat together on the boat and then were able to share a canoe so that was nice.
We enjoyed our trip up (or possibly down, the water was so calm we never could decide which direction we were headed) the river and luckily did not tip over at any point.  My trip voucher just said it was a lunch cruise, so I hadn’t worn a swimsuit and was a bit unprepared to go canoeing.  It was a lovely day and I ended up running into my tent-mate from Fraser Island on the beach later that night so it was nice to chat with her for a bit.  The coolest part of Noosa was probably the sandcastles that this guy named McCormick builds on the beach every day.
Valentine's Day Sandcastle

In Brisbane I had some lovely roommates for my two nights there.  Brisbane is on a river, and therefore do not have a beach, so they built a man-made one(sorta like Cairns and their lagoon) that’s very impressive and a bit like a waterpark; the way they have it all spread out with water features and a large kids play area and plenty of seating areas around – it’s quite nice.  Anyway, I spent my first afternoon in Brisbane on the South Bank Street Beach reading, and finally finished the book about Miss Savidge.  She really was a remarkable woman and if you can get your hands on the book, it’s a fascinating read.  I spent the evening researching interesting (and free) things to do on my only full day in Brisbane and came up with a pretty good list (thanks to Pinterest).  The next morning I enjoyed some free pancakes with my roommates Molly & Grainne (British) and Sharona (Belgian) before finally heading off around 11am (we were busy talking).  My plan was to work my way around the city, basically making a big loop so I’d end up back at my hostel.  My first stop was the Queensland Museum, which I quite enjoyed.  They had some very neat exhibits including one about bicycles and their history in Australia.  Another that I very much enjoyed was an exhibit on 3 recipients of the Victorian Cross (the pre-eminent award for gallantry. It is awarded for an act of outstanding courage or devotion to duty in the presence of the enemy).  I wasn’t allowed to take photos in the exhibit, but it reminded me of a quote I read once "Go through the list of Medal of Honor winners, Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force–it doesn’t matter. There are those who have earned that supreme honor by killing their enemies, and deservedly so. But most of the posthumous awards have gone to men who, above all, sacrificed their lives in order that others might live."  Private Paddy Bugden was awarded the Victorian Cross for rescuing a captured comrade, Major Bair Anderson for “fearless leading and gallantry in attack, and without hesitation and regardless of personal risk dashed forward and silenced machine guns which were causing heavy casualties” (London Gazette - Dec. 26, 1918), and Private Robert Beatham for conduct remarkably similar to Andersons.  I’ll admit that the short movie they put together of the lives and service of these three men made me tear up a bit.  They had the words to Capt. James H. Knight-Adkin’s poem, “No Man’s Land” printed across the walls, hearing and seeing footage of the conditions those men fought under makes the poem really hit home.  I’d have to do some digging (my quick Google search while writing this didn’t turn anything up), but the letter they send to the families of the recipients, they read it in the film, is quite moving and I would love to read it again.

After the Queensland Museum, I headed next door to the State Library for a little look-see.  It’s a fascinating building and after wandering around for a bit I decided to sit down and read the newspaper.  Molly had talked the night before of going to the movies to see the movie “American Sniper” and in that day’s “Courier Mail” was an article about the trial for the man charged with killing Chris Kyle, as well as the disturbing news of the Coptic Christians in Egypt killed by ISIS.  After the library I headed next door to the Gallery of Modern Art.  I didn’t stay long as modern art isn’t really my preference, but I did enjoy some Japanese exhibits and some Aboriginal artwork.

 Leaving the museum I walked along the riverbank and then crossed over to head down Queen Street, one of the main shopping “malls” and then over to St. John’s Cathedral.  It’s an interesting and beautiful church – it’s been in the process of being built since the early 1900’s and was only finally completed in 2009.  The woman handing out pamphlets and greeting was incredibly nice, and when I asked if there were any photos of the progress over the years she went and found her copies of the 150th Anniversary service handout, which had photos showing the progress (there was no exhibit showing the before and after).
 She noticed my inspection of some of the sculptures on the ceiling of the entryway and told me that they were all designed by school girls.  There had been a competition for designs among the local school children, and all the winning designs had been submitted by girls.  After visiting the cathedral I made my way to the Royal Botanic Gardens (I think just about every semi-large city has a Botanic Garden!) and wandered through there until I got back to the river and then made my way back across on another bridge and headed towards South Bank.  I’d read that the cinema in South Bank had really cheap student tickets so I figured I might as well check the price and movie times since I was going to be walking by anyway.  Turns out it was only $6.50 because it was a Tuesday night (in Cairns a movie is about $18 so this was extremely reasonable).  American Sniper was on at 6:20pm so I headed back to my hostel.  Luckily I found the girls in our room when I arrived and they decided we’d all go see it together, including Caroline (another roommate who is from France).  Seeing as none of them were American they had no idea it was based on a true story, and I unwittingly spoiled the ending for Molly on the way to the theatre by telling her about the newspaper article I’d read earlier that day.  The other girls were in suspense the whole movie thinking he was going to die on one of his tours of duty.  It was quite interesting to watch the movie on foreign soil, and being quite possibly the only American in the theatre at the time.  Seeing as I’d gotten teary eyed earlier reading about Australian soldiers I wasn’t sure how I would fare watching the movie, but I did quite well.  I just can’t help thinking of all my friends in the military, and all the soldiers I have written to over the years, when I watch current-day war movies.  I just appreciated that the showed why he did what he did - it was to kill people, it was to save people, he was a protector.  Anyway, we all enjoyed the movie and it was a fun night out.  Although it would have been great to have them all traveling on with me, I'm just thankful for the nice people God's put in my path so far.

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