5 more weeks in Brisbane

Lynn & Mike ..around the world
Mike Drinkrow & Lynn v/d Hoven
Sat 10 May 2014 10:46
5 more weeks in Brisbane
We have been living at Dockside Marina, downtown Brisbane for the last 5 weeks, in order to complete a lot of boat projects and get ready to head north up the Queensland coast.  The marina is very close to the iconic Story Bridge – and we have a magnificent view of it – particularly at night, when it is lit up.
View by Day
bridge yello
View by night from our back deck
Brisbane is a very attractive city, which, like most of Australia is clean, safe and well organised, offering the residents a very high standard of living. There are public parks everywhere, including a huge man-made sandy beach with great swimming at South Bank. This area also has a multitude of restaurants, music venues, theatres, museums, etc.  We have been able to ride all over Brisbane on our bikes. What a fantastic city for cyclists, there are dedicated pedestrian/ bike paths everywhere, and most city office buildings offer showers and lockers for the many staff who cycle to work. They also have a bike hire system where you can pick up a bike and drop it off at another spot – helmet and all!.  There is also a system of river ferries (public transport) all through the city – from the high speed City Cats to the free City Hopper service that has a stop right outside our marina. It has been fabulous to just hop on the ferry and be where you need to be with no hassle at all, until 11.30pm!  The Autumn weather has been spectacular – hot days and cool nights.   Pretty nice place!  The only downside, is the cost of living –  very very high!  For example, a Take-away coffee is R50; a 700ml bottle of  ordinary gin is R350; a steak at a good restaurant is R500 (potatoes are extra) and so on.  Its tough on us poor South Africans, but not a problem for the Australians, who have one of the highest minimum wages in the world (over $16 per hour) They also have national health, excellent govt schools, extensive social welfare, reasonable income tax levels and only 10% sales tax. Easy to see why so many people want to emigrate here!
river to s bank 
City Hopper Ferry passing South Bank
beach  city cat
The “beach” at South Bank – great recreation area           One of the  City-Cat ferries:  It can move at 25knts
But the real reason we have been here so long , is all Mike’s boat projects – these have included:
Finishing the installation of the new Northern Lights Generator
Servicing the Air-Conditioning, the shower pump, the toilets, the washing machine, bicycles and the BBQ
Sanding and Varnishing the teak rails
Having the satellite compass battery replaced (sounds much easier than it was!)
Installing a new TV on a wall arm in our cabin, so we can watch local programs – great to get the news in bed!
Installing a new VHF radio
Rewiring the rudder reference unit and getting the second Autopilot set-up  (we had problems with this in the bad storm last year)
Having new windscreens made for the flying bridge
...and I am sure there was a lot more... as one job got completed he found another.
I have been doing my usual cleaning, foraging for food and cleaning act ..not too exciting at all. One funny incident was ordering groceries on-line, where I got my packages and kilos mixed up, and the truck arrived with 21kgs of potatoes, and yes, we are still eating them..boiled, baked, fried, mashed, chipped, etc – not so good for the no-carb diet!
We have also had good times with friends. Audrey Birkenstock from JHB came to stay for 2 nights, which was great -  she was visiting her grandchildren who live in Brisbane and made some time to see us too. Once again we have been “parked” next to Gray Matter (Norhavn 62) and have shared more than a few cocktail hours with them. We also cooked up a local seafood fest, with Scallops, Prawns and Morton Bay Bugs (tiny crayfish types) , which was delicious.  Many people live here permanently on their boats and are very friendly; for Easter we had a fun group BBQ on the dock. A few days later it was my birthday, and one of the neighbors sent over 2 glasses of Vueve Clicquot.
birthday   morton bay bugs
Birthday Bubbles                                                                        Local Seafood
Last week we met Rob & Terry,  who live in one of the villas on the river next to the marina. They took us to “The Gabba” for lunch and an Aussie Rules Footy game  – it was Mike’s first experience of the game, and it was a great outing.  For the uninitiated – this rugby type game is played with 2 x 18 players on a cricket oval – with much more running, jumping and precision kicking than the grunt and grind of Rugby Union.  The players can run up to 15km in each game, which has 4 quarters of 25mins a side. These have to be the fittest, most athletic team sportsmen I have ever seen.
the gabba   afl score
Crowd on the field after the game                                                        Sadly the Brisbane Lions eventually lost
But it is now time to go! Our plan is to head off north soon – will hopefully be updating the blog more often as we move towards The Whitsunday's.