After the flood

23 Jan

So, up and onto a train…. I couldn’t book on line, so I had to get up, rush across to the travel centre, find it was closed, wander back, rush back across, book my seat (at a very elevated price compared to on line) then rush round like a lunatic packing and eating breakfast before rushing back with my backpack to check in. Luggage gets checked on these trains (actually, you don’t have to, but it’s easier than navigating a train carriage with my backpack).

sunlander

And so on to a relaxing train ride of some 30+ hours through some beautiful (not particularly spectacular, but really quite beautiful) scenery. Up in Cairns it’s quite tropical with banana plantations and pineapples growing… as time goes on it changes to become far more temperate (but still with the occasional palm tree popping up to remind me I’m not in England any more…)

Cairns to Brisbane (11)Cairns to Brisbane (9)

Although there’s a long, long way to go, the train seems quite leisurely about it – unlike The Ghan, there are no extended stops, but we don’t seem to be in much of a hurry, chugging ponderously through the countryside – and occasionally, it seems, straight up the main street in town, turning the train into a huge tram. Cairns has been pretty much free from flooding, but travelling further south the rivers start to look mch more swollen, and it’s clear that some of the lakes don’t really belong (it’s the trees in the middle of the lake that give the game away)

Cairns to Brisbane (5)Cairns to Brisbane (3)

I’ve got to say, I was a little worried about going to Brisbane after the TV coverage, watching bridges swept down river.. but the hostel assures me that it’s above water… and it is. In fact, at first glance, you wouldn’t think Brisbane had been flooded. The town is full of Saturday morning shoppers, and only the sight of concerts raising money for flood relief like this bunch (bands from ‘Weekend Warriors’ putting older musicians in touch with others to get together and play)

Brisbane (13)

and this charming mini duo out playing for flood victims too.

Brisbane (12)

Only when you look closely does it seem that something has happened – the river seems wider than it should be.. the ‘beach’ is closed, as is the tropical gardens. The bridge supports shouldn’t actually be rising from the water, should they? And why all the sandbags? While HMAS Diamantina seems to have weathered the storm OK, its neighbour wasn’t so lucky..

Brisbane seems to be putting its game face on though – perhaps it’s the sunshine. Certainly there’s a bit more mud on the streets than you might expect.

Brisbane from Train (2)Brisbane (9)Brisbane (6)Brisbane (4)

A wander round town yields some surprises though – including a tropical garden that i only found because I got lost…

Roma Park Brisbane (7)Roma Park Brisbane (2)

I take a look on the web at the local dance clubs and find that there’s a freestyle event tonight associated with the Brisbane club. I check Google Maps and Thomas Street is only half an hour’s walk from me. A closer check reveals that the web site hasn’t been quite as helpful as I thought. Thomas Street, for sure, but Thomas Street, Sydney.. over 700 km away. Oh well, nice try! I get lots of stick for being a lightweight and lacking commitment when I mention this…

Brisbane is a lot further south than Cairns but in the same time zone.. which means that sunrise is nearly over by 5:15am, causing me to wonder if I have my watch set right… fortunately, I have, and I’m on the Sydney train by 6:30.. snaking through more lovely countryside.. less tropical and more temperate, but craggier and more dramatic. Next stop Sydney and the last leg of the Australian adventure – and a reunion with my torch and some old friends…

Brisbane to Sydney (7)Brisbane to Sydney (6)

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