And so we come to the last day in this lovely (but humid and hilly) city.
This morning I headed out to Ascot. Before I went there, I went to Central Station to query something about my public transport Go Card.
I had to get it topped up to the exact amount of the price of a ticket from the City to the Airport (I don’t want to go one cent over as it’s unlikely I’ll use the card again) however she told me that I had made a mess of my touch on/off (apparently you have to touch ON AND OFF – unlike Melbourne) and it looks like I should have paid for a return airport ticket as it was slightly cheaper (by $4) rather than single way.
Oh well, the man who sold me the Airport to City ticket originally didn’t tell me this.
Side Note: I’m putting it out there that in my experience, males are too literal. Exact. They don’t ask questions to find, explore, discover needs to come up with alternatives or suggestions. Instead, many (not all) come up with one solution. The female at Central asked me LOTS of questions to ascertain how I was using the ticket, where I would like to go, what to do to use it and so forth. She was able to provide me with not only the most relevant ticket price but also she basically listened and asked questions. In effect, she customised the solution based on my specific needs simply by LISTENING to me and being PATIENT. The transaction happened smoothly and happily. Males in customer service roles (in particular, older men) are a at times, as little bit more impatient, direct and unquestioning. Of course I know that not all men are like this but it’s been mostly my own experience. This must be a lesson for me to follow my gut. If I’m seeing an unresponsive, curt person at the counter, not to feel guilty that I’m asking the questions but to continue asking openly, confirming, asking again despite the customer rep being visibly uncomfortable. After all, it’s their job.
Anyway, tickets sorted, I headed off to Ascot on the bus and the ride took about 20 minutes. Ascot seems to be a well to do suburb much like Brighton is in Melbourne and Mossman in Sydney. The strangest thing is that there were no footpaths being grassed over so I had to walk on the road. (Possibly because the rich don’t walk, only peasants do, as Harold Jarche on Twitter quipped?). It wasn’t too bad as I had a better advantage to spy the glorious homes.
It was a lovely ride along the river (I’m thinking ANY place in Brisbane is “near” the river) and I walked to 21 Henry Street to see Nyrambla, the site of Central Bureau, the code breaking operation during World War 2. I had to go see if for myself as last year I got into this history in a big way and talked about it in the blog posts below.
While walking I pondered how the men and women used to come here during the war. After all, wouldn’t the neighbours have SEEN the amount of women going into this property? I’m sure they would have been in civilian dress or maybe their accomodation was on the block or nearby? Still, wouldn’t anyone in the region have noted the influx of people going in and coming out of this place in the suburbs?!
I am happy to have seen this place although it’s a private residence now – I wish they had some kind of museum with all the coding gear but I guess they would have destroyed everything due to their secrecy status.
I had a bit of breakfast at nearby Ascot village before heading back on the bus and a short walk back to City Hall. I did a free tour there of the building with its beautiful ball room and lovely interiors then checked out the exhibition at the museum.
I was a bit slower today. I think I was running out of steam having walked a lot yesterday. Also the heat and some part of missing home already that I needed to think of what to do next. I didn’t feel like being around people so I headed off to the Botanical Gardens to sit under a banyan tree for a while and consider my next steps.
I think I was slowing down because I was also hungry so I walked over to the cafe in the gardens and treated myself to a juice and a huge green salad.
That perked me up enough to then think about the fact I HAD to try these purple e-scooters they have everywhere. So I loaded the credit card details, found a bike and off I went.
Within minutes I got the hang of it and was having fun zipping around back up through the city. However time passes SO QUICKLY on them that I checked the time and the bloody ride already cost me $8.45. It’s really a price gouge and I made the mental note that WALKING trumps these because it allows your mind to WANDER. If you’re on a scooter or a bike, you have to have your wits about you. I prefer my attention to be taken by looking at buildings, facades, sky, people, basically, life around me. So walking it is.
I walked back to Queen Street Mall (I’m still amazed by the CROWDS- it was crazy busy and walking around with a mask on meant that I could at least mentally think I was putting distance between myself and others). People coughing, sneezing – nope, I am not comfortable being around others and it’s always in the back of my head constantly fighting it that I seem to just swap and change. In some way, it’s like I’m in a losing battle BUT I’m not going to be defeatist about it such as saying “oh it’s only a matter of time before I get it!” Thing is, I don’t want to get it. It’s up to me to be safe for myself and to others despite looking ridiculous and feeling like a hypocrite. I’m not perfect.
I got myself a frozen yoghurt then walked up the hill back to the hotel. I had a shower, dumped everything into my back pack, did my airline check in and had got ready to leave tomorrow.
It’s been wonderful to spend these extra couple of days in Brisbane, a place that feels like it’s a blend of Melbourne, Honolulu, Singapore and London mashed up together. A place where bin chickens jump on your table to get at your food, and palm fronds fall on your head or in front of you. A place that has perpetually damp or wet benches; and people wear shorts, t-shirts and thongs everywhere.
I really wanted to learn more about its history and in the end, I learned more about the important part it played for the world in World War 2. I’d say that this is where they would have come into their own. Before the Americans came to this city, it would have been a sleepy, quiet, traditional one but being the heart of Pacific operational command meant the influx of Americans and all they brought. It would have been strange for the locals as well as for the Americans.
The only thing I missed out on seeing was the MacArthur Museum but I’ll see it next time I’m here. So a short trip to Brisbane ended up being my own World War 2 Military History tour. It wasn’t planned that way but I was surprised how “evident” it is with structures around town that are so obviously military in origin, monuments and stories.
So goodbye Brisbane. It’s been lovely but my home beckons. Besides, I want to put the heater on and wear my knits.