Andy: We arrived in Brisbane, or Brissy as the locals call it, 2 weeks into our Australian adventure, straight from one house-sitting job to another. It was an easy 150km drive from John’s farm to the city in our little hire car and we arrived around lunchtime. Once we found the house and were trying to get in we could hear 2 extremely excited dogs waiting to meet us in the back yard. Either that, or we were their next meal.
The home owners live in a classic Queenslander style house which is raised off the ground to aid ventilation, and with that you get lots of storage space or a garage under the house. They look pretty cool actually. Their 2 furry friends waiting to greet us, or eat us, are 2 English Staffordshire Bull Terriers.
The home owners left us some notes saying that the dogs didn’t need walking, but just playing in the garden. The lawn was covered in destroyed tennis balls and rope tug-o-war toys and it was soon obvious how that happened. The 2 dogs, a 3 year old male and a 6 year old female are very different. They young boy is crazy and just loves to play fetch with a tennis ball. The problem is, he chews them so hard he very quickly bursts them. The older female is much more relaxed, and just chews a toy while lying down and relaxing. The boy is completely out of breath, but wants to carry on endlessly.
They both seem to like getting up early, and let us know each morning on the stroke of 4.30am that it’s time to get up! We were told by the home owners this might happen, and to just tell them to get back to their bed. This didn’t seem to work too well, and all that would calm them down was some early morning play time. So, Seda would go to the garden and throw the ball rather than face an hour of paws in the face. This is now our routine each morning, and then again before dinner.
Seda: These guys sleep in the bedroom, their doggy bed on my side of the bed! If I dare to attempt to get up for the loo or water at night, they start excitedly playing around my feet. I’m not even awake enough to find my flip flops but this guys somehow think “oh she’s up so we can play”! They constantly follow me around, lick my toes and start barking inexplicably out of blue and scare me to death but they have the ability to look all cute and lovable when they want to. I mean just look at this face….
I just love how they flop themselves onto the floor with a thud and let out an almost human sounding, audible deep sigh.
Andy: After a couple of days of exploring locally, we thought it was about time we took a trip a bit further afield. It is possible to enjoy many sites for free in Brisbane which we really appreciate. The last day we had the hire car, we drove to Mount Coot-tha Botanical Gardens and spent a few hours there. What an amazing place, and all for free. There are many parts to the gardens including…
Fruits and vegetables, cacti and tropical gardens…
Temperate garden and lakes…
Bamboo forests and Japanese gardens…
Rainforest and of course the obligatory coffee shop.
We obviously don’t stay out too long because our 2 friends back where we house-sit really appreciate our company and we find a few hours of sightseeing plenty to see many sides of the city. In the evening we thought we’d try one of the local pubs which the home owners had recommended to us. This was our first proper night out in an Aussie pub and we were looking forward to it. I’d wanted to try VB Bitter for years as I’d always seen it advertised at cricket grounds etc. I was quite disappointed to discover it was just normal lager, just like everything else! So, I just stuck to what was cheapest, while Seda sipped her – still cheaper than in the UK – wine.
At first we sat outside as there was a nice breeze, but that was interrupted somewhat by a drunk man trying to climb into a shopping trolley, all whilst holding his drink. Needless to say he made it into the trolley, but at the cost of wearing most of his drink! We quickly moved inside to find yet more peculiarities. There was a jukebox from the 1980s, and one end of the pub was also a bookies.
As we walked back to the house later on – we didn’t quite make it to the 4am closing time, it was more like 9pm – we saw the houses decorated with Christmas trees and fairy lights. It was about 20 degrees at night which makes it very difficult to get into the Christmas mood. This is going to take some getting used to.
After returning the hire car the next morning, we took a train into the city centre for the first time. As we got our tickets we even saw the station office had been decorated. There was a rather jolly Santa – esque chap manning the ticket office who was happy to talk all things railway whilst we waited for our train.
Seda: We got off at South Bank in the heart of the city on the banks of the Brisbane river. The South Bank Grand Arbour is a kilometre long walkway covered with a beautiful begonville canopy and runs the length of the park.
South Bank is designed very cleverly allowing the public to enjoy a range of activities from swimming to shopping, from walking in the rainforest to visiting the Nepal Peace Pagoda. The Wheel of Brisbane is next and is surrounded by restaurants, shops and bars. It is all very impressive I have to say. Seeing so many locals enjoy the Streets Beach, playing with their kids or enjoying sunbathing, right there in the city. If you are in between meetings and looking to grab a bite in your best suit, be prepared to face people walking towards you in bikinis and shorts carrying their towels on their shoulders!
Brisbane is full of places to go and spend a few hours having a drink or something to eat. An excellent example of this is Eat Street on the north bank of the Brisbane river. It’s a quirky place where all the food and drink stalls are housed in old shipping containers which looks really cool. There was even a stage with an awesome band playing jolly good country music, which seems really popular in Australia. I got some great country dance moves which are pending some practice with Andy, just until he has a few nice Australian beers.
Andy: When we got back to the house that afternoon it soon became obvious that the owners had miscalculated the amount of food needed for these ever hungry dogs. They had so kindly portioned and bagged it all up for us, except they had only done half of what was needed for the week. Cue us two rolling up our sleeves preparing doggy dinners – which are rather gourmet I must say. These pampered pooches get kangaroo mince, broccoli, peas, beans and quinoa would you believe! They eat better than us.
Well, all that energy must be coming from somewhere!
If you think, “oh it must be easy staying in somebody’s house and just looking after their pets” but think again…