Category Archives: Travel

Fraser Island, A Queensland Gem

Roughly 200km North of Brisbane is Fraser Island. A peaceful island listed on the Australia National Heritage List that is protected because of the islands significance to the country. Essentially, it’s an important landmark whose value is seen beyond just physically being there. I had the privilege of traveling to the island on a day trip back in November 2007. It was very easy to coordinate travel – booked a spot with the company, arrived at the Roma Street station and hopped on a bus that took us out to the island.

I admit to sleeping some of the way on the way out because it was rather early, but I was awake when we came upon the ferry that would take us to and from the island. Our bus drove right on and we were allowed to walk around and marvel at the scenery.

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Once on the island our bus took us on a ride. The vehicles are equipped to handle the sandy surface of the island and while there were, naturally, a few bumps along the way it was a pleasant experience.

Our first stop was to the Wanggoolba Creek and Boardwalk. A lush, dense area of the island that is surrounded by ferns and other native plants. It says that there is a creek there, and it’s there, you can hear it, but upon first inspection you see nothing. It looks as if it is just sandy, dry creek bed. When in fact, the water is so pure and clear that you have to physically change your perspective in order to see it flowing.

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Even now, I look at that above photo and wonder where the water is.

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From here we traveled up a sandy path to possibly one of the most beautiful places I have ever been, Lake McKenzie. It is a pure, freshwater lake that is filled only by rainwater. As soon as you step onto the main beach you hear the difference, a suction-like sound with each step. That is due to the pure-silica sand. The sand is what gives the lake its shine and glimmer. I was told that if I were to take the pure-silica sand and rub it on my body that it would smooth out my skin. It was an odd sensation at first but I could not deny that my skin felt softer and more refreshed after I was finished.

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Swimming in pure water like that of Lake McKenzie was unlike any other swimming experience I’ve ever had. There aren’t any impurities in the water, no animal byproducts, and no plant life of any kind because the lake cannot sustain it. When I opened my eyes underwater I could see forever. I still haven’t experienced anything like it since.

As I reclined on my towel, taking in the scenery, I knew that this was the perfect way to end the day on Fraser Island.

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Taking The Granddaddy For Granted

Five to six days a week I find myself standing in the shadow of the Rose Bowl and I stare blankly at its pillars and columns as I stretch my muscles before and after I run. It’s “America’s Stadium” yet feeling numb to the history and legacy that is The Rose Bowl almost makes me feel un-American.

Every new year brings on the Rose Bowl Game and it’s something that I have always looked forward to. I went because I enjoy watching football and going to the game. I never truly cared who was playing. This feeling enhanced once I got to college and discovered that my school cut football in 1992, long before I got there, even though they had won an Orange Bowl (1950) and two Sugar Bowls (1937,1938)…but that’s another story for another time.

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If I couldn’t find someone who had tickets I would end up going down to the stadium, cash in hand, and procure my tickets through another vendor – aka scalp. I was always successful. Up until yesterday’s game I had only missed one Rose Bowl game since 1999 and that was the 2006 USC v. Texas BCS National Championship. I chose not to go this year because I financially couldn’t. Not having a real full-time job doesn’t help.

But it was also due to game fatigue.

I decided I would rather spend the day in my pajamas, where the line for the concessions and restroom were much shorter and I didn’t have to spend any money. As it turns out, I missed witnessing a blow out. That made me feel better about my decision to stay home.

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New Year’s Day was all about the Game for me. I couldn’t care less about the Rose Parade. I wanted to watch football. Every year people flock to Pasadena from all over the country and world for this game. They come to see their teams compete in one of the greatest venues in all of sports. Throughout the years I have seen Michigan and Wisconsin lose multiple Rose Bowl’s in a row, Hall of Fame coaches, blow outs (Oklahoma-Washington St) and close games (Oregon-Wisconsin), a parade of Heisman Trophy winners, and a National Champion crowned in The University of Miami.

But it doesn’t mean much to me.

I first noticed this apathy after Ohio St beat Oregon in 2010. I was standing out in front of the stadium in my green Nike sweatshirt and apparently I looked sad enough to be consoled by a few Buckeye fans. I smiled politely, but didn’t tell them I have only been to the state of Oregon once. I then overheard a pair of them say to one another “We just won the Rose Bowl!” It was then that I looked up at the neon “Rose Bowl” sign, lit up in the twilight of that January 1st, and reflected that this place, this game, meant so much more than the value I placed on it. Maybe this can be traced to the fact that my university doesn’t have a football team so I am forced to look elsewhere to get my pigskin fix. Or maybe I have been exposed to the Rose Bowl Game for so long that it has lost it’s meaning.

I honestly don’t know.

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To some it’s their Mecca. To me it is just a stadium that I run around to stay fit and train for races.

 

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Getting Around Brisbane

I found Brisbane to be a very easy city to navigate. I chose QUT as my university to study at because it was a big city, but not too big, and it appeared to have a decent public transportation system. I was right. You can get around via water, road or track.

The most idyllic form of transportation is by CityCat ferry. It navigates the Brisbane River with ease and on, even a moderate weather day, it’s a great way to take in the city without the hassle of traffic. The ferry hops from both banks of the river and I found it a very efficient way to get around. The only negative is that there are some days when the water is being occupied by races, but those are few and far between and there is plenty of advance notice for you. Some call it a bit touristy but I found it more efficient to go from my apartment in Toowong to QUT via CityCat than to take the bus or train.

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Like just about every city in the world, Brisbane has a bus system. I found it to be efficient and just like a lot of other bus systems I have used over the years. There are some places that, if you don’t have a car, you can only get to by bus and that’s where it comes in handy. Other than that, there is not much else to write about it.

Queensland Rail, or QR, runs right into the heart of the CBD and stretches out to the airport, toward the coast and to the inland suburbs. I never encountered a problem while I rode QR, you just have to make sure you are on the correct platform (like most trains) or else you’ll end up in the wrong place. As I was getting bored with taking the CityCat to and from school, I started riding QR home and taking in a different view of the city. I would take the bus to Roma Street, get on the train and then get off at Toowong. It was very simple, and somewhat idiot proof to follow.

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Australian Rules

AFL, or Australian Rules Football, is an odd game. To the untrained eye it’s just a bunch of guys running around kicking, catching, passing and punting a ball that looks like a rugby ball. Upon closer inspection it’s an incredibly nuanced game filled with rules about taking too many steps with the ball before bouncing it on the ground, getting a “mark” on a player, and then kicking it through vertical posts (called the goal and behinds) for varying point totals (six and one respectively).

The game is particularly thrilling to watch, especially live, as it is very fast-paced and the players are in top athletic shape as they crash into other players, making spectacular plays on the ball. After the game, they let the fans come down and throw around their own ball on the field! People, young and old alike, are down there tossing the ball around, sending it through the air and having their own bit of fun after they watched their team play. It’s, and this sounds cheesy but it’s true, fun for the whole family.

I recommend checking out some clips on YouTube or go directly to the AFL website to learn more about the game. I’ll leave you with some photos I took at the Gabba watching my Brisbane Lions.

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Brisbane From Above: Mt. Coot-tha

Spend time on the ground long enough and you’re going to want to get up above everything and see where you’ve been.

I live by that motto, which I think I just made up, whenever I go someplace new. I try to get up as high as I can to look over a city, town, landscape, or whatever. Maybe that’s why I enjoy bungy jumping so much. I get to take in the view and then dive headfirst into it. Unfortunately, Brisbane didn’t have anything like that on top of Mt. Coot-tha.

I’d like to keep this post shorter and let the images speak for themselves.

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Once I navigated a winding road surrounded by trees as tall as some buildings, I came upon the observation area. Which, as you can see is a beautiful patio overlooking the city of Brisbane and the Brisbane River as you’re perched on top of the trees. On the clearest day you can see all the way out to the Pacific Ocean.

A great feature at the observation area is the tile work and plaque depicting the river as it starts from the ocean and snakes through the city.

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It truly is a must-see for anyone visiting Brisbane. It gives you a whole new perspective on the city and allows you to escape, for however long you’d like, the chaos of city life.

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