Australia was never on my list of places to visit, purely for the fact it is too far away and I am not a keen flier. As an animal lover I had never seen a real life kangaroo or koala so I thought about visiting Australia and after a lot of humming and haaaing booked the trip and flew half way round the world to see them.
I was really nervous in the days leading up to my flight,, especially as I had some stopovers and was not only worried about the flight but catching connecting flights.
My first flight was from Birmingham to Paris on the smallest plane I have ever been on. It was one of those planes where you could feel every bump and roll but I knew it wasn't far to Paris by air so knew it wouldn't be long before landing.
Once in Paris it was easy to go through security again to catch my connecting flight. I had some time to kill so spent that in one of the lounges before boarding the biggest plane I had ever been in, and which turned out to be the best for all round service. This was an Air France flight. The flight attendants were superb and the food amazing!
My next stop was Hong Kong with a short stopover, before boarding a Qantas flight to Brisbane. This plane seemed older and not as smart as the one flown by Air France, but the staff here literally bent over backwards to make sure everyone was okay, offering food and drinks throughout the flight and even giving us free pajamas!
We arrived in Brisbane just as the sun was coming up. It was quiet in the airport so getting through customs was quick and the customs officers were really friendly and helpful.
I'm not one for fancy hotels as I don't go into them to admire the decor or anything like that, so I had booked an Ibis hotel on Turbot Street. This hotel is right in the middle of the business district and really close to transport links, shops and attractions like the wheel of Brisbane, Streets beach, Roma Street Park lands, Botanic gardens (city - there is a bigger botanic garden up in Mt. Coot-tha, which I recommend). The hotel was really clean and tidy and the staff were friendly and helpful. I had an early check in and a late check out (at no extra charge).
It was Autumn when I visited in May 2019, but the weather was probably hotter than in the UK. I found Brisbane quite a family friendly city with plenty of activities and places to see.
I took a pre-booked trip to Australia Zoo, home of crocodile hunter Steve Irwin. (His friend Wes was there talking to some construction guys - they are expanding the zoo). I'm not really sure if this is the biggest zoo I have been to - Its definitely different than ones we have in the UK. When you go in you are greeted by keepers with animals and birds (snakes, koalas, parrots etc) and they have photographers with them so if you fancy a picture of yourself next to one of the animals you could get one for a fee. You could also pay to be photographed holding a koala and they do other things like meeting the giraffes and stuff like that.
My favourite part of Australia zoo was Africa. This is just beautiful. Its like looking out over a mini plain where the giraffes and zebras roam freely but the rhinocerous are fenced away discreetly next to them.
Another of my favourite experiences was going to the botanic garden in Mt. Coot-tha. Totally different to Kew gardens here, the glass houses were smaller but they had like a mini rain forest and the smells from there were just amazing! There are lakes and water falls, streams and gardens, band stands, picnic places and a great view of the city of Brisbane! Some of the botanic garden can be quite hilly but there were plenty of benches to sit on and just relax.
Back in the city itself, there is a smaller botanic garden which runs along side the Brisbane river. It's just as beautiful as the one in Mt, Coot-tha with flowers, ponds, birds, ducks, coots and even lizards! Again, lots of places to sit down and relax. In fact, even along the southbank area there were plenty of places to sit down and just take in the views.
You can hire bikes AND scooters (not the motor bike type) to get around in. There is some free ferries crossing the river as well as buses, trains and taxis. Moreton Island is not far away if you want to go whale watching or feed dolphins - the list of things to do is so long I didn't get the chance to do it all.
I can hardly wait to go back! Here are some of the photos I took ...