Across the river, then, where we tour the old Government House, a lovely Classical Revival building with woodwork to kill for.


old government house

woodwork to kill for...

woodwork to kill for…

(Note the 1885-vintage Ubrique leather jacket on the suspicious-looking character who is casing the rare book display.)

more woodwork to kill for

more woodwork to kill for

We walk by the French Renaissance Revival-styled Queensland Parliament House,

Queensland Parliament House

Queensland Parliament House

then enter the Brisbane City Botanic Garden. which covers a large part of the point of land southeast of Alice Street.

The old logo of the Botanic Gardens

The old logo of the Botanic Gardens

The original park was established by Sir George Bowen, Governor of Queensland from 1859 through 1868.  Bowen also laid the foundation stone of the Parliament building.

The Botanical Gardens, which  are a beautiful place to stroll and relax, contain “many rare and unusual botanic species. In particular the Gardens feature a special collection of cycads, palms, figs and bamboo.” (Wikipedia), not to mention avenues of native Bunya pines as well as Cook pines, originally from the Cook Islands.

Bunya pine planted in 1854

Bunya pine planted in 1854

There are also things that by rights ought to be called animals but are in fact veggies.

Birdlike veggie

A birdlike veggie

Not to be outdone, real animals also put in an unexpected appearance.


best guess: Eastern Water Dragon

We plod on closer to the busy, chaotic center, admiring the modern architecture.

lovely modern architecture

lovely modern architecture

more lovely modern architecture

more lovely modern architecture

still more lovely modern architecture

still more lovely modern architecture

We finally arrive at the  St. Stephens Cathedral, a Gothic Revival structure that was completed in 1922.  On the grounds of the cathedral is also its predecessor, St. Stephens Chapel, which is the oldest Roman Catholic church in Queensland.

St. Stephens Cathedral

St. Stephens Cathedral

The Chapel is intimately tied to the story of a confessed murderer-cum-philanthropist, Patrick Mayne.   Mayne had apparently murdered a man and taken a large amount of money from him, but the crime was never solved.  Mayne used the money to buy a butcher’s shop, gradually becoming the richest man in Brisbane.  He contributed large sums to the building of St. Stephens, and confessed to his crime on his death bed.  The story is told in the book The Mayne Inheritance.

At this point, the tour is over.  We thank the guide, say farewell to our fellow tour participants and start heading to the Queen Street Mall to find something to drink and to continue to South Brisbane to retrieve the car.

There are many interesting things on the Mall.  We stop to admire The Reject Shop, of course.


We spend some time watching a very skillful street performer who balances atop a very tall unicycle while juggling three big knives.  He even performs the potentially deadly under-the-leg maneuver without killing himself or anyone else.Onward, then.  We hoof it across the Brisbane River by way of the Victoria Bridge, and soon we are reunited with our car.

It is time to call it a day and to proceed to the Giles residence in Sippy Downs, where we were graciously offered beds and moral support for our first night in Australia.  We know generally where Sippy Downs is – about 100 km to the north on the M1 Motorway – but getting there requires more concrete directions.  These we receive telephonically when we stop for gas at an M-1 rest area that also features, mirabile dictu, a McDonalds.

We slog through heavy traffic for a while, then finally break free and arrive in front of the Giles house without problems.

The House of Barkley

The House of Barkley

We receive a hearty welcome, not to mention delicious food,  then settle down to detail our adventures while having fun with Barkley the Ambulatory Hairball.  This is a good thing, because we are all suffering from acute canine withdrawal pangs.


Barkley entertaining Lisa

Barkley showing off his human servants

Finally, we receive instructions to the effect of “our house is your house,” yawn a bit and turn in.

It had been a very long day, and the bed feels marvelous…


About Michael J. Kubat

I'm a grumpy Czech-born clinical social worker who is vitally interested in the survival in the United States as a viable democracy and a beacon of hope for the rest of the world.
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