Nov 4th- 12th
We turned up at Christchurch airport for our flight to Bali, only to learn that over night a volcano in near-by island Lombok had erupted, the ash cloud was affecting all flights in and out of Bali for the foreseeable future. Check-in weren't too helpful, but that was only cause they didn't really know what had happened.
We had to think quick, we could end up staying in New Zealand for a while, which would be fine- except our one year working holiday visa ran out the next day. Or we could take the first leg of the flight to Brisbane (where we had a layover) but the flight was still departing in less than 2 hours, and we needed an Australian Tourist Visa, which is normally free but cannot be processed immediately, and especially not at 4am. So we paid $50 each for a fast track visa. We were quickly checked in and on our way to Brisbane.
But to do what? We hadn't planned on coming back to Brisbane, were we had lived and worked in 2011. We had enough money for Bali but now had to pay $64 pn at YHA (we got a free upgrade to private room), and were struggling to get our money back from our hotel in Bali. We did have plans to use our travel insurance but it was too much hassle. We were also in constant touch with Virgin Australia, who said they would be no update for 4 days, they came and went and in total we had 8 days in Brisbane.
During that time we went back to our old cinema to watch The Martian, wandered the recreational precinct of the Southbank on the Brisbane River, even going for a swim in at the beach to cool down from the heat. We found an amazing Italian called Vapiano's which served great pizza and pasta and the most immense desserts ever! Also I used a 'Living Social' voucher to get us cheap cake and hot chocolates at a new cafe 'Cowch' it was a lovely place on the Southbank off Little Stanley Street.
We also took in some of the sights in more detail than we did when we lived here. We took a ride up the iconic City Hall Clock Tower, which was free and there was also a guided tour, it is open from 10am to 5pm, 7 days a week. Tickets are allocated on a first come first served basis, you can obtain a ticket in person on the day at the Museum of Brisbane reception on Level 3. The Museum is also free and worth a visit, as it showcases the living history of the city.
The Clock Tower is 92 meters high with the observation platform at 76 metres. The views from the top were stunning, as the 1930's building is nested amongst the sky scrapers which are rising around it.
As the days continued we also decided to visit Australia Zoo- Steve Irwin's Zoo. We hadn't visited last time but are glad we made the effort this time. We could have picked a tour which would have picked us up and took us there for the price of $70, or we could do it ourselves and take the train from Roma Street Station to Beerwah (Australia Zoo) for an hour and half direct, for $19 pp return or with a 'Go Card' ($5 refundable deposit) only $13 pp, with a lovely pleasant train ride you then jump on a courtesy bus to the zoo, entrance fee is $59 pp on the door or online, but we went into Peterpans and got a discount, paying only $49 pp.
So $13 pp return train, $49 pp entrance fee = $62 pp
The zoo had so much to offer, we hugged koalas (I love, love, love koalas!!), fed kangaroos, stroked birds, and seen all possible species of animals and mammals. We had a great time and highly recommend it!