brisbane river

My Annus Horribilis!

My Annus Horribilis!

In 1992, Queen Elizabeth II dragged a Latin phrase out of antiquity, and gave it modern prominence. I remember the speech well. When the Queen uttered the seemingly inoccuous Latin phrase, snickers (I mean – the smothered laugh variety – nothing to do with chocolate) went up simultaneously around the world. Did she just say Annus? Oh, wait, that’s Annus, with two n’s – right – got it. Given the events of that year, Queen Elizabeth had certainly endured her annus horribilis – or, ‘worst year’. My annus horribilis usurped almost all of 2010. Certainly not for the same reasons as the reigning Monarch’s annus horribilus, but just as horrible.

 

Horribilis or Mirabilis?

The year started okay, but took a steep nose-dive somewhere around the middle. I can’t account for how, when, or why, but it deteriorated rapidly.

While the ‘Annus Horribilis’ was unfolding, I kept thinking, “Something good will come out of this”. It became my Mantra. But while I was stuck in the middle of the ‘horrible-ness’ of the year, I struggled to really believe any good would come of it, no matter how hard I tried to convince myself.

I guess we all have bad days, but when a whole year falls apart at the seams, you know you have to do something different.

And that’s exactly what I did.

I packed up my car and drove

I left the city behind, and headed North-West. Away from the surf, sand, and Starbucks; the busy shopping centres and growing trend of ‘chocolate’ cafes, and from the friends I’d hung out with.

But not before kicking 2010 out, and welcoming 2011 in, with open arms. I don’t normally celebrate New Year’s Eve, but I did that year. I booked into a hotel in Brisbane, and watched the clock strike midnight over the Brisbane River, with fireworks lighting up the night sky and the water. As 2010 rolled out to sea, 2011 beamed over the horizon, and I knew things would be different that year.

A long way from home

Isolated – compared to the city I left behind – and yet surrounded by amazing people.

My sojourn in the bush began in January 2011 and was meant to last for six months, but six months turned into five years. Five years of isolation – time to reflect and grow; it’s amazing how strong you can be when you have to. And it’s amazing how your annus mirabilis can emerge out of the toughest moments.

The place that I was to call home for five years had no sand, or surf; no shopping centres full of trendy shops; none of the friends that I used to hang out with. And it was a four-hour round-trip to anything that even remotely resembled a city, or a Starbucks. But I loved every minute of being there. My annus mirabilis lasted the whole five years in that quiet little region.

Time to watch the grass grow

Going from a busy city to a small town gave me perspective – I found out what peace sounds like. When you are immersed in city life, you rarely stop to think about any other existence. The hustle and bustle of a metropolis keep propelling you forward, and you think there is no other way to live. And then you sit on your verandah, in a town of less than 2000 people, and listen to the grass grow outside your door. It is then you realise there are two sides: the noisy and the quiet – the busy and the slow – the near and the far.

After five years of the quiet, I needed the noisy – but not the noisy I had left behind. I wanted something in-between. The not so near, and the not so fast.

I found it in Murwillumbah, where I have the best of both worlds. The not so far, the not so quiet, and the not so slow, is right here in my own backyard.

A thirty minute drive to the busy and the noisy is easy when I want to be immersed in all the Gold Coast has to offer, including the sea, the sand and the Starbucks.

Now I am content to sit on my verandah and hear the muffled sounds of life around me – not the sounds of constant traffic – or the grass growing. Just the peaceful sounds of life – not intrusive – just there.

 My annus horribilis is a distant memory and has never been repeated. Now, every year is an annus mirabilis; each one gently rolls over to make way for the next great year.

Life in Paradise just keeps getting better.

Posted by Maureen in Blogging, 2 comments
Brisbane River Lights

Brisbane River Lights

When you find yourself in Brisbane at night, go to where the light shines brightest – on the Brisbane River. The lights from the buildings on each side are reflected on the water, providing a palette of shimmering colours. The Brisbane River lights up the dark night, while providing the best views of the city.

Words describe as much as they can, but the photos tell the real story. As often happens, I didn’t have my good camera with me on this trip, so the photos are opportunistic moments captured with my iPhone.

Tall buildings in background with Brisbane River in the middle of the picture
Ordinary buildings by day, become spectacular buidlings at night

Ordinary buildings by day become towers of magical colour by night.

The Fast Way….

If you have already eaten, or plan to eat later, then the best way to see the Brisbane River at night is to get onboard the CityCat. Stopping at most of the terminals along the way, the CityCat gives you the option of disembarking and exploring on foot, or staying onboard for the round trip. Either way, from a vantage point on the deck or a seat inside, you’ll be mesmerised by the light-show as the lights of the city buildings are reflected in the water.

Take the CityCat

The CityCat is one of the ferries that ply the Brisbane River. The Brisbane River is the longest river in South East Queensland and flows for 344 kms, from the Brisbane-Cooyar Ranges to Moreton Bay. As the river meanders through the city, RiverCat ferries link Hamilton at one end, to the University of Queensland at the other.

There is no better way to experience the beauty of Brisbane

Iconic structures of old, mingle with the new; each one significant in their own way. The lights from the buildings light up the darkness as they spread across the water, and light the way ahead.

From the dock at the Northshore Hamilton Ferry Terminal, Eat Street becomes a haven for pedestrians in search of local and International culinary delights. If you are hungry enough, you can leave the CityCat at Hamilton and take an easy eight-minute, flat walk to Eat Street. But you’d better bring your money with you as you will be overwhelmed by the choices of dining options at Eat Street.

From the water-side of Eat Street

Brisbane Night-Lights are Spectacular

Brisbane City at night is hard to beat, and the CityCat provides the best platform for viewing, and taking photos. There’s a Kodak moment at every turn.

You can see history depicted in the colours that light up the Story Bridge each night; the different colours represent an historical event or raise awareness of future ones.

The Story Bridge in all its splendour

And Then There is the Slow Way….

If time is on your side, then the best way to see the city is on the Kookaburra Queen, where you can eat, drink and dance the night away while viewing the Brisbane River lights. There is something special about being onboard the old paddle-wheeler: the sound of the wheel churning through the water; the romance of standing on the deck of this grand old-lady of the river; the food. It all makes for an evening that is hard to forget.

You’ll need to set aside about three hours for the cruise on the Kookaburra Queen. The trip will cost more than the CityCat. but the very reasonable price tag of most of the packages includes dinner and entertainment. With the onboard dance-floor primed, you can trip the light fantastic as you make your way along the river. And the light-show on the water provides the perfect back-drop.

And, back to the CityCat….

When you don’t have three hours to spare, take the CityCat, where the light-show from the Brisbane River lights won’t disappoint you.

It doesn’t matter where you start your journey, the CityCat will lead you through the magical wonderland of Brisbane River lights.

So, what are you waiting for?

Grab your camera and a couple of friends, and make Brisbane your next night out. Oh, and don’t forget to share the photos you take.

Posted by Maureen in Blogging, Travel, 0 comments