Travel: Holiday close to home with a weekend in Brisbane
THE lungs were starting to burn and the legs felt a little rubbery as I climbed the last few steps to the top of Brisbane's Story Bridge.
As the slow drizzle formed water droplets on the brim of my hat I looked up and smiled. Glancing at my fellow climbers I sensed a similar feeling of euphoria as we took in the panoramic vista.
Despite the sprinkle and the clouds, the view was still spectacular from atop the 74m bridge, which was opened in 1940. As we gazed around in awe I couldn't help but think what a friend had said to me when I announced I was heading to Brisbane for a weekend of fun and adventure.
"There's nothing to do in Brisbane. It's boring," they said.
The truth is that Brisbane has transformed (and is still transforming) into a vibrant, fun, modern city with much to offer.
I was in Brisbane for two days, staying at the central Capri by Fraser on Albert St, and never stopped having fun and enjoying many wonderful experiences. Let me share. On Friday morning, we visited Riverlife Brisbane, at the base of the Kangaroo Point cliffs.
I opted for the Segway tour along the Brisbane River while the braver members of the group went abseiling the cliffs.
It was my first Segway experience. After a practice run we were off over the Goodwill pedestrian and cyclist bridge and into the botanic gardens.
What a wonderful mode of transport. We were able to see more of the sights than if we had walked while having heaps of fun.
From there it was off to enjoy a splendid seafood lunch at Jellyfish Restaurant on its riverfront terrace.
Later that afternoon we jumped aboard the bus for the Hop On Brewery Tours.
A personal guided tour of some of Brisbane's favourite boutique breweries with the lovely Joslyn Erickson.
We did three breweries - Newstead Brewing Company, Green Beacon Brewing Company and Archer Brewing. I naturally sampled all the brews on offer, for research purposes.
On a buzz from the tour, we headed to Eat Street Markets for dinner.
At a former container wharf in Hamilton, this is a feast for the senses.
Apart from the fantastic international cuisine there are live performers and great views of the river and city. We were up bright and early on Saturday and enjoyed a delightful breakfast at Spicers Balfour Hotel's Balfour Kitchen.
Happily fed we were ready for the not-so-tough (hey, even I did it) Story Bridge Adventure Climb, complete with interesting information on Brisbane city and the construction of the bridge.
A planned helicopter tour of the city was cancelled because of the bad weather so we enjoyed a leisurely, extended lunch at the legendary Story Bridge Hotel, built around the massive pylons of the bridge. I must say the black angus was one of the best steaks I have eaten.
We were joined at lunch by Nick Cummins, aka the Honey Badger, who is the official party planner for next year's Brisbane Global Rugby Tens.
The tournament will be held on February 9-10 in a day-night format.
Speaking of rugby, the wonderful two days in Brisbane was topped off with a visit to Suncorp Stadium on the Saturday night to watch the Wallabies take on the All Blacks.
So, my friend how can you say Brisbane is boring? I was only there a couple of days and hardly scratched the surface of what this vibrant city has to offer.
The writer was a guest of Brisbane Marketing