17 October 2005 Brisbane

Train to the centre of Brisbane, a well-maintained and planned mix of modern and relatively old. We take the river boat upriver to the university area to see the range of buildings and then back downriver to the south bank, where there’s a whole artificial beach/swimmingpool for kids to play in.

There’s a motorway running the length of one side of the river, but it’s been designed to look like a graceful ribbon – part of a composition, not a utilitarian invasion (cf the M8 in Glasgow).

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Donnie and I went to the museum, which had a fun interactive section on predators – aimed at kids and really and excuse for some elaborate games. There was a giant robot funnelweb spider – about eight feet across and four feet high – and a robot snake you could direct with a joystick. It had a heat-sensitive camera in its mouth and a screen beside the joystick displayed something like what this snake would see if it was looking at you. The funniest one was about the duck-billed platypus (which I didn’t even know was a predator). To demonstrate how it locates its prey by sensing vibrations, you put your hand into a ‘platypus glove’ and feel around the floor of its ‘pond’ for vibrations, and try to take it to the biggest ones, thus giving it a decent meal!
Donnie and the snakeThe spiderthe Platypus

We then had a wander round the casino, most of which I couldn’t understand, and on the way home took a walk through some scrubland where ‘roos and other creatures normally hang out; we saw some joggers, some parrots and nearly walked into an orb spider’s web at face level (not a good idea).