Getting to know the Brisbane River

The Manor Hotel

January 4th. After a delightful early breakfast held at the Manor Hotel, our students ventured through the rising city atmosphere of ambitious laborers heading off to their mid-week employment. The city became alive as we traveled through the network of city streets residing beside the ever flowing river of Brisbane. The Queensland University of Technology (QUT) brought a familiar touch of summertime at the University of Wyoming; it was beautiful, the perfect temperature and plenty of pleasant individuals. We began class with an ambitious discussion of our three assigned readings, equating our past experiences at the Museum of Brisbane’s 100% Brisbane exhibit as well as the constant overlay of an ever so unique landscape and environment. The true beauty of our first experiences in Brisbane may still be difficult to describe. Our assigned readings amplified the focal point of our interpretations of land, culture, and personal perspective as each reading held a unique color amplifying our palette of landscape understanding. We found comfort in deconstructing the three types of landscapes described by the literary works of J.B. Jackson as well as overhauling the questions we might have found while interpreting our readings. The classroom at QUT underlined the concept of modern academic architecture, as the layout remained shiny, new, comfortable, and futuristic. After our discussion, our class enjoyed a brief break to refuel with water and prepare for a beautiful lecture with University of Queensland doctoral candidate and Brisbane river flood specialist Margaret Cook.

Margaret’s expertise was invaluable to our learning.

We experienced a well-rehearsed presentation that touched upon our ideologies brought up within the assigned readings, as well as the past, present, and future state of the river. We learned of the implementations of two supplemental dams that bring life to the city of Brisbane through the application of river water into city usage. We observed the geographical reach of past flood areas within the city of Brisbane and minor communities around the city that have been drastically affected by the occurrence of a constant downpour of water and improper flood preparations. We observed the categorical data that deconstructed the profound short term and long term effects within the flood areas of Brisbane. We learned of many different social and political values that need to improve as well as past improvements that have shaped the landscape for the better. Margaret advanced our greater understanding of the internal and external effects of the landscape, the policy, and the governing forces within the city of Brisbane and the surrounding state of Queensland. After a comprehensive presentation embodying the core of our landscape study of the geography and city, we took a brief lunch break at QUT. Some students chose a quaint burger shop with layers of flavor to savor, while other students ate at the local student union with sandwiches such as an eggs benedict with a cultural coffee or British style tea.  After a wonderful lunch experience, we met back up at Old Government House on the QUT campus, with a brief view of unique architectural aspects. We traveled through the streets of Brisbane toward the CityCat water taxi speed boat transportation throughout the river with Margaret’s instruction and guidance. We observed the entirety of the city from the upstream end of the water taxi route to its downstream terminus.

Observing historic flood levels along Mary Street, Downtown Brisbane. (Look up at window height for the 1893 high water mark!)

While on our enduring journey along the river, we bombarded Margaret with an assortment of questions in response to our teaching of the social, political, communal, geographical, and economic welfare of the city. Cook’s response amplified our perspective and understanding of the vast improvements of the landscape within Brisbane. We viewed the highest points of the Brisbane floods from 1893, 1974, and 2011, and their effect upon the landscape. We viewed the original houses banked along the coastline of the river, identifying the original inhabitants of European society within the state of Queensland. Current inhabitants within Brisbane are required to pay a mandatory flood insurance to ensure coverage for homes located closest to the river. We ended our tour of the beautiful city river of Brisbane with a nice snack at an outdoor Australian pub right off the beaten trail of Brisbane’s waterways.We had a wonderful concluding with our guide Margaret Cook as well as enjoyable conversations with local Australians before traveling over to Toowong train station and heading back to the Central Station train stop and our hotel.

Riding the CityCat.

At The Manor, the male students prepared a wonderful dinner with a fully stocked kitchen from our trip to Woolworth’s grocery. We had a sautéed mixture of mushrooms, yellow peppers, spinach, garlic, and lemon olive oil with avocado and marinated salmon fresh from the seas of the Atlantic and tomato bisque garlic bread. While the female students cooked similar dishes of salmon using fresh garlic, lemon and salmon for a delightful meal. We rounded the night off with a peaceful evening of sleep and recovery preparing for a venturous day of exquisite adventure ahead! Each student received a wonderful night’s sleep of ten hours or more this past evening on Wednesday the 04th of January 2017. We have started off the New Year within a dreamy yet idealistic academic vacation.

– Sven


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