Brisbane Open House

Brisbane Open House is a free public festival that celebrates Brisbane’s architecture and allows the public to access and tours of the buildings. This year more than 80 buildings were open to the public including our new State Parliament building, 1 William Street.


We headed into the city and parked at Southbank under the Art Gallery before walking over the Victoria Bridge and heading down William Street. We stopped first at the Treasury Hotel which was previously the Lands Administration Building. We were able to join a guided tour of rooms and were given their history. It brought back memories for me as it my days as a search clerk with Commonwealth Development Bank I carried out a good deal of my work in this building.

Just across from the William Street entrance we then entered the Commissariat Store. The heritage-listed former Commissariat Store is Brisbane’s oldest occupied building and is one of only two buildings surviving in Brisbane from the convict period. It is of national importance as one of four Commissariat buildings surviving in Australia, and provides evidence for the building methods, skills and materials available at the time it was constructed.


The Commissariat Store was built as a two-storeyed provisions store by convicts using local stone in 1828–29. Penal colonies were run on a military system and the Commissariat was used for the procurement, supply and distribution of essential goods.A third storey of rendered brick was added in 1913 to accommodate its continuing use as a government store. Since 1981 the Commissariat Store has been the headquarters for the Royal Historical Society of Queensland.

Taking a long way round due to the construction for the new Queens Wharf development we made our way to 1 William Street, only to find long queues. Our interest was not worth a long wait so we headed back stopping for lunch on the way. After lunch we reversed our journey over the bridge and continued along the river bank and into the streets of South Brisbane and West End finding St Mary’s Catholic Church which was founded in 1892. Today it is surrounded by high rise apartments and density style living but retains it’s place in the community.

Our last visit was Peters Ice Cream Factory which today is an empty shell and will soon form part of the West Village development however the buildings are heritage listed. The self tour included a screening of interviews with former employees who spoke of the joy of working there.

The Peters Ice Cream Factory buildings will be restored to their former glory and will be the centrepiece of the new West Village development by Sekisui House Australia. During development, the Ice Cream Factory is the proud home of “The Bromley Room”, a unique gallery and event space curated by West Village artist-in-residence David Bromley.  On the ground floor, a school of construction is preparing young Queenslanders for careers in our $13 billion construction industry.

With very tired feet we made our way back to the car.

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Vancouver Aquarium – 11 September 2017

Today is our last day in Vancouver and the last of the trip. We fly out tonight (Monday) at 23:45pm and arrive home on Wednesday morning at 7:25am. Talking to our friends yesterday we all decided to go to the aquarium today to fill most of the day. We met at the intersection next to our hotel and walked the three blocks to catch the No 19 bus to Stanley Park and the Vancouver Aquarium. At $39 for entry it was not cheap but we hope to see animals we won’t see at home.


The ride was pretty easy and we walked through the park to the entrance arriving by 10:10. We wandered first through the Tropic zone where we saw some familiar fish and other sea animals but quickly moved to the Amazon Zone. It was very humid as you imagine it is in reality and we first saw birds before encountering other wildlife.

Heading outside we stopped for the Sea Otter show – how cute are they!!!!

We moved on to the Sea Lion show and later the dolphin show. These shows were not about performing like Sea World at home but more educational and all animals in them are rescue animals. We also saw penguins from South Africa which are much bigger than our fairy penguins.


Coming inside we were just in time for a 4D film narrated by David Attenborough about the sardine run in Africa before heading to lunch in the café. After lunch we headed downstairs to pat the stingrays and then see one of the penguins brought inside. We made our way back to the bus and arrived at the hotel by about 3:45 having had a great day. It was time to say farewell to our friends and start that packing for the airport. We have time for a nap, showers and dinner before heading out about 8pm.

It has been a wonderful holiday.

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Which Town – 10 September 2017

A sleep in for Glenn this morning but I got up and finished the blog catch up with my cup of tea. Our hotel provides continental breakfast so we got the lift down to level 2 to join other hotel guests. We are meeting our tour friends at 12:30 so we have a couple of hours free first.

Vancouver is divided into different precincts and today we will cover three of them – Chinatown, Yaletown and Gastown. Glenn and I walked to Chinatown after breakfast. On our way there we were met by some of the shops selling legal drugs here.


The Chinatown area is about six blocks from our hotel and we covered a large rectangle including the outside garden area of Dr Sun Yat-Sen Chinese Gardens. It is a peaceful oasis in the city.

We had a walking map and covered a good deal of the area and saw some of the paintings on the outside walls of buildings.

Back at the hotel we met our friends and wandered down to Yaletown and had a patio table at the Yale Brewing Company for lunch. It was $10 pizzas and $5 beers today and lots of pubs and bars had cheap beers advertised for NFL match day. I took a photo of one of the boards.

After lunch we separated as I wanted to go to the Art Gallery to see the exhibit – Monet’s Secret Garden. Glenn joined our friends at the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park where there rainforest canopy walks, a 450 foot span suspension bridge and a cliff walk.

I wandered Robson Street and did a little shopping buying a new bag for the gym, took some photos of Vancouver city street scenes,

visited the Art Gallery

and then wandered down to Gastown for some more photos.

My feet were so tired at the end that I caught a taxi back to the hotel and Glenn beat me home. Thank heavens we have our own food for dinner and don’t have to go out again.


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Back on Land – 9 September 2017

After an early cup of tea we showered and had our last breakfast on the cruise ship. We docked at Vancouver about 6am and I got some photos from our verandah.

All of that organisation paid off as we disembarked on time at 8:45am, picked up our luggage which was waiting in front of us as we entered the terminal, joined the queue, handed in our customs form and found the taxi queue easily. Again this was great and we were actually at our hotel in the city by 9:10am. There has been many new friendships formed over the past three weeks and we hope to meet up with some of the group as we travel around Australia. Tears and hugs were shared all round.

Our hotel for the next three nights is Rosedale on Robson and we have a suite with a kitchenette to make life easy and be self sufficient. We were able to check in and leave our bags with the porter, however our room was not ready yet. Check in in the US is 4pm and they suggested we come back around 2pm and the room should be ready. So in the rain we headed to the Yaletown dock which is about five blocks away and caught a False Creek Ferry to the Granville Island Markets. It’s Saturday morning so the market is filled with locals and tourists alike.

It is a bit like the Queen Vic markets in Melbourne with fresh foods and also arts and crafts. Our aim is to buy some fresh foods for the next couple of days and we find peaches, strawberries, fresh bread and also desert treats, cold meats, cheese and tomato and cooked chicken pot pies for dinner to reheat. With laden bags we find a spot to sit and enjoy fresh cooked Chinese for lunch before making our way back to the dock for the return journey.

A stop at Starbucks for a flat white (YES) and then the Urban Fair supermarket next door for milk and we are set. We’ve also checked our the Yaletown area as a possibility for lunch with our friends from the trip tomorrow and once back at the hotel our room is ready. The suite has a good kitchen area and small sitting room with a separate bedroom and bathroom. A great space for a bit of relaxation and with wi fi included I can update the blog. We are surrounded by high rise living and hotels but a look out of our windows finds this green space above the entry to the hotel. We did enjoy our dinner from the markets.


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Returning to Vancouver – 8 September 2017

We set sail last night from Ketchikan which was our last land stop. We are now sailing all day today and tonight to reach Vancouver early tomorrow morning. After our late night and moving the clocks forward it was a bit hard to be at our disembarkation meeting at 9am so only I went.

Kathryn explained the disembarking procedure and handed out new tags for our bags which have to be outside our rooms by midnight. Our group is Lime 3 and our departure time is 8:45am. We also received the customs form to make it easier tomorrow.

Overall it was a quiet day with only our visit to the spa for the massages and facial in the morning. We enjoyed an easy hot dog lunch at the Dive In restaurant by the pool in the sun and then watched a movie and rested till our tour group Farewell Cocktail at 3pm. Kathryn had some lucky door prizes and I won the Scavenger Hunt prize which was an Alaska tote bag and two bear shot glasses.

We packed our bags and are very glad we bought another extendable tote bag on the ship but have been able to pack one of the Travelmarvel backpacks in the suitcase so it’s not as bag as it sounds. We chatted with a group of Americans after dinner and then printed off our charges for the trip. Glenn went off to have a final drink with some of the men in the group and it was time for bed.

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Ketchikan – 7 September 2017

After predictions of rain we wake to find clearing skies as we sailed the Tongass Narrows. Our journey was so good that we arrived early in Ketchikan. After breakfast we bought tickets at the tour desk for the Lumberjack show and then met Kathryn again for a walking tour of Ketchikan which was a good introduction. Again we took our photos for the scavenger hunt and somehow had to add ourselves to this statue. Yes I’m the bag lady, just missing the hat.

We were lucky with the weather as Ketchikan is known as the rain capital of Alaska averaging 153 inches per year and has a Liquid Sunshine Gauge to prove it. We also walked through the Creek Street historical area where all of the houses are built of stilts as the ground was too rocky. This area is where the ladies of ill repute lived and worked and we saw this great sign.


There is also a salmon ladder to assist the salmon swimming upstream. We took the funicular up to Cape Fox Lodge for the last photo which is a meeting of various animals in a circle of totem poles. I hope the food in the restaurant was good because the coffee we lined up for and bought was the worst we have ever tasted and was thrown straight in the bin. YUK!!!!

Back into town we walked back to the pier as the meeting place and then headed back to the Lumberjack Show. Lots of walking today but that was not needed. The Lumberjack show was a fun way to spend an hour or so and our section of the audience was cheering for the US team who won the competition against Canada.

When the show finished we headed next door to the Alaska Fish House where I had Bering Sea Cod and chips and Glenn enjoyed crab legs. A little more wandering about and shopping for the end of season bargains before going back to the ship. The ladies from the on board spa met us as we came back on board with specials for tomorrow so it didn’t take much for us both to book massages and a facial for me as the reduced prices.

We had time for a rest before the tour group formal dinner at 7:45pm and a group of us then enjoyed the show tonight. It was comedian Chris Pendleton who was very talented not only with her comedy routine but also could play the fiddle. We had to put our clocks forward an hour tonight so with the clock striking midnight it was time for bed.

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Scenic Cruising in Glacier Bay – 6 September 2017

I woke early at 6am to see the sun just starting to rise above the small islands surrounding the ship. There is some low cloud and some grey clouds above and it’s quite cool this morning. Our cabin neighbour Mick is also up and we are both taking photos as the National Park rangers arrive for their day on board the ship. We will not disembark today but instead the rangers will educate and guide us as we cruise through Glacier Bay National Park.

Covering 3.3 million acres of rugged mountains, dynamic glaciers, temperate rainforest, wild coastlines and deep sheltered fjords, Glacier Bay National Park is a highlight of Alaska’s Inside Passage and part of a 25-million acre World Heritage Site—one of the world’s largest international protected areas. We were provided with the map in the link so that we could follow along on our journey today. The rangers will make announcements which we can hear in public areas and also in our staterooms.

We went down to breakfast later this morning and found the dining room very busy. Unfortunately we could not hear the announcements in the dining room and were very lucky to step outside on the Lido deck and go upstairs in the spitting rain just in time to see our first glacier of the day – Reid Glacier – on our port side. While some parts are dark from the silt washing down we can also see the lovely blue shining through. As we sailed past we also caught sight of Lampulgh Glacier although it is now more silt than ice.

Our ranger Cheryl provided a lot of information and also explained about the Johns Hopkins Glacier which has receded rapidly. The further in to the inlet, the more ice chunks we could see in the water around the ship and the rain became heavier so I needed to change my jacket.

There was a gap before our next glacier sighting so we split up until lunch. I made my way to the Crows Nest where the rangers were stationed and also where they were serving mugs of Dutch Pea Soup which is a tradition. This year marks 70 years of cruises to Alaska for the Holland America cruise line.

By 11am I made my way to the bow in time for our arrival at Margarie Glacier. One of few glaciers that are actually advancing, Margerie Glacier is about 21 miles long and 250 feet high (with a base 100 feet below sea level). The tidewater glacier has been growing roughly 30 feet per year for the last few decades, and has joined and separated from Grand Pacific Glacier over the past twenty-five years. In comparison the Grand Pacific Glacier is almost black from the silt of the mountains.


There was lots of photo taking but no way to stop the rain drops on the lens and we were lucky to witness the carving of the glacier about six times. I understand why it is called “white thunder” and was lucky enough to be filming when one occurred. The ship stayed in this area for about an hour turning 180 degrees to resume sailing. I hope these photos can show you some of the colour and majesty of the glacier.

By now my socks and bottom of my trousers were wet through so I returned to our cabin to get warm and dry. Looking out over my balcony this was my view. Not bad, is it??


After lunch Glenn and I went to hear the rangers speak in the showroom and then had a well earned nap before our Travelmarvel social at 4pm as we departed Glacier Bay. We rocked a little tonight as we entered the open water and luckily we were both ok. The dining room was however a bit empty and Glenn scored more than his share of lobster tails for dinner. We will be back in calmer waters tomorrow.


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