Category Archives: Brisbane

CityCycling Brisbane

Oh so Brisbane

Oh so Brisbane

I was going to paddle with a local canoe club this morning but decided to sleep in then have breakfast with my partner instead. Besides, I won’t be able to paddle with the club regularly for a while due to my event schedule. But that doesn’t mean I lazed around all day. Nope, I went into the city to ride around on a CityCycle.

Themis guarding the new court precinct

Themis guarding the new court precinct

Crazy businessman statue

Crazy businessman statue

My partner and I are participating in the City Raid scavenger hunt / rogaine on 8 February. It’s an urban event that will be held in the city CBD. To help make the event a bit easier for us, I spent today mentally mapping as many of the city’s statues and historical places as possible. This will help us when we have to decypher the City Raid clues. And boy does our city have a lot of statues and historical places.

Hiding in the fig trees

Hiding in the fig trees

I also took the time to enjoy the scenery my city has to offer. We have ancient fig trees taking up a small triangular block at the wealthy end of town. They are almost defiant against the development and wealth that has replaced what was there when they were first planted many many decades ago. Back then, Eagle Street was dominated by Brisbane’s port but today it’s all top tier legal and consultancy firms.

A maritime river city

A maritime river city

From the fig trees I ride through the botanic gardens, stopping along the way to learn more about some more historical buildings. Buildings dating back to the late 1800s are tucked away between high rises, protected by the National Trust but almost invisible to the average passer by who is more likely to notice the sun’s reflections on the shiny glass and steel modern architecture surrounding the faded small heritage buildings.

Once in the botanic gardens I’m glad for the shade of the trees. It’s 35’C (95’F) so to say it’s hot would be obvious. But still, it’s stinking hot so the shade of the trees is luxurious. I ride out across to the southern side of the river, crossing the Goodwill Bridge (I’ve never warmed to that name). After finding a spot to part my CityCycle bike I take advantage of Brisbane’s man-made beach by taking a swim at Southbank. It’s crowded and I didn’t bring my swimming togs but I don’t care; I just jump in wearing my shorts. I am sure I sizzle a bit as my body comes into contact with the water.

Free deck chairs in the park

Free deck chairs in the park

I love that my city is becoming increasingly life friendly. There’s the beach at Southbank and BBQs scattered around the various city parks. And now, we have deck chairs you can sit on in the park at the end of Southbank Parklands across the road from the cafes and apartments. They look so enticing, especially on a hot day. And they are free to use.

The city skyline

The city skyline

I complete my day out by riding under the Kangaroo Point Cliffs where I have a great view back at the city skyline (the trees on the other side of the river are the Botanic Gardens). Usually, the cliffs would be teeming with rock climbers on the weekend but today it’s so hot that even the most hardened cranker must be waiting until the sun sets. Yes, we have outdoor rock climbing in the heart of our city. The cliffs are about 15-20m high with a mix of top-rope and bolted routes. Most are top-rope and the council has even provided anchoring bollards.

I had a brilliant day out. I feel like I’ve run a marathon due to the heat but I only cycled just under 25km. Though I was out in the sun for about 5 hours riding, swimming and studying the monuments, statues and historical sites.

Total: 24.92km bicycle ride on the CityCycle.

Multicaching in Brisbane

A clever geocache

A clever geocache

I was in Brisbane City today for the Variety Santa Fun Run and Walk so decided to do some geocaching and walking while I was there. I’ve found most of the regular caches in the city but haven’t attempted any of the multi- or puzzle caches so decided to do them today. A multi- or puzzle cache is one in which the coordinates listed on geocaching.com are not the coordinates of the final cache. You have to collect information from one or more waypoints to find the final cache coordinates. I have only done one each of the multi- and puzzle caches so today’s six was a big step.

I started the day with a simple regular cache outside the Gallery of Modern Art (photo above). This cache was located at the listed coordinates and was disguised as a magnetic bolt.

The Commonwealth Law Courts, Brisbane

The Commonwealth Law Courts, Brisbane

The first multicache I attempted started at The Commonwealth Law Courts at the northern end of the Kurilpa Bridge. The cache required me to note details from two plaques and to count certain statues. I then had to add the numbers I obtained using a certain formula to locate the final cache location. My GPS was affected by the surrounding buildings but I was eventually successful.

John Oxley plaque

John Oxley plaque

My second multicache started at the John Oxley plaque. John Oxley was the founder of Brisbane. As a city, Brisbane is still very young, having only been established in 1824. It became the capital of the State of Queensland after Federation in 1901. This cache required me to count the number of words in certain elements of the plaque before walking about 400m to find the cache. The coin I’m holding in the photo is a Geocoin. This trackable item has traveled over 31,000km from Germany to Australia and I’m currently holding it until I find a suitable cache to drop it in (todays were all too small).

Firefighter's memorial

Firefighter’s memorial

Firefighter's Prayer

Firefighter’s Prayer

The next cache started at the Firefighter Memorial where a plaque containing the Firefighter’s Prayer holds pride of place. Take a moment to read the prayer and perhaps think about the sacrifice firefighters make.

Cool sculpture

Cool sculpture

Centenary Park

Centenary Park

The Bard: Robert Burns

The Bard, Robert Burns

Former Premier Byrnes (do you see his bottle?)

Former Premier Byrnes (do you see his bottle?)

This multicache then took me on a 1km walk past some of Brisbane’s sculptures where I had to collect more clues. It took me past a really cool hand sculpture. And then on to Centenary Park, which is a small inner city park where I used to train with my high school track and cross-country teams because our school was across the road and didn’t have track facilities. Do you see the bottle someone gave to former Premier Byrnes? You might need to enlarge the photo. I don’t know whether Byrnes liked wine but someone decided to offer him a bottle.

Brisbane Dental School

Brisbane Dental School

My next puzzle cache was located up in Spring Hill near the St Johns Ambulance HQ but there was nothing worth photographing up there. On my way back towards my motorbike and final cache, I passed the imposing Brisbane Dental School, with it’s steep staircase and old facade (complete with old school street lamps).

Leichardt: One of my favourite explorers

Leichardt: One of my favourite explorers

The foundation of the Queensland Rugby Football League

The foundation of the Queensland Rugby Football League

My final cache of the day was a complex multi that required me to collect clues from three different locations and then to complete two stages of calculations to find the cache location. I enjoyed the history in this cache, which included my favourite explorer, Leichardt and the birth of the Queensland Rugby Football League (QRL). Leichardt was famous for exploring Queensland’s Darling Downs and Outback before he mysteriously disappeared. I’ve always liked to think that he escaped the hustle and bustle of colony life by living with Indigenous Australians he met on his travels. As for the QRL, rugby league is like a religion in Queensland. This tough full contact sport is almost exclusively a male domain. Unlike American football, Australian players don’t wear helmets and body armour. They just get out there and smash each other to try to prevent the scoring of tries (similar to American touchdowns but the ball actually has to be grounded).

Calculating the cache location

Calculating the cache location

I did a lot of maths today. This is an example of the process I had to use to find each cache.

I think this process of multi- and puzzle caching is great practice for adventure racing. While it’s not performed at the same high stress level as adventure racing navigation, it does still require me to concentrate while walking around in the hot sun. For example, I found my final cache at 12:45pm and had been on my feet since 5:30am when I parked my motorbike to go to the Santa Fun Run.

Total: 11km and 7 geocaches  found (6 multi- or puzzle caches)

Brisbane Koala Bushland Reserve and Buhot Creek Reserve

Pretty trees in Buhot Creek Reserve

Pretty trees in Buhot Creek Reserve

The forecast this morning predicted heavy rain and storms but I had no intention of staying indoors today. I am enjoying being back outdoors and walking is good for my recovery. So I wrote down some geocache coordinates in the Brisbane Koala Bushland Reserve and Buhot Creek Reserve. My route would require me to walk about 10km if I wanted to search for each of the caches I wrote down.

Brisbane Koala Bushland Reserve

Brisbane Koala Bushland Reserve

I started in the Brisbane Koala Bushland Reserve. The 2.5.km return walk to the geocache was mostly along bitumen trails that have been installed to make this beautiful park accessible to a wider range of people, including the elderly and people who use wheelchairs. The hum of cicadas was deafening, exascerbating the oppressive humidity with the way their sound almost felt like a physical presence. Not that I’m complaining: I quite like our humid summers because sweating makes me feel like I’ve exercised. Frogs added their song to that of the cicadas, especially as I walked through the low-lying areas and across the boardwalks. It felt like home.

 

Buhot Creek Reserve

Buhot Creek Reserve

Dam in Buhot Reserve

Dam in Buhot Reserve

After successfully finding the geocache in the Brisbane Koala Bushland Reserve, I rode my motorbike the 2km to Buhot Creek Reserve where I set off in search of another 13 geocaches. I came here earlier in the week and explored a few of the trails but today I had more time so I could travel further into the reserve. Buhot Creek Reserve is incredibly varied. It has narrow reed-filled creeks, lilly-covered ponds and dams, and black water swamps. It also has acres of thick lantana weeds, open bushland and thick scrub. I spent three sweaty hours exploring the trails and managed to find ten of the thirteen caches I searched for; the other three eluded me.

Geocaching scratches on my calf

Geocaching scratches on my calf

Other than the risk of seeing a snake, the most dangerous thing about geocaching is getting scratched up by prickled weeds and plants, and sharp blades of grass. This makes it quite a safe passtime for the whole family. Some caches are hidden near roads and trails, while others are located hundreds of metres off trails through untracked bushland. I found my share of such bush-bash caches today. I also took some nice shortcuts.

Fortunately, the rain stayed away for the most part. There were a few heavy showers but the area I walked in didn’t get any of the strong storms that the city expierenced. Not that I would have minded: summer rain is warm anyway.

Total: 10km walk and 11 geocaches found

 

 

 

Morning walk

JC Trotter Memorial Park

JC Trotter Memorial Park

I met with K from running club this morning for a walk at JC Trotter Memorial Park. K has injured her achilles so is also unable to run.

I played tour guide to K, who hadn’t explored these trails before. We had a lovely time getting to know each other (it was our first time meeting). The 4.5km walk was probably a bit too fast for my SIJ because I felt it afterwards but I don’t think I did too much harm (or at least nothing the physio wasn’t able to fix this morning).

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Walking trails in White's Hill Reserve

Walking trails in White’s Hill Reserve

I had an hour to kill between my walk and physio appointment so I rode my motorbike down to White’s Hill Reserve where I went for an easy 1.5km walk. I’ve never been to White’s Hill Reserve despite it being only about 30km from my home. I’m glad I went there this morning because it’s lovely. The reserve is hillier than JC Trotter Park so it will be a good place to add to my trail running regime once I’m back into it.

I found a geocache while there and still have about half a dozen left to find so will be back. I focused on technique while I was walking at White’s Hill. That might sound strange, given I was ‘only’ walking but I think that my walking technique will feed my running technique. My focus today was on short gentle steps, rather than on extending my stride (which is what I unintentionally did while walking with K).

Total: 6km walk and 2 geocaches found.

JC Trotter Memorial Park

Lakeside morning

Lakeside morning

After yesterday morning’s return to training, I was excited to jump out bed to hit the trails again today (though I my exit from bed was more a slow roll because my back won’t yet allow me to jump). Instead of returning to Buhot Creek, I went instead to JC Trotter Memorial Park. This little patch of bush is near Buhot Creek where I was yesterday. I was drawn there  by three geocaches that promised easy finding and plenty of walking between each cache. And the fact that I’d never been here before.

Ancient grass tree family

Ancient grass tree family

 

Nature's stories

Nature’s stories

 

Mmmm ... soft

Mmmm … soft

JC Trotter Memorial Park is delightful! It will be an excellent addition to my trail running when I am able to run again. But for now, it made for lovely walking. I think there’s plenty to see along the trails. There’s sculptural ancient grass trees that stand over a metre tall and look like little families. Mother Nature has written her stories on the bark of scribbly gum trees. And multiple varieties of grasses grow along the track, including some whispy long soft grasses that look like they would make a comfortable mattress.

The view through the 'window'

The view through the ‘window’

The geocaches I found were all large and easy to locate, unlike the challenging little micros I searched for yesterday. One was hilarious because it was a bucket with a toilet seat on top of it placed in a hollowed out tree. The tree had a ‘window’ in it, which made the cache look a bit like the small room we all have in our homes. The view through the ‘window’ was pretty and really encapsulated the atmosphere of JC Trotter Memorial Park.

I ended up walking 5.25km and felt good afterwards. I didn’t experience any pain during my walk, though I think perhaps it was slightly too far because I had some slight pain after I rode my motorbike to work (nothing like the pain I have been experiencing though). The really promising thing is that my calves and shins are still feeling great after my walks: no shin splints.

My physio is going to try to hook me up with a local guy who does chi running. I think it will be good to learn some new techniques in my quest to return to running and enjoy the sport injury-free. During my walk I tried to focus a little bit on keeping my body aligned and using gravity to my advantage. I tried taking small steps and having my feet land under me, rather than in front. It’s not a scientific approach but I’m just trying new things to see what might work.

Total: 5.25km walk and 3 geocaches found

Motorbike geocaching in the rain

Grasstree flower

It was raining when I woke this morning but I wasn’t letting that keep me indoors. I might not be able to run or cycle but I can still walk and geocache. I pulled my rain pants over my motorcycling pants and my motorbike jacket (which isn’t waterproof), and set off for a few hours of fun.

Flowering grasstrees along path

I didn’t want to travel too far because my son was coming over for the afternoon so I rode about 30km to Mt Gravatt where some bushland geocaches are hidden. I selected caches that weren’t too far from the roads so that I didn’t have to walk too far in my motorbike boots. The boots are not great for my injured back because they constrict my stride. But they do protect me against snakes, which is good in the Queensland summer.

One of the caches I found is hidden in Toohey Forest. As I walked to the cache I noticed the grass trees have been flowering. It’s rare to see this sight because grass trees grow slowly and flower rarely. These grass trees were still young so many didn’t yet have any trunks and just looked like clumps of grass with beautiful yellow flowers on long stalks.

Heavy rain at Holmead Park

By the time I found my last cache I was soaked to the bone. The park (Holmead Park) was starting to flood from the stormwater run off; making the day look like a true sub-tropical summers day. The rain was warm so being soaked didn’t bother me. Though I was glad for my waterproof pants because I draw the line at a wet crotch. 😉

I found five geocaches and two travel bugs, which I will take with me on my next geohunt, bringing my geocache find total to 392.

 

 

Geocycling in Brisbane

Climbing a tree to find a geocache

I shouldn’t have gone out today because my back is excruciatingly sore but my bike was ready at the shop and the weather was lovely. Besides, my back is most sore when I sit still; if I sit or lay down for more than 2-3 minutes I simply can’t get up. Don’t ask what I did to it because I don’t know the answer. All I know is that I’ve been in agony since Tuesday and that my physio squeezed in me in for an urgent appointment at 10:30am tomorrow.

Anyway, instead of sitting around at home today, I rode my motorbike into the city to collect my pushbike. Then I rode 29km around the city searching for geocaches before dropping my pushbike in my partner’s car (which was parked at her work) and riding my motorbike back home. I spent about 4 hours out and about, enjoying the beautiful city I live in. Oddly, my back didn’t give me any trouble while I was out for the day – though I can’t say the same for how it feels now.

A sculpture in New Farm

Moreton Bay Fig tree roots shooting down from high in the tree

Chickens in a New Farm garden

I started my explorations in Fortitude Valley before riding down to New Farm where I located five geocaches hidden in the maze of laneways in this old inner city suburb. New Farm has open parklands, ancient Moreton Bay Fig Trees with their webs of aerial roots, apartment buildings, and old gardens boasting fruit trees and the odd chicken.

The Cathedral that took almost 100 years to build

Brisbane Town Hall

From New Farm I rode into it’s neighbour: Brisbane City. The city was alive with people crowded in shady corners and sheltered spaces. It was delightful to move with the crowds, listening to the colours of the many languages being spoken and smelling the various cuisines being eaten. I cleaned up the remaining two traditional caches I haven’t yet found in the CBD area before moving on to West End.

West End riverside bikeway

Lunch: a healthy Grill’d burger

There were no geocaches for me to find in West End but I still enjoyed a flat pedal along the banks of the Brisbane River under the falling purple jacaranda leaves. My ears were filled with the sound of birds that have colonised this highly urbanised pocket of land, the ticking of my new freewheel spinning, the whir of my new semi-deep Shimano 501 rims and the crunch of leaves as I rode over them. I stopped for a well-deserved and healthy sweet chilli chicken Grill’d burger on the cafe strip. It had a thin grilled piece of chicken breast and lots of salad.

A quaint historic church in South Brisbane

Pelican statues on the Brisbane River

South Brisbane was next. Here I found three geocaches, which took me on a tour to a historic church and a pelican statue.

Waterfall at Roma Street Parklands

I finished my tour of Brisbane with a quick geofind in Roma Street Parklands. These parks are huge with different ‘outdoor rooms’ for families, couples and individuals to explore and enjoy. The ‘rooms’ comprise of mowed grassy areas (both hilly and flat), ponds, boardwalks and pathways, and planted gardens of all descriptions.

Total: 29km cycled and 11 geocaches found.

Brisbane Running Festival

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My right hand is numb and my fingers no longer move. I’ve been standing out in the cold since 5am and, despite the cold I’m having a blast.

It’s about 7am, and the marathon and half marathon runners are passing me in a steady stream. My hand is so cold because I’ve been holding it up to show the runners which way to go.

I never realised there were so many runners in Brisbane. And I know there are even more coming later in the 10km event and still more who haven’t entered the Brisbane Running Festival.

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I’m volunteering as a course marshal down at Kangaroo Point near the Brisbane Jazz Club not far from the Story Bridge. I am here to support my running club mates from Brisbane Bayside Runners and Walkers.

It’s a brilliant event and wonderful to share this experience with my club mates. I film each of them as they pass through. There are so many of them that the clip ends up being over 3 mins long after I put all the little sections together.

At about 7:15am I look up and see the silhouette bodies of thousands of 10km runners streaming across the Story Bridge. The sight is magical. I feel intimately connected with humanity and intensely proud to call Brisbane home. We must live in a brilliant city to have an event like this. All these thousands of people coming together with a shared goal: to enjoy a running race.

My club mates all run well. We are represented across all the events and throughout the field. We have runners who win their categories and one who came top 3 (maybe he won, I haven’t checked the results yet). We have a lady who just finished her first marathon and a few who finished their first 10km.

But most importantly, we have runners who just got out and gave it a go for the pure joy of participation. It wasn’t all about winning and, to me, that’s how sport should be enjoyed.

I’m glad I gave up a few hours to help with the event. It was time well spent.

Bridges of Brisbane bike ride

Set up for a long day in the saddle (photo taken when I got home)

Now that I’m training for ultra running, I need to work on my endurance. I know my body well and know that I will become injured if I try to do all my endurance training by running so I hope to get my body used to hours of activity by incorporating long bicycle rides into my training.

I learned a lot from my 100km ride last week so was better prepared when I set off on my 115km bike ride this morning. I took the tribars off my bike to give me more options for sitting upright. I used duct tape to carry sports bars and gels on my bike frame so that I had enough nutrition with me. I attached seat post bottle cages so that I could carry both sports drink and water. My 16 year old bike (with 15 year old tyres) felt so good set up that it’s no surprise my ride went well.

View from top of Gateway Bridge

I decided to focus my ride on the bridges that criss cross the Brisbane River. To start I rode along pretty Mount Cotton Road to Capalaba. From there I followed busy Old Cleveland Road to Chandler where I turned right through Gumdale. It’s the first time I’ve been through this small pocket of acreage and I enjoyed the quiet. Then it was back onto busy main roads until I reached the Gateway Bridge (while they are now called the Sir Leo Hielscher Bridges, like most locals, I still call it the Gateway Bridge). The bridge is about 80m high and 1.6km long. The views from the top are fantastic. I could see a long way east over the flat lands and out to Moreton Bay.

A massive cruise liner at Portside

After cruising down the northern side of the Gateway Bridge I rode along the river to Portside where I was hoping to collect a geocache. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get to the geocache because the Pacific Dawn cruise ship was docked there today. However, while I couldn’t get the geocache, I was able to admire the massive floating city; I can’t believe such a huge vessel can float.

View of Brisbane CBD from the Story Bridge

From Portside I rode further along the river through New Farm and then across the Story Bridge. I love the Story Bridge; it’s a beautiful steel structure and it offers amazing views of my home city. I love the way our murky brown river dominates and restricts the high rises but also accentuates their colours.

The Kangaroo Point cliffs

The southern bank of the Brisbane River is dominated by the Kangaroo Point cliffs. Once a quarry, the cliffs now form a massive playground for cyclists, joggers, roller bladers, abseilers and rock climbers. The city council has set up top roping anchors at the top of the cliffs and bolted routes have been established; right in the heart of the city. I used to climb here twice a week when I was studying law at university because our university had a rock climbing club that only cost $50 a year, including loan of climbing gear.

View of the Brisbane CBD and Southbank from the Kurilpa Bridge

I dodged the Saturday morning pedestrians at South Bank and made my way to the Kurilpa Bridge. This is one of three bridges dedicated to pedestrian and bicycle traffic; motorised traffic is banned from this bridge. The bridge is a strange and ugly design with poles and wires that look like spider’s webs sticking out of it. You can see some of their reflection in the photo above. However, it’s so wonderful to have bridges dedicated to pedestrians and cyclists that I certainly forgive the strange design.

View of St Lucia and Yeronga

After crossing back to the north side of the river on the Kurilpa Bridge, I rode along the northern side to St Lucia. Here I rode through the University of Queensland grounds to the Green Bridge. Like Kurilpa Bridge, this bridge is dedicated to pedestrians and cyclists, but buses are also allowed across it to improve cross-river commuting for people working and studying at the university. From here the views down the river take in old suburbs and parklands.

From the Green Bridge I followed the bends in the southern side of the river back to West End where I met my partner for lunch. She had to work today so it was a real treat to enjoy her lunch break together. It was also great to have a good meal after completing the first 71km of my ride. A healthy fresh burger with salad and lean beef was just the ticket.

After lunch I followed the uninspired but hugely functional V1 back down the freeway towards home. I was expecting to start suffering badly in this second stage of my ride but it seems my plan to eat every hour and keep hydrated was a good one. As I rode I focused on staying relaxed and not letting my ego get the better of me by trying to ride too quickly. I didn’t actually suffer at all on the ride. I even had the energy to cut firewood and have a 2km walk with my partner when she got home from work. It’s a great confidence boost for the coming ultra running season because clearly my body can handle long hours of activity; so long as I stay relaxed and eat.

Total: 115.50km @ 21.4kph. Average temperature: 17.4’C. Elevation gain: 1,104m. Burned 4,155 calories.Found 3 geocaches.

A short run for the soul

Sun and stars over the water

There’s an isthmus that leads from Wellington Point to King Island. It’s a 1.75km long sandbar that is only uncovered at low tide. The word isthmus is cool. A low tide of just 0.4m occurred at 5:42am this morning.

I should have been doing my Tough Mudder training session this morning but those facts about the King Island isthmus caused me to go to Wellington Point with two running club mates instead. And what a fantastic decision it turned out to be. With just moon light and head torches for visibility, the three of us crossed the sandy isthmus to King Island.

Moon reflecting on the isthmus

At 0.4m, the tide was unusually low so we accidentally started out on the wrong approach and spent a short few hundred metres running through swampy mud before we corrected ourselves and found the hard dry sand bridge to the island. We ran right past tiny King Island and out to the northern-most dry point of the isthmus before the sand turned to mud flats. From here we could see the bright lights of Brisbane, what we believe to be the bright lights of Tangalooma Island glowing off to the east and the television towers on the top of Mt Cootha.

That’s King Island across the isthmus

The run was just lovely. I felt like I was on holidays. When the tides are favourable I’ll come back again to take some more photos, find the geocache hidden over on the island and maybe even run a few extra laps of the sand bridge.

Total: 3.25km run @ 6:19 min per km pace. Average temperature 12.4’C.