My Qantas flight from Hong Kong down to Brisbane showed how a business class seat should be done: 1-2-1 seating arrangement, admittedly in a smaller plane, with oceans of space, a dead flat bed and no clambering over legs by anyone. No funny rearward facing seats either. Much more conventional and much better. Oh, yes, and the food was some of the best I’ve had and I don’t mean just on aeroplanes. Qantas nosh is designed by an Ozzie chef, Neal Perry [Sp?], and was very fine.
Being on the left side of the plane, first of all I got to see turnip rise over the Pacific. Well, OK, it was the moon, really, but near the equator the not-quite-full moon had a flattish top that made it resemble a turnip. At our latitude we’re accustomed to seeing the sides of the moon missing, rather than the top or bottom. It looked quite strange.
After nine hours aloft, we landed at 04:20 and immigration went smoothly with the infernal machine even reading my e-passport. Well, second time, it read it. I now had four hours to kill waiting for friend #1, Roy, to arrive at the domestic terminal having done immigration at Sydney. I killed two of my hours people watching in International then transferred on the shuttle bus to Domestic to kill the remaining (now) 90 minutes. I was able to wait at the baggage carousel and he duly arrived, as did his luggage.
Formalities for a rental car were next and then we were off, at about 11:00. Heaven knows where we were off but we were off. Fortunately Roy has mobile data so Mr. Google helped us deal with the maze of arterial roads that appear to constitute Brisbane’s traffic system.
We saw no atmospheric evidence of the fires that are ravaging parts of southern Queensland. First stop was somewhere called the Koala Bushlands – Roy was keen to see a wild Koala. Unfortunately, Koalas were there none. Actually, there wasn’t much of anything but a couple of other Homo sapiens also looking for Koalas. Everywhere was very dry.
We change tack and headed for some water showing on the map. Several corrected wrong turns eventually had us entering someone’s Memorial Park. The park didn’t work ‘cos I can’t remember his name. As we clambered out of the car a 600mm lens approached the car park held by its owner, a birder, along with friend. They guided us down a track through some paper-bark trees where we did, eventually, find some rather unexciting water which was clearly much reduced judging by the drying, cracking mud at its margins. There was a handful of dragonflies, including one species new to me, but I had been more interested in what we thought were two different species of Ant-lion en-route through the nearby vegetation. Heaven knows what species this fellow is; for now Antipodean Ant-lion sounds good enough.
Once I looked at the pictures properly, I realized that my 2nd suspect was not a second Ant-lion but an Ascalaphid, a so-called Owl-fly – it has clubbed rather than hockey-stick shaped antennae. Once in our hotel with Internet, I found this character on good ol’ Brisbane Insects pages. It’s a Yellow Owl-fly (Suhpalacsa flavipes). I do like a nice Ascalaphid and this is my first Antipodean Ascalaphid.
Birdman had suggested another wetland which we tried later. It was certainly wet with multiple lakes (he called ‘em ponds but they do things bigger here, rather like Americans). What there wasn’t was much in the way of dragonflies. Neither of us could understand quite why, given all the vegetated water. We’re thinking that, being closer to the coast, as it was, the water may have bene brackish. Certainly it did not appeal to our main quarry. There were plenty of birds for Roy to aim his binoculars at, though.
Beginning to flag, we called it a day and retired for a shower, following which we fought Brisbane’s road system to find a beer and some salt and pepper calamari. Sally Satnav sent us several miles around a complex circuit to get one mile further south from our hotel, all because you can’t cross the arterial road and head in the right direction. Apparently. We were confused.
It felt like a long and quite difficult first day but, then, given the travel, early arrival and jetlag, it was.