Queensland Museum, Roma Street Parkland, Fortitude Valley – Joel’s Journeys & Jaunts

After the unexpectedly dry morning, when I left the restaurant after lunch, a steady rain fell. I decided to continue with my plan from this morning of engaging in rainy-day indoor activities. But there was only one more museum on my list, the Queensland Museum, that I hadn’t yet seen. So after that, having run out of indoor venues to visit, I also went to the Roma Street Parkland and the Fortitude Valley neighbourhood.

I particularly liked Roma Street Parkland. Really, really liked it. But it would have been even more enjoyable without the rain. Sunny skies would have been even better.

There is a moral to this story. I’ll try to remember to relay it at the end of this post.

Queensland Museum

The Queensland Museum is in the same campus as the Queensland Art Gallery and the Queensland Gallery of Modern Art that I visited the other day.

A few of the butterflies in the butterfly collection at the Queensland Museum
A few of the butterflies in the butterfly collection at the Queensland Museum

Sorry, Queensland, but I wasn’t particularly impressed with this one.

On the first exhibit level of the museum there are a couple of rooms dedicated to insects.. But the interactive displays in those rooms seemed geared entirely to children. I’m all for educating children. Bravo. Keep up the good work.

But I’m an old man, not a child. So those rooms didn’t speak to me.

That floor also contains an amazing butterfly collection. Many of the dead, pinned butterflies are truly spectacular. (To be clear, all of the butterflies there are dead and pinned. Many of them are spectacular.) So, a lot of bonus points for that, Queensland Museum. Hey, I didn’t say I hated all of it, or even any of it. I just said that, on the whole, I wasn’t overly impressed.

This level also has a small room devoted to dinosaurs. Informative tests accompany the displays, but most (all?) of the displays are dinosaur models, not fossils. I know some of them definitely are models because they include skin. Skin doesn’t fossilize.

Even with the few skeletons on display, I know some are casts of fossils because the signage said so. But I’m not entirely sure they weren’t all casts rather than actual fossils.

This level also contains a water-filled case with a once, but no longer living giant squid. It’s really big, as one would expect an animal with “giant” in its name would be.

But its most amazing facet is its eye. It’s huge even relative to the size of the squid. (The way the giant squid lies in the aquarium, only one eye is visible. I assume, but I’m not sure, there’s another eye on the other side.)

According to the sign accompanying the giant squid, giant squids have the largest eyes of any animal species. Their eyes can be as large as 30 cm (almost 12 inches) in diameter.

The squid looked kind of macabre lying there dead in an aquarium, but the eye is amazing.

The next level up in the museum was blocked off when I was there. They appeared to be busy setting up new exhibits.

The next level above that, the top exhibit level of the museum, is primarily devoted to fauna. There’s a lot of taxidermy, including a display case with a lot of beautiful parrots that are very definitely dead, not sleeping.

(If the preceding sentence sounded weird to you please watch the Monty Python dead parrot sketch. The sentence will still sound weird, but also very funny.)

Unless I somehow inadvertently managed to miss whole floors and sections (something that’s very much within my ability to do), that’s pretty much it for the Queensland Museum.

Roma Street Parkland

I’ve never seen the Roma Street Parkland referred to as a botanic gardens. It should be. It’s amazing. And it’s very botanical.

Brisbane has a lot of very positive facets. But its parks probably top the list. And Roma Street Parkland is be among its best.

Roma Street Parkland is close to Brisbane Central Business District (which everyone here just calls the CBD), but it feels a world away.

Majestic, exotic trees line paths and create small forests. Exquisitely designed, meticulously tended flowerbeds dot the grounds.

A large pond with a gushing water jet fountain complements its surroundings.

Regular readers know I’m not very good at describing beauty. So I’ll include a number of pictures.

Suffice it to say I think the Roma Street Parkland is an absolute knockout. I spent a while wandering around. I would have spent a lot longer walking, and probably spent a lot of time just sitting and admiring it, if the weather had been better.

That having been said, I had the place almost to myself. I saw fewer than a half-dozen people when I was there. But at least one ibis appeared to be oblivious to the rain.

Fortitude Valley

The rain hadn’t stopped by the time I left Roma Street Parkland. If anything, it had intensified. I considered going back to my hotel and giving up on the rest of the day.

But then I thought, “No, I’m leaving Brisbane tomorrow. Who knows if I’ll ever be able to get back here? I should get some fortitude and push on.”

Having listened to the insane voice in my head, I decided to continue to one more place, Fortitude Valley. Where else could I possibly find the fortitude I lack?

Fortitude Valley is a downtown neighbourhood recommended in a tour book as an interesting area. It’s also home to Brisbane’s Chinatown.

I saw one interesting shopping street. But I also saw a lot of vacant storefronts and some filled with businesses that looked sketchy on other streets.

Chinatown gate in Fortitude Valley
Chinatown gate in Fortitude Valley

Chinatown isn’t much different. There were a few Chinese establishments, but a lot of empty storefronts. I wouldn’t have recognized it as Chinatown were it not for the ceremonial gate at one end of it and a dragon sculpture near it.

Maybe I just wasn’t looking in the right places, but, overall, I didn’t think Fortitude Valley was worth the walk in the rain to get there. Although, I recognize that the steady rain might have negatively influenced my outlook.

Fortunately, I ended up near the Fortitude Valley train station. (It’s a city commuter train station, not a long distance train station.) The Fortitude Valley station is only one stop from Central Station. My hotel is literally on top of Central Station, with a series of escalators connecting the two. Needless to say, I took the train to escape more of the rain when I returned to my hotel.

Moral of the Story

The moral of the story I mentioned above is never depend on weather forecasts. Never. Worship at the Church of What’s Happening Now.

I should have seized the dry morning and done this afternoon’s activities, the majority of which were outdoors, then. But I believed the forecast and decided on rainy day activities in the morning. Big mistake.

I’m leaving Brisbane tomorrow and heading to Adelaide tomorrow. I don’t know how much time I’ll have to do the tourist thing in either city, or if the weather will cooperate. So I’ll probably post at most one entry tomorrow, and maybe not even that.

ASIDE: Currency

I bought some Australian dollars before I left Toronto to head to Australia. I didn’t buy a huge amount because I figured I’d use credit cards and if I ran out of currency I could always hit an ATM.

I may go back with all of the dollars unspent. I’m on my fifth day here and I haven’t spent any yet. I don’t even know if they take hard currency here. I’ve exclusively used credit cards (via Apple Pay) everywhere.

It was hot and I was thirsty when I was in the South Bank area a few days ago. I bought a fresh-squeezed lemonade from a food truck. The person in the truck didn’t even ask if I wanted to pay cash. She just shoved the card machine at me to pay.

In the Commissariat Store museum today, where the admission was only $8 AUD for me, I asked the ticket seller if she’d prefer me to pay in cash or credit. She gently pleaded with me to use a credit card because it was a lot easier. So I paid with Apple Pay.

When I took the train back from Fortitude Valley, even though I used a ticket booth, not a machine, they took only cards, not cash.

And for the benefit of my American friends and family, all restaurants here have wireless credit card machines they bring to the table. So you will still have to listen to me complain about how backward your country is whenever I visit and a server takes my card away to run it through their wired machine somewhere in the back.

#Queensland #Museum #Roma #Street #Parkland #Fortitude #Valley #Joels #Journeys #Jaunts

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