2011 Spring Australia Erin Shetron External Programs

Exploring Brissie

Treasury Building and Trunk Show
I was warned about the drinking culture in Australia long before my trek here, but somehow I still find myself surprised at the frequency and amount my fellow Griffith students drink. Here, partying is a huge part of college (or general) culture. Back home, I thought “Thirsty Thursdays” were a stretch, and at Nathan campus we have “Thirsty Thursdays” as well as “Uni Pub night” on Tuesdays. That’s four nights of drinking if you include Friday and Saturday. Four. Out of Seven. My mind is blown.
That doesn’t necessarily mean I’ve been a total party pooper, I promise. Last week I did go to the uni pub, and I did dance the night away. I even ended up in a dance-off circle with break dancers- (oops!) Then, on Thursday night, my Aussie friends wanted to take us out to a casino in the city of Brisbane. That’s right, my first casino outing and the official start to my weekend city exploration. I have to say, the Treasury Casino was not quite like I had pictured. In the movies, there are always a few slow-motion shots of the star actor walking down the rows of slot machines (called pokies here), throwing die onto a roulette table, cheering in victory with friends, spilling drinks and laughing, etc. And they always have sunglasses on, there are bright, flashing lights all around, and it looks like an insanely wild time in general.

This is not how it went down. The casino was very quiet and very serious. It wasn’t crowded, and either no one was winning or no one showed it. The dance floor that I had hoped to spend the night tearing up was empty with the exception of one older couple trying to do the jig to Rihanna. Despite the lack of action, the casino was absolutely beautiful. The ceiling was lit to look like a star-speckled night sky, there was fancy blue and white lighting everywhere, and the general feel was very clean and sophisticated.  I ordered one drink to sip on for the night and watched my friends play black jack and pokies. After they lost one too many times, we called it a night by 11:30.

Friday and Saturday were spent in class, watching an amazing French film called “Micmacs” by Jean-Pierre Jeunet, and catching up on sleep. Oh, how I love a good lazy day! On Sunday, Evan and I were well-rested and ready to continue our exploration of Brisbane. By 1 pm, we were sun-lotioned, backpack-strapped, and on the bus.

Anzac Shrine of Remembrance

Brisbane is the cleanest, most unique, architecturally diverse, open, and downright beautiful city I’ve ever been to. It seemed like there was at least one architectural gem on every block, whether it was an old church, a small garden, a sandstone colonnade shrine, or a metal statue of a greyhound backpacker. And the weather was beautiful- breezy, sunny, and warm with blue skies and big, wispy clouds. Perfect.

After meandering about the city snapping photos, we stumbled onto a huge trunk show in Brisbane square.

St. Stephen’s Cathedral

Every first Sunday of the month, people pay $10 to bring a maximum of three suitcases and spread out their collection of goods for sale just out front of Brisbane’s massive Treasury building (the same building that holds the casino). I could have spent all day looking through the suitcases of clothes and the displays of jewelery, paintings, photographs, and knickknacks. Maybe next month I will! A few city blocks later, Evan and I had another great find: a 24-hour pancake cafe. As soon as we saw the sign, we had to check it out. The once early 20th century cathedral that is now the Pancake Manor is stunning. Inside, the brick walls stretch into vaulted arches from which medieval style chandeliers are hung. And even though the pancakes are a little pricey, they are worth every penny.

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