Settling into Brisbane

Settling into Brisbane.
Sitting in an outdoor sports-bar on last Sunday, I watched the Ireland Vs Italy 6 Nations Rugby game. I had to ask the bar man to switch to the right channel. No problem. Then he switched off a light that had a reflection that showed on the screen. No problem. Then two guys who were not looking at the game and were blocking the view changed places when asked .No problem. The only problem was a poor Irish rugby team performance !
I have been here now for just over a month. The above little cameo typifies the place. No problem means that people are co-operative, helpful and not defenders of their patch. Having moved into different cultures at various times in my life I am able to make some comparisons that are almost statistically valid. Settling into Brisbane would get a Michellin star and I would also say that the Michellin accolade of Ca vaux la deplacement (It is worth going out of your way) also applies. From earlier blogs you will know that we arrived here just with world-headline newsworthy floods. This has been followed by a mega Cyclone to the north of Brisbane. Neither impacted on us but being here for these extremes gave a nice insight to the culture of Queensland and Brisbane. On the day of the floods it seems that everybody that did not have a problem themselves,searched out friends who were in areas that were at risk. Apparently over 40 people were rescued directly by this citizen’s army. When electricity was cut, one of our friends put all her frozen food in a car and deposited it in a friend’s freezer, then moved with her family to another friend where they slept until power was returned. The owner of the “refugees Hostel” then called around and invited a gang over for a meal. Next day they were out helping others to move, or clear up a mess. Indeed 23,000 Brisbane burgers signed up on the city council web site as volunteers to help. In reality over 40,000 turned up. They were deployed throughout the city and delivered in public buses to work in an organised and systematic manner. Other went directly to get things done and when they had a particular problem where more manpower was needed they called the coordination centre and got a bus load to pitch in.
It was an impressive show of community commitment that has not been diluted by time, money, security and sophistication. And Brisbane has all of those things. It is a city of perhaps 2 million if suburbs are generously included. In the centre where I am living temporarily, there are daring high-rise 70 floor modernities intermingled with stone buildings that have dates on them back to the mid eighteen hundreds. These older buildings show that Brisbane has been a well heeled location for some time. But it has grown and grown. The biggest downside of the floods is that they destroyed a wonderful infrastructure of walk/cycle paths and jetties for ferry boats. But they will be repaired and the river that divides the city now will return to be the unifying artery that it was.
The weather is a change from Ireland/Europe. 28 degrees today and often it is that temperature when I go to work early in the morning. Occasional rain allows for weather conversation but better to be wet and warm than wet and cold! The culture/entertainment world was very quiet for the last month as the “summer” break dictated but tonight I will be at the first concert of the Queensland Symphony Orchestra and next Sunday is the first day of the super 15 rugby season that involves teams from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. Having found a house to move into next week and a car that is due soon, it is almost time to say the first phase of settling into Brisbane is complete.

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