Calamities, relations and nuptials
14.09.2012 - 21.08.2012 22 °C
Day 319: Brisbane, Queensland, Australia 14/08/2012
Quite a morning! Our early morning start and trip to the airport not going quite as smoothly as intended...
With the trusty iPod alarm set for five past four to allow us time to get to Bondi Junction to catch the five am bus to the airport, you can imagine our panic as we both wake with a start to find it is one minute to five. Turns out the iPod was on silent. I run downstairs (as best my stiff legs will allow) to try and hail a cab and in my haste I trip over the steps to sprain an ankle. With Gemma trying in vain to ring a minicab we have a stroke of luck as a cab comes round the corner with its light on. We just make it to the airport in time, at a cost double that estimated by the cabbie! What a start to the day...
We take our place on the plane without even time for a drink and exactly one millisecond after sitting down we both duly fall asleep. Wake up in Brisbane. Now our next obstacle is to try and get ourselves to Danny and Jaye's flat, where we are staying and also get a message to them without the use of a mobile phone...using the instructions sent to us by Noel and Zarn, we soon find ourselves in the right place but with the added problem of nobody being home. Borrowing a neighbour's phone we get through to voicemail accounts and soon find ourselves meeting Jaye on her own doorstep. Cue much relief.
After a quick spruce up the two of us spend the afternoon in central Brisbane feeling tired but relieved we even got here today. A bite to eat at a cheap noodle joint addresses the pangs for Asian cuisine and after a few hours strolling round the city centre we make our way back to the flat to meet Danny and after a nice tea and a glass or two of wine, we hit the hay. Knackered.
Day 320: Brisbane, Queensland, Australia 15/08/2012
A public holiday in Brisbane today, as it is Queensland's state show day, known as the EKKA. Shannon, who I have met before during his time studying in the UK, comes to see us at Danny's and kindly brings some delicious breakfast pastries with him. He then kindly gives Gemma and me a lift into the town and we find ourselves at the trendy South Bank area of the city, not too dissimilar to London's South Bank. A lazy day - much contrasted to some of the mad dash of yesterday morning - then ensues as we find a nice sunny spot on the river bank and enjoy a rather nice picnic...we are entertained by a few young lads showing off their gymnastic/martial arts skills and Gemma soon finds a mischievious crawling baby is wearing her sunglasses.
Later in the afternoon we take a stroll through the rest of the South Bank area, taking in the artificial beaches and the general buzz of the place. Brisbane seems a much nicer city than we gave it credit for yesterday in our zombified stupor and see it is a very pleasant city to spend a few days in. Catch the train back to Chelmer with the racegoers (EKKA is traditionally a big race day) and find much like British punters they are all inebriated and munching on fast food. Shades of Aintree or Ascot...
Day 321: Brisbane, Queensland, Australia 16/08/2012
A day seeing a bit more of Queensland today, and after Gemma puts together a nice packed lunch for us, we load up our Go! cards and jump on the train headed for the Gold Coast. The train passes through some places that definitely sound made up. Yeerongpilla and Moorooka spring to mind.
We eventually arrive at Surfers Paradise about three hours after leaving. Here are a few observations about Surfers Paradise: a) awful name - no waves; b) very built up; c) despite the sun it is pretty cold in August; d) the huge beachside buildings cast rather big shadows over the beach pretty early. Other than that though - and the resort's tackiness - we have a pretty good day dodging the shadows and avoiding the seagulls and watching a group of Korean tourists try to learn how to surf. Another destination ticked off the list and after a good dinner it is time to call it a day.
Day 322: Brisbane, Queensland, Australia 17/08/2012
Up early today, with our hosts taking us out for the day to Mount Tambourine. Promptly fall asleep in the car ten minutes after leaving. Arrive at Mount Tambourine to take in the great views of the surrounding areas from the point the local hang gliders launch themselves, as you do, off the side of the hill. Not for me I don't think.
A delve into the sub-tropical rainforest follows and taking the Witches Falls trail we see and hear some incredible bird life. A pademelon - imagine a small, slightly deformed kangaroo - then shows himself to us in the undergrowth and keeps the trekking as silent as we can manage. Some of us were made for stealth, some of us were not. I'll leave you to decide which category me and G fall into. Hint: we are not in the same category.
Head back to the car and by half eleven we are sampling liquers at the Mount Tambourine distillery, with a sour faced woman from Nottingham and a caricature Aussie producing these tipples. The local cheese maker and brewery are then visited and a delightful lunch of cheese baguettes and local beer is gleefully consumed. Back in the car then (cue nap), to make a quick visit to Yatala to see their famous pie shop and are stared at curiously for not having a huge meat pie and sharing just a small apricot job...judging by the size of some of these pie snobs, the shop has a fairly regular client base...
Day 323: Brisbane, Queensland, Australia 18/08/2012
Day of the Big Fat Aussie Wedding and we are soon meeting Luke - the groom - at Danny and Jaye's as he makes some last minute finalisations. A quiet lunch (sushi) is followed by a taxi to the venue - the Botanical Gardens - with a crazy Bhangra producing, very un-PC Indian cab driver who tries his hardest to sell us his album. Hmmm, maybe not.
We meet up with the rest of the Smarts and the Finns - good to meet all the extended family at last - and I am soon reunited with Great Aunt Peggy, who tells the story of her pushing my pram with such jubilation to anyone who will listen. A lovely wedding ceremony takes place in the exotic surroundings before we move on to the stunning mountain retreat for a wonderful reception, where the drinks flow at the same rate as the conversation and festivities get going. A funny night and we meet a lot of people I have heard of but never met, as well as some I have met long ago. Some of these were pretty drunk. Must be genetics!
Day 324: Brisbane, Queensland, Australia 19/08/2012
Not too shabby this morning all things considered and a nice breakfast with Danny and Jaye starts the day well. We head back to the South Bank for the afternoon, where some more of the wedding goers are congregating and so a wander round Sunday market follows. A few sore heads and broken dreams amongst the crowd means that a pub lunch is called for to shake some life back into a few bodies.
A quick tea and a Sunday night film is followed by the obligatory Sunday Skype before exhaustion triumphs and we sleep like babies.
Day 325: Brisbane, Queensland, Australia 20/08/2012
After a lazy morning and a lie in we think that we are home alone, before we realise that we're not, and we are soon enjoying a cup of tea with Noel and Zarn. To say thanks for their hospitality, we decide to cook Danny and Jaye as nice a dinner as we're capable of and a trip to the supermarket follows. Swinging by a Sri Lankan/Indian food store we are immediately transported back to the start of the trip by the sights and smells on offer - time travel through the olfactory glands!
We rustle up a storm in the kitchen, overcook some rice and say our thank you and goodbyes (they are both at work tomorrow) and prepare to head north to Townsville. Travelling through Oz with just hand luggage (our backpacks are in Sydney) packing proves to be a breeze. If only we could do the whole trip like this...