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After only a day in the city, Joe and I fell in love with Brisbane. We found it to be a warm and inspiring place, not only for the laid back locals but who wouldn’t find riding a CityCat (catamaran) on the Brisbane River a fun mode of city transport?
And as you can see, their winters are horrible!
We of course visited the popular Southbank area, where they have a fake beach and a creative array of water features for the kids. My favourite was this one, where each ‘scoop’ along the arm would alternate in pouring water on the excited child below.
I was excited to discover markets at Southbank, especially as they had the best selection of vintage jewelry I’ve ever seen! It was very hard to limit myself to buying just one piece. The quirkiest market stall we saw there was Churro Man. I’m not sure what was funnier, seeing the stall owner as a dopplegänger to his backing poster, or the fact I wasn’t the only tourist capturing this moment on camera!
Our first night of accommodation turned out to be quite risqué. We meant to camp at some showgrounds north of the Brisbane CBD, but got so lost in the dark that we never found the entrance gates. A security guard approached us at the back carpark, and informed us that we had been on the wrong side of the grounds and the owner had just locked the gates. Damn! However he recommended a small park nearby, where we could park ‘down the back’ and should be fine. Upon arriving at this dimly lit park, situated by a small stream that flowed sluggishly below a loud train-line bridge, we began to set up the tent by the glow of our car’s headlights. A man in his mid-40s suddenly appeared out of the dark, and gave us some local advice that a more discreet (read: out of sight) camping spot would be over the small ridge, down by the river. We gladly took his advice and slept undisturbed all night, apart from the thundering of a local train going over the bridge 500m away. We woke to brilliant, warm sunshine and a riverside view where I chatted with a local dog walker about her travels around Australia.
After all that excitement, I met up with Greville Easte, a Shelterbox Director and passionate representative. We chatted about many options for the fundraiser and he gave me contacts for many Rotary Clubs along my route to Darwin. He was also organised for us to stay with his close friends, Don and Brenda, who generously offered us their granny flat for a few days.
I caught up with an old friend of mine, Amanda, who used to live in Canberra and play Basketball with me for the Norths team. She also organised for us to stay with her neighbours, the Gollan family, who happily offered us a room to stay in for the remainder of our time in Brisbane. Yet again, the generosity of strangers, even in my own country, amazes me.
My last contact in Brisbane was Lasse Petersen, International Director for Shelterbox. He filled me in on the worldwide activites of Shelterbox and his experience on the ground as a Shelterbox Response Team member, as well as the Young Shelterbox project being run in the UK. I was impressed with their video aimed at educating kids about what is needed in a disaster in a fun and creative way. You can view their video here.
I’ll finish up with my most memorable meal in Brisbane: Chicken’s Feet at the Yum Cha restaurant. The Asian waitress thought she’d delivered them to the wrong table, until we assured her we had actually ordered them. Her eyes bugged out and she replied “but you’re Australian…”. Obviously it’s not a favourite amongst those not brought up on offal.
We spent a few days at the Gold Coast afterwards, to go to one of the theme parks. We chose Dreamworld as they had the best choice of adrenaline-pumping-G-Force-body-shaking rides.
The most unusual thing I saw at Dreamworld was this, situated outside the log ride (LOTS of water involved).
The big drop was the most memorable ride: a 120m high tower, where you are winched to the top, left sitting for what feels like forever (15 seconds) and then suddenly drop the whole height in a matter of 5 seconds. I love the rush, but as Joe is scared of heights this is how he looked before he got on the ride.
After the drop and the ride stopped at the bottom, I had to peel Joe out of the harness he was so shaken. This is the ‘after’ shot.
We also visited Jupiter’s Casino to see Jabberwockeez, one of the top Hip-Hop crews in America. Known for their signature uniform look of white emotionless masks and white gloves, which they all wear as a tribute to 1960s San Francisco strutting crew Medea Sirkas, their choreography is fast, fresh and executed with amazing synchronicity.
Our ticket that included a meal at Food Fantasy, with the biggest buffet I have ever seen in my life. We made a pact that we had to eat FIVE plates worth of food, and we only just made it to that quota. We only tasted a small amount of everything that was on display, and only half of the dessert section. Phwoar! Highly recommended. Though the buffet was the winner of the night, we still LOVED the show, as it incorporated a mimed acting element with much audience participation, as well as many dance routines dispersed throughout the show. To view a clip of a Jabberwockeez dance routine click here.