This may be one of my shorter posts and not because we haven’t loved our time in Brisbane, quite the contrary, in-fact we have fallen in love with the ‘river city’ and it’s typically Australian, relaxed way of life. It will be shorter, partly because I’ve left writing it until the last minute before setting off on our road trip and partly because we have been working so hard to save up for the road trip that there hasn’t been much time to do a lot of interesting stuff!
There have of course been some exceptions so I will do my best to remember and document these!
Shortly after returning from Byron Bay, we booked our flights home which, after so long away was a strange feeling, but we’re both excited to go home now which I’ve never before experienced abroad!
The excitement was somewhat dampened soon after as we booked a train from Heathrow to Chesterfield. The email I received from Trainline with the message “Congratulations, You’re Going to Chesterfield” really put into context the places I have been this past year and congratulations wasn’t the right contextual word!
Canggu, Cambodia, Cat Ba, Chiang Mai, Chiang Kong, Chennai, Chesterfield. All these places begin with the letter ‘C’ but one certainly stands out as a most uninspiring destination in comparison.
Luckily our excitement is more for the people we have left behind than for seeing Chezzy train station again!
Back in Brisbane, it’s spider season, with Golden Orb spiders, Huntsmen spiders and god knows what other spiders all casually hanging from their webs in the most unexpected places. Try sitting at a bus stop, choosing a nice song on your iPod and looking to your left to see a spider with 2/3 inch legs hanging near your head or stepping aside on a footpath so an elderly couple can pass. They don’t thank you, instead they look in horror as your foot is perilously close to a large arachnid.
I don’t think it bothers the Aussie’s much but I don’t know which of these spiders are dangerous and either way, would rather something that size stay a good few feet away!
With my steady work hours (finally) and Anna still doing her 40 hours a week, we decided it was time to choose a date and book our campervan for our road trip, especially now it looked like we could afford it.
Let’s see how long it takes for Anna to get annoyed with me in such a confined space!
Whilst juggling numerous jobs, I did have the odd weekend off to spend with Anna and the family and we usually took advantage of these by exploring the immediate areas surrounding Brisbane.
One such day, we set off to explore Mount Tambourine but got distracted at a large park. We had a BBQ and played around on the kid’s skateboards, me getting a little over excited by the recollection of my youth that I bought my own a few days later (been used about twice since)!
I was also in charge of looking after the kids for all of five minutes and I think I did pretty well as the picture below represents…
I’m very responsible and known for it too.
Mount Tambourine is known for being home to a cave full of glow worms, the idea was to do a tour of this but due to us spending a little too much time in the park, we missed the tour. Still, it was a nice day all the same.
The location of the city is great with numerous national parks, beaches and other smaller towns (Surfers Paradise, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Byron Bay etc) relatively close by. Despite Brisbane being quieter than Sydney or Melbourne, it has turned out to be a pretty ideal base for our stay in Australia.
The following week one of my favourite bands, Royal Blood, were in town and played at the Riverstage, a great outdoor venue in a natural amphitheatre. Brisbane’s taller buildings provide an epic backdrop to the stage.
Anna and I had another nice evening a couple of weeks afterwards when she found a free event advertised – ‘RomComs and Nom Noms’. As nauseating as that name is, and I hope it was penned with tongue firmly in cheek, I am partial to both a rom-com and food.
Arriving early so as to grab a good seat, we sat under a blanket and watched ‘Crazy Stupid Love’ on an inflatable outdoor screen. With a smuggled in a bottle of wine and an overpriced cheese board we were glad to have arrived early and bag a seat as loads of people turned up and mostly had to sit on the grass. We felt very entitled up on our foam throne!
Somewhere along the line I also bought my last packet of cigarettes (so far!) and despite one or two slip-ups, usually after a couple of beers and when offered one, I have been doing as well as I remember when it comes to stopping.
One night I did fail was in a pool hall, frequented by us an attempt to escape the Royal Wedding. I had been bombarded with accusations of caring about it for weeks – “oh you’re English, you must be so excited” “for what” “the wedding of course!” and so-on.
We figured a pool hall would be a ‘manly’ place where it wouldn’t be shown. After a few games and a few beers with Jim and Paula, low and behold, I notice a teary-eyed, heavily tattooed man staring at the TV screen, the event was officially inescapable.
The following day I had a shift at the bar which started around 10pm. I had been for a beer that day which turned into seven. I decided to try and call in sick but this request was denied and I was forced to go in. Somehow I got through the shift without incident but it was no fun, even in a bar!
Time went on – as it has a tendency to – and as I juggled more and more hours with my now-ridiculous number of part-time jobs and attending another gig, this time a local band called DZ Deathrays, I requested a weekend off to go camping.
My request was denied but with only ten days left in Brisbane, and a growing disdain for management at the bar which gave me the majority of my hours, I decided to quit. I figured that when ‘real life’ does inevitably start again, I may not have the chance to quit a job for such a frivolous reason and it was quite empowering.
The entire Brisbane contingent of the Hughes mob united and we set off that weekend to Lake Muggerah, another beautiful area not too far from Brisbane.
Overlooked by the great dividing range – just part of it to be truthful, the range starts in Papua New Guinea and ends in Tasmania – and surrounded by rolling hills, the scenic lake was the perfect place to camp for a couple of nights.
Making the most of my staff discount before I left, I purchased a bottle of rum, one of whisky and set up a cocktail stall on the first night. Pretentious/over the top as this may be, it was fun. So much fun that when I woke up with my head sticking out of the tent and the sun burning my face, both bottles had completely disappeared.
I would like to blame this on evaporation but it’s unlikely as we are now in the depths of the feared Australian winter where temperatures can drop as low as 4 Celsius at night. Don’t feel too sorry for me though because as the sun rises, it’s still pretty hot outside.
Aussie TV did make me laugh on the first day of ‘winter’ as the news reported “pandemonium as temperatures in Brisbane drop to ten degrees at night”, bless ’em.
The next day was spent playing football, rugby, riding bikes, walking and relaxing. It was a fitting way to spend one of our last full weekends in Brisbane.
The week following prematurely leaving my job, I had no work which was typical, all of my employers seemingly getting the memo that was only intended for one.
That week played host to State of Origin and Finn’s 13th birthday so was not without excitement.
For those who have never heard of State of Origin, Australia basically stops for it, and so it should, it’s a fantastic idea.
Annually, two teams made up of the best players from Queensland and New South Wales go head to head in three rugby league tests to demand bragging rights over their neighbours that year. Imagine how good it would be to introduce the concept of a yearly north v south football match in the UK, it would be huge!
Our last weekend in Brisbane, I met Anna after work and we went for a meal, a celebration of unemployment if you will!
Following the meal, we visited South Bank, a nice area of the city on the river which has been nicely renovated and is a popular hang out for the locals.
That night, there was a small festival on with some mariachi bands which made for good entertainment.
After dragging ourselves out of bed the next morning, difficult due to the consumption of wine the previous evening, we went to the park and held a birthday picnic for a lot more 13 year olds than you need in your life when hungover.
That night, I had a bar shift at the Suncorp Stadium for the Australia vs Ireland rugby match. The bar I was on looked over the large screen inside the stadium so I didn’t miss out on any of the action and even finished before full time so took advantage and watched some of the game from the stands.
Ironically, we have spent so long in Brisbane but only seen a relatively small amount of it. Despite this, it certainly has a place in our hearts and we’ll look forward to coming back.
We would also like to send a special thanks to Tim, Annie, Jim, Paula and all the kids for housing us whilst we have been here, it’s been life saving and we are really grateful for everything.