Monday 6th January
Firstly apologies for the length of the last few blogs. I think the length really does reflect just how much mum and I fitted in. Not that the upcoming weeks are going to be any less relentless. Therefore a day of downtime was crucial before I left for the Sunshine Coast.
Not that downtime meant resting – as usual the tasks had built up one of which was to collect my sleeping bag from Victoria because I’d read it was needed for Moreton Island. That was arranged for the afternoon so in the morning I brought myself a new UV filter for the camera and did what I always have to do after a week of activities – laundry.
After making my way to the suburbs of Sydney to collect my sleeping bag I returned to the hostel. Due to the number of people in the room it hadn’t been possible to charge any of my electrical items as everyone uses adapters so although they made 8 available in reality only 4 could be used. Finding a socket in the lounge I therefore set up camp there using the time to start catching up on my blog and when I got weary of that to continue forming the final part of my journey in Australia.
I knew I wouldn’t be able to see the whole West Coast from Perth to Darwin via Broome as it is the tropical season up that side of the country. I did however notice I could potentially fit in a 5 day trip to Exmouth and use a spare day to fly to Darwin before commencing my trip round Kakadu before heading right through the centre back to Adelaide via Alice Springs. It was perfect in theory. I had however made a fundamental error. When checking flights I’d made the search Exmouth to Perth (not to Darwin) and despite appearing distance wise to be closer to Darwin the shortest route found was going to take 24 hours via Brisbane and would cost over $700. There were only direct flights to Perth and no direct flights from Perth to Darwin in the afternoon. Luckily I was able to find a cheapish work around though it means I’d have a stop over in Perth and have to cut my trip short by half a day.
Mum being around had rejuvenated me a bit and I realised i’d begun to grow slightly tired of having to introduce myself again and again to people I knew I’d be unlikely to see again. Although each time I went through the standard conversation: where are you from?, how long have you been here? How long have you got left? This of course had sometimes made me feel isolated but now I felt fresh again.
I heard two people discussing the disastrous performance by England in the Cricket and kind of butted in on their conversation. It turned out the ‘After Party’ was the following day though in my opinion the atmosphere was going to be more like a wake. It seemed the organisers were desperate to sell tickets and that tickets would only be $25 on the door. If I’d been around I’d have gone but I was Brisbane bound. It’s been a bit surreal being here whilst the cricket was on, 3 years ago I built the end of my trip around it, but this time I was always somewhere else when it was on. I probably saw less than 6 hours play on TV and most of that was unintentionally at a bar in New Zealand. I even seem to be in the wrong place when the Women’s Ashes matches take place and again when the Men begin the ‘One Day’ matches. This time I seem to have built the trip around the Australian Open but I’d love to see some local sport as well.
Tuesday 7th January
I woke up early even though checkout wasn’t until 11am as I had a few calls to make once of which was to the company I was using to get to Moreton Island the following day. I’d seen in the fine print I was meant to re-confirm 48 hours before and obviously it was under that. I don’t know if it’s only here they do that, but surely if I’ve paid over $200 for something that shows my intentions to participate in the activity are clear enough. Still I started phoning at 9.00, the officer opening time and there was no answer so kept trying. It took a whole 10 minutes before I remembered Queensland was backwards and still had day light saving so was an hour behind.
Finally I got through about 10.30am New South Wales time, just as I was boarding the train to the airport. The battle to spell ‘Catchpole’ to the person on the other end (non English speakers have always found the ‘tchp’ bit difficult to comprehend) became near impossible. I’d had the reference number on me all morning which would have made the task much easier but I’d had to put it away. Thankfully I was eventually found and confirmed.
I arrived in Brisbane 20 minutes after I had left Sydney or that’s what my watch said anyway. I caught the train from the airport and made the fairly short walk to the hostel without any drama. Once I was checked in I contacted Philippa to check where and when we were meeting. I spent the time in between sorting out a potential day/night bag for Moreton Island as I still hadn’t been able to establish if there was a maximum load I could take.
Eventually I commenced what I thought was a 15 minute walk to our meeting place in China Town though It ended up taking slightly longer. It was still fairly early so we decided to get a beer before heading to get some dinner. It was great to catch up again especially as I blame Philippa for putting the idea in my head to do 30 countries by the time I’m 30. We also reminisced about our Egypt tour; some of the memories I have from those few days on the cruise are my most memorable and some of the sayings have crept in to my vocabulary. “Same, same but different” the name of a shop in Dahab but which I use to settle a dispute when the point of an argument is basically the same and “Yalla Yalla” Arabic for hurry/let’s go.
As I was heading up to Bundaberg in a few days and as I was now in Queensland I decided to make my next drink Bundaberg and coke. I made a comment to the waitress that I was ordering it because I was visiting and she said she was originally from there. She told me to try the coffee liquor which they only sell at the distillery and which she claimed was nicer than Bailey’s.
Next Philippa and I went to a Korean BBQ restaurant where we ordered a selection of foods that we had to cook ourselves similar to the ‘Hot Pot’ restaurant experience in Beijing. We probably overloaded the BBQ to start with and couldn’t quite eat as quick as stuff became ready and when I was briefly alone I had to abandon eating to ensure that I wasn’t going to start a fire. It was a very nice restaurant, the food was cooked perfectly and I was certainly full by the time we left.
We then went on a small drive through the city before stopping to go for a small walk where we saw Brisbane “London Eye” which was rather small or If I’m being polite cute. Philippa then took me to a place that did ice cream where you could add sweets to the mix. I really was a kid in a sweet shop but in the end settled for lemon sorbet with nerds and fizz wizz, on!y spotting the popping candy as we were leaving. It could probably have done with something sweet as it was a bit sour but I bet Ben and Jerry’s didn’t get the formula right first time.