Well having arrived back in Australia, I spend my first two nights back at the Dolphins Beachhouse on Sunshine Beach. There I primarily spent my time organising practical things like buying a new pair of glasses, catching up my blog/mails, going to a movie (Beneath Hill 60, a good Aussie WW1 drama) and making some plans for the next phase of my trip. The next day, I headed into the hills to visit Mapleton Falls and the Blackhall Mountain Range. The highlight of the day was the Glass House Mountains. Strange triangular shaped mountains that jut out of the plains just outside of Brisbane. Although it was not possible to climb them I did do an 8km hike around the base of one of them. From there, I drove into the city where with some difficulty I managed to negotiate the busy city traffic and find my hostel.
I had selected a hostel in the West Bank area of the city, an area of leafy suburbs, full of hip restaurants, just 15 minutes walk from the centre of the city. Brisbane’s CBD (central business district) is located along the banks of the Brisbane river and it contains an interesting mix of both colonial and modern buildings. On Thursday, I headed to Commisariat Stores building which contained a very interesting museum on the original prison colony that was set up in and founded Brisbane. After checking out the shops, I spent most of the afternoon just chilling out at the inner city beach / lagoon in the South Bank arts district.
That evening I was planning to take it easy in the hostel but I ended up playing Beer-pong, a local drinking game. This involved bouncing ping pong balls across a table into your oppositions full beer glasses. A successful hit required them to empty their glass before they could try to do the same with you. Having successfully negotiated the semi-final stage, my team “The Orgasm Addicts”, including Mark from Australia and Olle from Sweden, were drawn against “The Germans” in the final. Having conceded an early goal, we then quickly regained a 2-1 advantage, only for the Germans to equalise with just 15 seconds to play (bloody typical !!). This meant sudden-death ! Fortunately, Mark made full use of home advantage to immediately respond with a stunning winner much to the dismay of our German female opponents. Being gentlemen, however we ended up sharing our prize (two pitchers of beer) with the losers and it ended up quite a fun night.
The following day, I decided to check out some of the local culture and headed to the Queenland Gallery of Modern Art which was quite interesting although for some reason most of the art came from Asia or New Zealand. Then I took the local City Cat boat about 5 km down the river to check out the New Farm area before walking back to Brunswick St, Brisbane’s version of Chinatown. From there I headed back into the city to purchase the Netbook computer that I am now writing on. For just E200, I have picked up a 10” PC that is faster and has more memory than my last work Notebook ! So you will probably be getting longer blogs and more e-mails in the future.
Friday night is the start of a long sports weekend in Australia where the locals are big fans of Rugby Union, Rugby League and Australian Rules football with games on almost continuously on TV over the weekend. Being in a big City, I could finally get to a game so I headed down to the 75,000 seater Suncorp stadium to see local Rugby League team, the Brisbane Bronco’s take on the Newcastle Knights. The stadium atmosphere with 25k fans, was pretty good, with the same fan intensity that you get at European Soccer games combined with the readily available food and drink that you get at American sports events (although the Aussies were drinking a lot more beer !). The game proved pretty interesting for the neutral as the away team Newcastle initially dominated taking a quick 2 try advantage (0-12). Then against the run of play the Bronco’s scored a lucky try and within 5 minutes had scored 3 more much to the delight of the ecstatic home fans. This meant a half time score of (22-12) as the Bronco had missed one of the conversions. Everyone was looking forward to a good second half, but unfortunately Newcastle completely dominated again and scored a further 3 tries to run out (22-30) winners much to the disappointment of the locals. Fortunately, with 7 of the tries being scored on my side of the pitch, I wasn’t complaining.
Saturday, ended up being a lazy day as my main focus was to get my new Netbook up and running down at the Queensland State Library where they have a 20 x 10m room available for locals and tourists to get free internet or wi-fi access. Some things are very well organised in Australia. From there I headed to the Botanical Garden’s where I stopped for a quick lunch and to read the weekend paper. When I arrived the café tables were full but suddenly a large bird attacked my neighbours toasted sandwich and then proceeded to go after other people's food. Most people started to panic so within minutes I was the only one left on the terrace bar much to the dismay of the Scottish restaurant owner. I also left shortly after to the ’safety’ of my hostel so I could read up on the next phase of my trip through Oz and my first adventures in New South Wales.
More news on that next week !