10 days visiting Laura and Brad in Brisbane.
03.02.2011 - 14.02.2011 27 °C
This is a very late posting for this blog as no sooner had we returned from Brisbane than Simon and Shelley arrived in Hanoi and then went and my parents arrived for a month. Photos and blogs on these will go up shortly but I'm far too busy having a fun time and taking photos to find time write much........ but in the meantime, I hope you enjoy the photos of Brisbane. I've also done a compliation video of the trip.... hopefully I'll be able to upload that too or put the link to Youtube.
As Vietnam effectively closes down for two weeks during Tet, it was the perfect opportunity to visit Laura and Brad in Queensland especially as January and February had been quite cold and Australian summer sunshine had a certain appeal!
We had such a great time! It was so good to see where they live, socialise, work, meet some of their friends and generally get to know Brisbane much more. Our last and only visit was some years ago and we were only in the city for two nights before we all headed up to Port Douglas. This time was different and it's a great city! We stayed in a hotel in easy walking distance of Laura and Brad's apartment and the CBD. The Palace, beloved of backpackers and resting place for Nick, Laura and Ed in the past (and at different times!) was just down the road. We ate kangaroo, emu, croc, possum, nuts and berries, Chinese, Greek, Indian - good food!
Here's the Youtube link of a compliation video I messed about with which has some of the highlights of the trip!
Cyclone Yasi had been through the area near Cairns, northern Queensland, a day before we arrived so we saw plenty on their news channels; there were also the floods in Victoria and updates on the clean up operation for some of the towns outside Brisbane. But Queensland is open for business! As you will remember, Brisbane had unprecedented flooding in January but the city had worked hard to clean it up and remove the contaminated debris, mud and soil. The new boardwalk by South Bank had mostly been washed away and the trees along the river were stripped of all foliage to a certain height. The usual white struts on the bridges showed the tide marks and they were high. As we were moving around, Laura and Brad and showed us which areas, streets and houses had been underwater and those which had, by a miracle, escaped.
We had a day sailing from Sovereign Island with Geoff. A great breeze, mainsail and jib up and the catamaran was nipping along. The day was an experience not least as Laura's car broke down so we did spend a few hours waiting for the RACQ to turn up and tow it away but everything has a silver lining and so it meant we returned later in the week and spent a few hours in Surfers Parhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=14mfesw_maYadise, people watching and messing about in huge surf! Such fun!
Nick, Laura and I had 3 days on Fraser Island and barely scratched the surface of it. What an amazing place! The largest sand island in the world and perched on it is a rain forest. The freshwater lakes are said to be the freshest in the world and the sand at Lake Mckenzie is almost pure silica. We hired a 4x4 so we could move around the island independantly and were surprised how empty the island was. We heard that tourists either hadn't booked thinking that the floods rendered that coast and Brisbane unattractive or they had cancelled due to Cyclone Yasi. It was a shame for the tourist trade but wonderful for us: 75 Mile Beach to ourselves (no other vehicle in sight) and then a dingo appears from, seemingly nowhere, and trotted alongside the jeep. I think the photos say much more than I can.
Back to Brisbane and a day out in Coolangatta, again sitting on the beach and in the surf. Coolangatta is on the Gold Coast but further south of Surfers and certainly has a very different air about it; not nearly so built up or commercial and the beach far less crowded. Laura had read a very good review of the food in the Coolangatta Surf Club but we were "between menus" so just had a snack and a drink but there was a crooner with electric piano playing all the 60s hits we know and love so well and then there was a raffle -the prizes were different meat trays: breakfast, seafood, beef, BBQ - and SO many prizes but a winning number eluded Brad each time and he was often just one or two tickets out, a real shame! The Surf Club was a real experience!
How often do you go on holiday and leave planning the next trip but actually how often do those ideas come to fruition? Well, Laura and Brad aren't moving anywhere so we shall definitely be back and want to return to Fraser but also talk of us meeting in Darwin next time and exploring the Northern Territories a bit. Laura put the scale of Australia into context for us: we were driving back to Brisbane from Fraser and the journey was about 4 hours. That's roughly how long it takes us to get from Berkhamsted to Whitby and that's a approximately a quarter of the length of the UK; in Australia, that is a minute part of Queensland, never mind the whole continent!
We'll be back!