Published: February 14th 2008February 14th 2008
I arrived in Oz a couple of weeks ago and was met with heavy showers at Sydney airport. Not the welcome I'd expected. Had come all prepared with my factor 30 and sunglasses. Hey ho. Anyway, I spent a first jet-lagged day in Sydney before flying up to Cairns with the plan to travel down the East coast back to Sydney and then fly on to NZ. Funny seeing the Opera House looking so overcast but at least the tropical park nearby was a monsoonly real experience.
Cairns came as an unexpected culture shock. The 20-something backpacker party-party-party scene was a bit too much for me, I have to confess, and I suddenly felt very old and boring! Decided the best way to deal with it was to buy a tent (a snip at 15 quid in the local Woolies!) and camp my way down the coast. With limited accomodation options and camping being the cheapest one anyway, it seemed a great idea at the time...........
The first stop was Mission Beach and I spent a blissful (if slightly mozzy bitten) night under canvas. The only slight worry was a faint stormy rumbling but it sounded far away enough
not to lose too much sleep over. Mission beach was beautiful. Wandered along an idyllic and almost empty shore whilst crocodiles nestled closeby and box jelly fish floated serenely on the sea. Didn't have a swim needless to say.
The next stop was Airlie beach, just by the Whitsunday islands. And again, another bitten but balmy night in my trusty tent. The next day I did a recky in town and twas then I started looking at prices for trips and things and realising the unreality of my budget. Thought I might just be able to squeeze in a trip to one of the nearer islands but then disaster struck. That night I got completely flooded out with storms and winds a-raging and ended up sitting it out in the campsite laundry. Thankfully I found somewhere the next day to dry out the tent and catch up on sleep in one of the on-site teepees. By then it was late afternoon though and the forecast was storms for the rest of the week so I decided to cut my losses and head down to Brisbane and seek refuge in the city. A gooooood decision as it turned out. There's
been WILD weather since with boats and yacht getting smashed up and homes getting flooded out. Funny to be all this way from Hull and having to escape floods. Home from home really.
And so here I am, still in Brisbane, having braved a backpackers hostel one night and survived (found I wasn't the oldest there and had a few good chats too. Hoorah) and stayed with a friend of a friend. Have made a few more decisions though, mainly due to a dwindling budget and the weather, and am flying to New Zealand from here a week early. Have enjoyed hanging out in Brisbane though. Have met some great people. The morning I first got here was particularly memorable. I was out looking for a supermarket when I heard the sound of accordians playing and the clacking of sticks. Sounded a bit folky familiar so went to investigate and came across a group of morris dancers practising in a carpark. Was so chuffed cos had been feeling a bit homesick as I recall. Anyway, I asked if I could watch and in the end they got me up and dancing. Can't remember the dance I learnt now but
whatever, it was a much needed moment of music and merriment.
The other memorable thing has been watching the Prime Minister give his "Sorry" message yesterday to the Aborigine people for all the injustices they've suffered, especially the Stolen Generation who as kids were taken from their parents due to the misguided notion that they'd be better off in a white family. It was very moving and I felt really privileged to be here at such an historic moment. Really interesting to hear all the different views too. Never a straightforward thing, this changing history lark, but yesterday was a significant and very healing day. Glad to have witnessed it on Ozzie soil.