Published: January 12th 2012
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Vague representation of where we went in Quuensland

Thanks to Carley, Kris and Meryl for driving us!

Brisbane skylineBrisbane skylineBrisbane skyline

Even here, the summer was struggling.
In Brisbane, we had the double benefit of hospitable friends with cars and time off work. So we were chauffered around Queensland’s south-eastern corner, from lush green mountainside to sparkling bay, from the bright lights of Bris-Vegas (as it is sometimes called, for no discernable reason) to time-warp rural towns.

Kris and Carley hosted us wonderfully for no less than 10 nights. Friends of Mina from their London days, these kindly Aussies foolishly indulged Ben by encouraging him to run through his range of stereotypical accents, including, of course, Australian, mate. You beauty. Hmmm, it works even less well in print.

Not only that, with their help, we learned to surf, with moderate but surprising success; ate a whale’s portion of seafood; saw test match cricket at the famous Gabba (well, one of us did – guess who); jumped the waves and lay in the golden sands of the Sunshine Coast; played darts and lawn bowls (yes, really); and survived a tropical downpour at Australia Zoo. (See our earlier blog for pictures of that.)

Also accompanying us on many of these fun days were Ben’s uni mate Meryl, husband Allen and three year old Ieuan. They’ve been down
Over the hills and farawayOver the hills and farawayOver the hills and faraway

Queensland is pretty green and hilly in this south east corner
under for over two years, and like the other Brits we met, show no sign of returning to Blighty in the foreseeable future. They’ve even gone native and begun to call flip-flops “thongs”.

Despite apparently sharing a language, we have become familiar with many instances of Aussie-English deviation. True born ‘Strayans can sometimes be heard referring to beer as “piss”. Having spent the day sampling the alcoholic offerings at the Gabba, it became apparent why perhaps this might be. The company of Kris and Allen, and a good day’s cricket, that simmered, but never quite reached boiling point, nevertheless made up for the filthy beer. Plus there were no delays due to bad light or rain.

Jez, a school-friend of Ben, lives in Brisbane too, with his wife, Bea. We spent an enjoyable evening with them, eating even more food. Tellingly, Jez referred to their home as a “unit”, as the Aussies like to call their apartments. It sounds too clinical for our liking, rather like a cell on a space ship, or in a prison. Perhaps there’s a clue there.

We learned another new word on the way to Brisbane – “schoolies”. Lucky kids, who, having finished school for the year, head to the beaches with their mates, for a week or more of sun, sea and who knows what else. Unwittingly, we entered their domain – the overnight train from Sydney to Brisbane had become the schoolies’ party train. Their high spirits made it a restless journey. With friends with cars and time to spare, our Australian train adventure had drawn to a close. It had taken us from Darwin to Brisbane, the long way round, via Alice Springs, Adelaide, Warrnambool, Melbourne and Sydney, through varied scenery and decreasing levels of comfort. We’d do it again though. Most of it, anyway.

Next stop – New Zealand – no friends, no trains.

Additional photos below
Photos: 25, Displayed: 24


We like lizards!We like lizards!
We like lizards!

More Aussie wildlife

Or ‘Yay’ as he likes to call himself
St.Bernard and the ‘pokies’St.Bernard and the ‘pokies’
St.Bernard and the ‘pokies’

‘Pokies’ = slot machines, one arm bandits St.Bernard = a very large dog
Dinner at Carley and Kris’Dinner at Carley and Kris’
Dinner at Carley and Kris’

Yet more delicious food.
Day trip to Byron BayDay trip to Byron Bay
Day trip to Byron Bay

Just over the NSW border
Lighthouse at Byron BayLighthouse at Byron Bay
Lighthouse at Byron Bay

Marks the most easterly point of mainland Australia
Surf dudeSurf dude
Surf dude

Tragically, no photographic evidence exists of Ben riding this thing. (But it did happen, honest.)
Looking over the Tasman SeaLooking over the Tasman Sea
Looking over the Tasman Sea

‘The ditch’ – a very big one
Farewell barbeque at Kangaroo PointFarewell barbeque at Kangaroo Point
Farewell barbeque at Kangaroo Point

Check the great weather! Another great thing about ‘Straya is the proliferation of free-to-use barbeques in public places.
Interactive artInteractive art
Interactive art

Ben gets up close and personal with a Yayoi Kusama installation at Brisbane's excellent Queensland Gallery of Modern Art

12th January 2012
St.Bernard and the ‘pokies’

love this pic
a modern classic

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