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Published: August 31st 2006
“Good morning ladies and gentleman, this is your captain speaking, we have just begun our decent towards Brisbane where the local time is 5.45am and the temperature is a cool 10 degrees”. Shit. Wearing shorts, t-shirts and flip flops Dave and Lucy arrive in Australia totally unprepared for the climate waiting to greet them in Brisbane. After 6 months sweating their butts off, it dawned on the now shivering duo that they had neglected to check the weather for their arrival, and after leaving all warm clothing at check-in and Dave sending his trainers home a week previous there were plenty of odd looks from the cabin crew who enquired into our lack of attire. More pleasantries were in store for Lucy after passport control when a friendly looking dog came and sat down next to her. Unfortunately Rover was attached to a not-so-cute looking gentleman from customs and excise who began to ask Lucy about the contents of her hand luggage and perform a quick search. With a look of ‘if you pull out rubber gloves, I’m off’ she helpfully complied, and after they were satisfied she was carrying no animals, plant life or drugs we were ushered through baggage
claim and back out into the brisk morning air. Still very much half asleep and feeling the effect of the red wine on the plane, we caught a train first in the wrong direction towards the domestic airport terminal, then managed to board the correct one to find our way to the gold coast suburb of Arundel.
The reason for a trip to the gold coast was to meet up with Lucy’s Mum’s Cousin; Kath. The significance of this meeting was that the last time Lucy’s mum had seen Kath was in her early teens before Kath emigrated with her family to Australia. Kath met us from the train station with a broad smile and said “you must be Lucy and Dave”. The identification process was less glamorous than one of us holding a rose, and probably went more like ‘well, they’re the only two backpack wielding unclean pommies in the car park, so… you must be Lucy and Dave’. Kath provided the warmest of welcomes to her beautiful home with a breakfast of toast and the Australian national dish Vegemite. Sleep was needed, and after a couple of hours snoozing in the best bed we have slept in
for 6 months we awoke to a lunch of cheese and ham sandwiches. After a staple diet of Curries, Rice and Noodles the humble sandwich seemed like the best thing since, well, sliced bread. That afternoon we went to pick up Kath’s daughter Evana from school, totally dispelling the myth that all kids in Australia travel to school on the back of a Kangaroo. In the evening another treat was in store as Lucy got her first dose of ‘Neighbours’ and Kath prepared a fantastic chicken roast dinner, and Dave and Lucy both felt their bad luck from Asia was finally changing, carry on like this Kath and you may never get rid of us.
The next day we headed to the concrete jungle that is Surfers Paradise to sort out our transport up the east coast and treat ourselves to some much needed fish and chips. Not comparing to Baileys on Southend seafront but still tasting like the best we had ever had, the first two days of Australia were spent indulging in all the food we had missed throughout Asia. The final day spent at Kath’s was spent walking in the bush and taking a tour around
some of the local waterfront property estates that contain houses too unbelievable to explain, and were certainly out of our price range. Unfortunately we never got to meet Kath’s husband Thomas who was away on a business/ skiing trip. The three days spent in the company of the Mezera family were the best welcome to Oz that two weary travellers could ever have wished for.
Byron Bay was the next stop and after a few minutes fumbling with the guide book trying to find the local camp site to make use of our newly purchased tent, we discovered that there was a guy at the bus stop offering rooms similar to the camp site tariffs just down the coast at a place called Lennox Head. We were sharing a place with two English lads, Paul and Willow and an Irish guy called Dave. We had some sandwiches prepared for us by Kath and Michael who owned our hostel said if we walked up to the point there would be a good chance of being able to see whales off the coast. After getting about half way up we managed to get as glimpse of a Humpback breaching out of
the water followed by a pod of Dolphins jumping out of the sea. We got some great views from the top and saw more Whales as well as Eagles gliding majestically on the air currents. That night was spent in the company of our new room mates at the local pub for the weekly open mike night where the weekend rock stars of Lennox come to strut their stuff in front of the lively local crowd. Irish Dave got up to do a couple of numbers and the night was topped off by an excellent covers band who got everyone up dancing/ falling around. After waking up with sore heads and realising that the lack of drinking through Malaysia had dented their ability to handle premium alcohol a vow was made to get back into practice. A walk to the tea tree lake sorted our hangover worries and after lunch it was back to the pub with the lads to get in some more Carlton Draught and VB. Surfing has been a sport that Dave has always wanted to have a go at so along with Irish Dave boards were rented and we all set off to the beach for
a couple of hours floundering around in the surf. It was clear from the outset that neither had the fist clue where to start and the opinion was taken that no matter how stupid we looked, surly we weren’t the first. After half an hour of being battered and bullied by tiny waves our arms and shoulder muscles where ready to break as we fought with our boards trying to catch a wave. After a few were caught and confidence was growing Lucy recalls looking out to sea for Dave, but after scouring the ocean for a couple of seconds and thinking for a brief moment that he had become lunch for a hungry great white, she was relieved to find he was safe and sound lying flat on the beach. An under estimation of the force of a wave had meant that a clearly out of control Englishman would be carried by the surf and ceremoniously dumped on the shore. After regaining his bearings Dave picked himself up, and with only a bruised ego after being laughed at by a man pushing a pram, hung up his wet suit and surf board for the first and last time.
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