Back in Brisbane
Over the next couple of weeks we had some lovely days out with Charlotte and Brian and spent precious ‘quality time’ together. Their new B-B-Q proved a big hit and we seemed to have cracked mealtimes with myself or Ray doing the veg stuff and Brian cooking the meat.
For my birthday Charlotte had bought tickets for the theatre production of ‘Strictly Ballroom’ which I was delighted about. I’d loved the film and Charlotte is a real Baz Lurmann fan and he’d had some input with the stage production. We went into Brisbane, ate an early dinner, after which Ray and Brian dropped us at the theatre then went off to a race track to watch some kind of banger racing; the theatre didn’t appeal to them.
Excited, we took our seats and I have to confess I’m a bit of a moaner if I don’t get a good view, when tickets are so expensive. We were perfectly placed when suddenly a family arrived with two little kids, aged around 4 and 6. What the …
Instead of putting the children between themselves the parents shoved them side by side next to me. ‘Noooooo’ Charlotte changed seats with me and I wound myself up glancing across at these adults who were totally ignoring the kids, she laughing away with a plastic glass of wine and him right at the end of the row. The children did nothing wrong, they were little kids who some moron thought would sit still through a two hour adult show. A quick look around the theatre and there wasn’t another kid to be seen – just our luck. When the lights went down and the show began I was fine but Charlotte said she was going to move, which she did. The little boy, right next to her was fidgeting, talking and rattling a massive bag of sweets. How infuriating. I waited until the interval and followed Charlotte out. While shuffling past ‘said parents’ I pointed out that we were moving due to their noisy kids. They looked flabbergasted when I suggested that sitting their little darlings between them might have been an idea. The tickets cost over $100 each and my advice is, if you can’t get a baby sitter, stay home. A woman sitting directly in front of the boy who’d been getting her seat kicked at regular intervals turned and said, ‘my thoughts exactly.’ How inconsiderate. When everyone returned for the second half Charlotte said the husband, a squat looking bloke with variety of tattoos snaking across the top of his bald head caught her eye and for want of a better phrase ‘eye-balled’ her for a good two minutes but she stared him out, (that’s my girl). It had probably taken the twenty minute interval for him to realise he’d been challenged and he didn’t like it.
We did get seats at little further back and I had to move again because a huge Amazonian type woman plonked herself right in front of me. I’m sure her head and hair were double the size of most normal people. Having said all that the show was absolutely brilliant. When we told the men our little tale Ray said he wasn’t in the least bit surprised ‘there isn’t a cinema or theatre, seemingly now in the whole world, that ‘suits’ Liz.’ But, it really wasn’t like that!
Charlotte and Brian had a long week-end and we decided to take a trip to Noosa. It’s a posh little seaside place full of rich people, where they have their holiday homes and keep their boats. We’d found out quite by chance that a ‘classic car’ event was taking place over the week-end and Ray and Brian were keen to take a look. Charlotte and myself went off to take a look at the little town and had lunch in one of the many outdoor cafés. Noosa has a rich history and a natural beauty that earned it the title of Queensland’s first UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. There are many spectacular views of beaches, mountains, birds and marine life. The town itself was full to bursting with week-enders visiting, like us. Also, there appeared to be an army of aged, mahogany coloured folk, wearing shorts and baseball caps and taking full advantage of the fabulous weather. I guess they’d be the retirees. Who could blame them? We joined Brian and Ray later on and had a quick whiz around the classic car show; they seemed to have been in there for hours. Men and cars and machines! That afternoon we took another ferry ride to a lovely little island where we stopped off for a cool drink and agreed that Noosa would be a lovely place to live. That evening we drove out quite a few miles and found a hotel/tavern/pub to spend the night, which worked out very well because Brian wanted to watch his football team (Aussie) in their cup final and his team won, ‘The Cowboys’ I think.
To finally see that kangaroo we decided a day out at Australia Zoo would fit the bill. Home of the ‘Crocodile Hunter’ Steve Irwin, sadly no longer with us. About an hours drive from Brisbane Australia Zoo is advertised as the ultimate wildlife experience with over 1,200 animals and free interactive wildlife shows daily – from tigers to otters and koalas with everything in between. I’m not a fan of ‘the zoo’ believing that wild animals should be free. However, the emphasis these days is on preserving species and protecting and I have to say that Steve Irwin’s vision of conservation is stamped very clearly throughout the entire zoo. From a small zoo created by his father back in the 70’s it is a remarkable achievment, now being carried on by the Irwin family. You can stroll around at your leisure and there is a little train that will pick you up should you get too weary. There is something for everyone, even a wildlife safari. The crocodile show was impressive, but I really enjoyed the birds of prey whooshing down from on high through the auditorium to land on the trainers arm; this was the warm up act and finale but I’d say that it was more spectacular than the crocs, probably because I wasn’t expecting it. We made our way to a shady area where there were a few dozy looking, small kangaroos lollying about. Adults and children were approaching them and it was all very non-threatening so I did get up close to have a photograph taken. (It would be foolish to allow the public to interact with anything bigger or more alert. ). But, I still want to see one in the outback, next trip perhaps. The zoo is a great day out for a family with lots of interactive things for children to do. Cost per adult is around $60 children $30. As we were leaving I took a photograph of the life sized bronze statue of Steve Irwin and his family and pet dog situated at the exit. On closer inspection I had to agree with Charlotte’s comment about Steve Irwin looking more like Patrick Swayzee.
Time was running away and one of the last trips we took with Charlotte and Brian was up to Tamborine Mountain, where they boast a sky-walk through the jungle. We took the 45 minute walk through the rainforest canopies, stopping along the way to read all the information about the flora, fauna and history of the place. Oddly, there was a plaque honouring Jack Brabham, an old time racing driver; I recognised the name but hadn’t realized he was Australian. There is an astonishing 300 metres of high-tech steel bridges through the highest points of the upper canopy, and a 40 metre cantilever bridge that soars a breathtaking 30 metres above the creek and rainforest below. It wobbled a bit and if you have vertigo you might feel a bit odd. Charlotte then tells me that she has trouble getting on and off escalators. When did that happen? Aside from that we had a lovely time and again it was great just to get into the cool.
Our journey hadn’t quite finished. The next leg and flight to Malaysia was leaving from the Gold Coast airport. Charlotte and Brian were going to drop us down to our motel and spend the day with us and return after dinner. But, just as I’d thought, that was going to be dragging it out and she would be getting upset. So after a walk along the beach and a coffee we said our goodbyes; all feeling a bit miserable.
Australia had been a wonderful experience and one that we hope to repeat in the not too distant future. Would we have ever made it down under if Charlotte hadn’t been there? Possibly not. From the mountains to the sea to the pristine cities Australia is a land with so much to offer and a place you could easily settle into. How sad for us that it just happens to be on the other side of the world.