Weeks 8 and 9 (31st Mar–13th Apr) – Brisbane

While in Brisbane, we’re doing our first housesit through trustedhousesitters.com. We meet the lovely kitty Ruski who we’ll be looking after while the lady of the house Kim and her husband are away. After seven weeks of travelling, it’s quite nice to spend a week doing nothing, and the weather seems to agree as it hammers down with rain for five solid days! We spend the time fussing Ruski, who is adorable, and watching movies. We head out to the local cinema to watch Get Hard, which is hilarious, and Fast and the Furious 7 (which I fell asleep in, oops) and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Primal Fear, Point Break, Pirates of the Caribbean 3, A Few Good Men, Inglourious Basterds, Con Air, Snake Eyes, and The Departed on DVD. We also popped out to the local shopping centre to replenish food stocks a few times and played an epic game of Monopoly in which I thrashed Peb, obviously.

On a day where the torrential rain finally let off, we headed into Brisbane CBD (Central Business District, or city centre as we know it). It’s a grey day but the city is pretty impressive – far more skyscrapers than I’d imagined. The South Bank looks distinctly like London’s South Bank from the bridge, complete with London Eye, or should I say, the Wheel of Brisbane, and muddy brown river. We checked out the Botanic Gardens, which are full of bearded dragons and water dragons, and Grill’d, who do tasty and relatively healthy burgers. Peb is happy to find our first Starbucks in Australia – it’s strange that they’ve not really made it over here. Then we watch our first AFL (Aussie Football League) game in the apparently traditional English pub the Pig’n’Whistle (they serve lobster there – they really need to check out English pubs if they think that’s traditional). Since we’re in Brissie and their home team is called the Lions (and incidentally wear similar colours to the Birmingham Lions), we choose to support them. Sadly they get annihilated, but AFL is pretty fun to watch anyway even if the refs do look silly when they throw the ball backwards.

By the end of the week, the weather was looking up and we got a few hot days. We headed into Brisbane again and what a difference the sun makes, glistening off all the skyscrapers. We saw more of the city via the free city council ferries (take note Birmingham city council, some councils offer services for free), then had lunch in the prettiest Coffee Club on Eagle Street Pier (and incidentally, the first ever Coffee Club) beside the river, with views of Storey Bridge. Take note Coffee Club, I’m hoping you open some franchises in England soon!

On Easter Sunday, we walked for an hour to Red Rooster to get a cooked chicken and had our first roast dinner in Aus. We also had a delicious steak at the Breakfast Creek hotel with Kim’s husband when he returned – a cool place with a counter full of steaks so you can see which you want before you order, then you get buzzed to go fetch your food; totally chilled out dining, and the pub is beautiful.

We met a friend of Peb’s mom, Caroline, who took us to Redcliffe to see the coast, where we had lovely fish’n’chips and checked out the Gayundah shipwreck. She also took us on a mystery day tour of the beautiful Glasshouse Mountains (so called because they look like shards of glass), Mary Cairncross park with an amazing picnic and cute Pademelons in the beautiful rainforest, then an absolutely picturesque town called Montville up in the mountains. She also taught me to play pokies (slot machines based purely on luck) and I managed to win $20.

We had one final day in Brissie, which we’ve grown to love, and had a look at the Lions home ground, the Gabba (they’ve continued to lose every game since we started supporting them, of course). We walked in via Kangaroo point where there are great views of the city from the clifftop, relaxed in deck chairs in one of the squares (again free thanks to the city council), and then got the ferry back while admiring the bright lights of the city at night.

Finally, we picked up our free prize camper (nicknamed the BFG as it’s huge) thanks to STA Travel and headed off on our next road trip. Our first stop was Brissie’s neighbour city Ipswich, which is nothing like the Ipswich it was named after, and a visit to their free nature centre (donations welcome) where got to see some adorable wombats and the endangered quoll. We checked out the colonial architecture in Ipswich’s Top of Town and Peb was incredibly excited to buy his first comic in Daily Planet comics.

We took a drive around the pretty Tamborine Mountain, then headed south towards the Queensland/New South Wales border. We stopped in Gold Coast briefly–very briefly in fact, as it was full of traffic and drunk teenagers, and looked like Australia’s Benidorm. We went to two interesting free seminars at the Gold Coast Film Festival, “Meet the Filmmakers” with director Robert Connolly and producer (awesomely-named) Veronica Fury. We watched a bodyboarding comp in Coolangatta, then I got bit rather painfully on the foot. Australia, full of vicious snakes and spiders and what do I get bitten by? An ant. A giant, mean ant, of course.

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