The joy of being awake enough to do things

27 Jun

I’m now faced with the mammoth task of summarising everything I’ve done over the past ten days, which is a LOT! I’m estimating I’ll fit about half of it in here…

Friday 17th June – Surfer’s Paradise

Firstly let me take you back to last Friday (remind me to gloat at some point about having Fridays off :P) when I finally emerged from the chrysalis of jet lag into the butterfly garden of wakefulness and required something to do in the sunshine. Phil and Michael kindly obliged by taking me down to Surfer’s Paradise – about a 10 minute drive from the house – for a nice walk on the beach. For those of you not in the know, Surfer’s has been voted one of the best beaches in the world and is where all the cool kids come to surf. It’s also one of the fastest-growing towns in Australia: they’ve built loads of skyscrapers along the beachfront and it the skyline really is an impressive thing to see.

The beach itself is undeniably gorgeous, and nice and empty too because it’s winter here (apparently) so all the surfers and sun-worshippers have jetted off to warmer climes. If you don’t believe me, check this out:

Surfer's Paradise beach - a bit nicer than South Shields

After having a bit of pizza (with controversial anchovies) and wandering down the beach for a while we decided to take a trip up the Q1 tower, which is the big spiky one in the photograph. It’s the 20th tallest building in the world and until very recently was the tallest residential building in the world, which is fairly impressive considering it’s not even in a major city. They have an observation deck on the 80th floor and the views of the beaches, canals and landscape are amazing. It’s apparently equally stunning when everything’s lit up at night so I’ll have to return at some point!

The Gold Coast seen from Q1 tower

I also made my best discovery so far, which is that they accept my student card here; presumably because they think I’m from the Australian Newcastle University: WIN!

Weekend 18th-19th June – Brisbane

This was my first proper adventure: a trip to Brisbane (about an hour’s drive north of Benowa) to explore the big city. The plan was to travel down with Phil, Michael and Sally, have a look around and meet up with the legendary Wham and some other people to go ice skating in King George Square before hitting the town – as you’ll see our well-laid plans were to go somewhat awry! We got to Brisbane at lunchtime and went for a long long walk through the city down to the riverside, which is so pretty: you wouldn’t believe was totally flooded out only a few months ago. We had calamari and beer for lunch and watched the little boats go past for a bit before walking all the way back to the square to check out the ice rink. It was touching to see how confused the Aussies were by the presence of ice: they’d all dressed up in hats, gloves and scarves even though it was easily 20 degrees outside and the organisers were clearly having a tough job keeping the thing frozen! The skating rink itself was a little smaller than we had anticipated and they were really piling people in, and seen as some of us had forgotten to book online it seemed unlikely we would get tickets, so we amused ourselves watching people fall over instead.

Aussies ice skating - like orange-footed fish out of water

When it got dark we started to get a bit chilly so we had another little wander and went to get pies (from Pieface – the pies have faces on them) and alcohol to consume at Phil’s apartment, the plan still being to meet Wham and the others later on. Unfortunately we got a little too comfortable on the sofa after eating our pies, and I realised I had managed by some magical freak of fate to get a bottle of the nicest wine I’d ever tasted for about $6, so I really got stuck into demolishing that. The final blow to our planned night out occurred when we realised that Universal Soldier was on, with Jean-Claude van Damme and everything, and we were therefore subsequently doomed to watch it to the bitter end. To top our evening off (several units of alcohol later) we decided to treat the rest of the building to at least two hours of pure unadulterated Pink Floyd karaoke, which was like an orgasm to the ears… at least for us! As far as I’m aware we rounded things off with Bohemian Rhapsody and I promptly fell asleep on the sofa at about 1:30am after a thoroughly enjoyable evening.

Brisbane by night

Brisbane by day

The next day, after breakfasting on Pizza Shapes and cereal bars, we took a stroll down to the South Bank for a look at the market. I had an icy watermelon slush drink – one of my treasured memories from my last Australian holiday – and can happily confirm that they’re just as heavenly as I remember them being! There were a lot of fairly standard market stalls selling tie-dye tops, gypsy-style scarves, candles and plastic jewellery; but we did see an excellent (albeit a rather nervous) street performer who proceeded to juggle knives, fire and a baby 10 feet in the air*. After that we walked back over the bridge and through the botanic gardens, where we sat under a lovely tree for a bit and went to listen to a Bosnian folk band play some quite devilishly addictive tunes.

* It wasn’t a real baby

Lovely tree in Brisbane's botanic gardens

Our feet were getting tired by this point so we got the long-awaited legendary Wham to pick us up and drive us to the Three Monkeys cafe for sustenance. I had a slice of some fantastic cookies and cream cheesecake and was amazed by the fact they gave you honey to put in your tea. Soon afterwards it was time to wave goodbye to Brisbane and get the train home. Once again my student discount saved me an absolute fortune! Lovely jubbly.

As predicted I’ve only got about halfway through my catalogue of recent adventures: the rest will be brought to you as soon as my eyes and fingers have recovered from typing this lot out! Be assured it will contain hilariously embarassing pictures of me (and others) attempting to ride rollercoasters in a vaguely dignified manner.

Here is another Australian joke for your enjoyment:

While waiting to finalise their Australian residential status, two Afghanistani men start chatting. As they part, they agree to meet in a years’ time and see who has adapted better to the Australian way of life. True to their word, they meet after the year is up. The first says to the second, “We have integrated so well… yesterday I ate a meat pie and drank a VB while watching my son play Aussie rules.”

The second man replies: “F*ck off, towelhead.”

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2 Responses to “The joy of being awake enough to do things”

  1. Sai June 27, 2011 at 1:12 pm #

    Nice post and photos! Sounds like you are enjoying yourself.

    I still don’t get the Australian jokes…… Is “towel head” an Australian version of bastard or something like that?

    • laurajaynewatson June 28, 2011 at 5:31 am #

      haha, it’s a derogatory term referring to Arab head-wear; the joke being that Australians are pretty racist!

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