XXXX in the City

Trip Start Sep 28, 2009
Trip End Apr 22, 2011

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Where I stayed
Newmarket Holiday Park

Flag of Australia  , Queensland,
Thursday, October 28, 2010


Tuesday 26th October 2010

Tuesday is the best day of the week in Australia because everything is cheap....Tight Arse Tuesday they call it. This is the day you get all the best deals on food, drinks and movies.   There was a big mall down the road from us in Southport high street which had a cinema, so packed up some homemade popcorn and a bottle of coke and jumped on our bikes.  Once we picked a film (Let me in) we killed some time before it started by walking round the shops.  The film was good, I do like a good vampire movie, and the theatre was almost empty so no-one near me to be noisy during the film.  On the way back we bought some fruit and a couple of their giant rolls of sushi...delicious.

Wednesday 27th October 2010

It was very hot the next morning, we got up early but just lazed around, doing a few chores and reading our books in the sun.  After a while we packed a bag up and wandered over to the pool, so we could lounge on the sunbeds with our books and take a dip in the water.

At 5pm we were back in the saddle again and on our way to back to Surfers Paradise for the night market.  It wasn't the biggest of markets and it was mostly really tacky touristy stuff, but there were a few interesting stalls.  Gary bought some Beef Jerky and we watch an artist create an amazing picture in about 5 mins.  We had a walk on the beach and an Ice-cream at McDonalds before heading back using our bike lights for the first time.

Thursday 28th October 2010

Distance                               73km
Accommodation                    $33
Weather                               Sunny - 25 degrees

Time to move on again, we are going the Brisbane today, we did all the usual packing up chores, put the bikes on the back, lock everything down, unplug the electric, but this time we had a tarpaulin to clear up.  Most pitches have a grassy area and slab of concrete or two slabs of concrete, one to park on and one for you use to set up your tables, chairs, etc.  This time our pitch only had grass and mud so we needed to put a tarp down to stop the mud and sand being trampled indoors.  The problem with this was we had to dry it out and clean it off before we put it away....that was my job.

As we drove to Brisbane we followed signs for Wet’n’Wild and Movie World, we had decided not to do either but were beginning to regret that now.  As the exit for Wet’n’Wild approached Gary did a left turn and went down it.......a spontaneous decision.  I made up some sandwiches and drinks and we joined the end of the end of the queue to get in.  Their slogan is Wet’n’Wild the biggest and the best, and yes it has been a few years since I went to the Florida one but this really was massive.  They had managed to get a good balance of kids rides, good fun rides, really scary rides and 'you must be a nutter to go on that’ rides.  It was fairly quiet as the kids were meant to be at school, so not too many queues and the weather was warm but not too hot so you didn’t cook while you waited.  We had a great day, went round the lazy river three times and on some of the scary rides...avoided the ‘you must be a nutter’ rides ......they were just mental.   We ate our lunch sitting on sunbeds round the wave pool, only in Australia do they make the wave pool life threatening.  The waves were so high and come at you from all directions.  In the usual laid back way of doing thing here, the bringing of food to a place like this is encouraged, they allow you to have cool boxes and your own drinks, they even lay on BBQ’s so you can cook up some steaks or snags....their only stipulation is no glass or alcohol.....which is obvious.

The clouds had come over while we were having lunch and by the time we had been on a couple more rides it had started raining and had turned chilly.  We’d had a fabulous time and were happy to call it a day.  We went back to the van and got changed (great thing about having your house with you at all times) and continued our journey to Brissie.

We had booked into a campsite in Newmarket, 4km outside the city, it was a good job as it was really busy, full of backpackers with vans smaller than ours.  We booked in for four nights, parked up and then went over the road to get some milk and a pizza......hitting the rides makes you hungry.

Friday 29th October 2010  

I woke up very excited ....IKEA today, there are four Ikea’s in Australia, Two in Sydney (one is still being built) one in Brisbane and one in Melbourne, I will visit all of them.  The one is Brissie was about 20km from us so it was back in the van for a day out.  Once we arrived we headed straight for the restaurant for a meatball breakfast....all the usual cooked breakfast items just with a serving of meatballs as well.  With full stomachs we set about following the arrows round Ikea Oooing and Arring at the different ideas.  I love it .... I know I am sad but I love Ikea.  We bought a few bits..not too much, there is really no room left in the van.  Had a hot dog and ice-cream on the way out...tradition, before jumping back in the van to visit some Big things. 

We found the Big Gun and the Big Cow, but couldn’t find the Big Redback as the building had been knocked down.... and somewhere there is a Big Paperclip.....but didn’t have an address for that.  We did a weekly shop at Aldi, the food is much better quality here than in the UK.  Went back to the campsite, parked up and had a beer.  We managed not to drink a drop during the should be proud of us.  We didn’t have any dinner as we were still too full from breakfast.

Saturday 30th October 2010

Got up leisurely, we are heading in to the city for the day.  Reception gave us a tourist map and the bus timetable so we are ready to explore the town.  The bus stop was at the end of the road and the buses stopped there every few minutes.  When we arrived in town we had a walk up the main shopping street full of big malls and then headed down to the river.  

Brisbane reminds me of London, only cleaner, I think it’s because the river snakes through the middle of it and there is an embankment, a Southbank with theatres, a big wheel and restaurants on the river’s edge.  Lots of tourist boats and fancy bridges crisscross the river.  The big difference is the excellent road system that is built out over the water, following the line of the river, giving them four lanes of free flowing traffic in the middle of the city.

We walked over one of the bridges to the Southbank Museum and spent two hours wandering round their excellent exhibitions.  One of the exhibits was on two Australian Explorers Burke and Wills, having read Bill Bryson’s book called Down Under (very good Read) we had already met these two characters.  Basically they set off in 1860 to journey from the south to the north of Australia, but they were the worst explorers ever.  They refused to barter with the natives, even when they were starving and the locals offered them food.  They carried unnecessary items like 6 tons of fire wood and a writing desk.  They eventually both died having completed they journey from Melbourne to the Gulf of Carpentaria, but both too weak to do the return trip they died in June 1861 from starvation.  Their colleague John King had no problem befriending the natives and survive to tell their story by living with the aborigines for three months until the rescue party found him.  The exhibition showed passages from their diaries and explained step by step their final was very good.

There was a fascinating bug and animal exhibition, showing all the thousands of different insects, snakes, spiders, that live in Australia.  As well a larger creatures like bats and birds.  There was also a dinosaur display.

We had lunch outside the museum and then walked over to take some picture of the big wheel and the river. We were meeting up with a friend of mine from work, Lauren, she is from Australia but was visiting over in the UK and worked with me a couple of times.  We had to get to the other side of town as we were meeting up at a riverside bar called the Broadwalk.  First stop was to pop into a Myers Store (Debenhams equivalent) for a squirt of perfume.  The overzealous sales staff made it difficult to just pop in a squirt, I had to go through the whole sales pitch, luckily for me they didn’t have the perfume I use so I fobbed them off by saying I would look round first.  So smelling nice and fresh we walked down to the river.  As we were a bit early Gary wanted to pop into an English Pub called the Pig ‘n’ Whistle for a PINT...yes a Pint!

We met Lauren at the Broadwalk, which had big wooden tables outside and was right on the river’s edge.  It was lovely to catch up, last time I had seen her I was very drunk at my work leaving do.....she filled me in on the stuff that happened after I left....which I have to say was very early considering it was my leaving do.....but then again I was VERY drunk.  We had a good catch up and drank lots of cider before leaving to get the bus home.   It was the fastest I have ever been in a bus.  The drive must have been an ex-F1 driver the speed he took that bus round, we knew we had to get off at stop no.20 we counted bus stops up to 17 but he whizzed by them so fast we couldn’t keep up and nearly missed our stop, it was a good job someone local was also getting off......who knows where we would have ended up!

Sunday 31st October 2010

Lazy Sunday, bacon butties for breakfast, laundry day for all the bedding and our clothes, set up the mozzie nets we bought in Ikea, which made the van look like a wedding marquee.  Had a disaster with the water dispenser, we have started buying the 10ltr water boxes rather than lots of bottles to save on room and they fit on the shelves in our cupboard nicely.  This particular one was a cardboard box with a bag of water the wine boxes.  It all went wrong when I tried to pull the tap out, being a bit heavy handed I ended up pulling the whole tap off which resulted in 10 litres of water rushing out the cupboard and on to the floor.  With a loud shriek I grabbed the box off the shelf and threw it outside where Gary caught it.  I spent the next 20min mopping up water......the water box lives outside now!!!

We are not getting our usual fix of footy out here, problems with the time differences and also the fact Australia has so much sport that it only shows Premiership Football on the Fox Satellite Channels which we can’t get in our little van.  Gary now has his mum text him the results of any Man U games and we look up the Premiership games on the BBC when we get internet access.

Made Chow Mein for dinner in Gary’s new frying pan, which has to be washed gently after each use and then season with a little oil before tucking it up in bed every night......!!!!  We sat outside under our mozzie net, with the lanterns burning with a bowl of sweets waiting for trick or treaters.  As none arrived we spent the evening receiving three phone calls on Skype and eating the sweet ourselves.

Clean sheets tonight...always nice.

Monday 1st November 2010

Gary’s turn to wake up excited, today we are visiting the Castlemaine XXXX brewery for their full tour with free beer tasting afterwards. We killed time all morning, I got the blog up to date while Gary made bacon his new frying pan.  We walked to the bus stop and jumped on the bus to town, we then got the train to the brewery.  We arrived an hour early, luckily there was a McDonalds and so we popped in for an Ice-Cream and took a long time eating it. 

The tour started at 2pm and sadly they didn’t allow photography in the factory area so we can’t show you the amazing machinery that fills, labels, tops and boxes the bottles ready for sending out.  An interesting fact about all the extract yeast gets sent to the Kraft factory to make Vegemite.  The tour was an hour long and really good, there was a good amount of history along with a walk round the actual factory.  Castlemaine make four types of beer, XXXX Bitter (full strength beer), XXXX Gold (mid strength lager), Summertime Lager (lo carb, full strength lager) and a Light Lager (which Gary wasn’t interested in). At the end of the tour we were shown into their onsite bar where we could use our four vouchers in exchange for beer.  I had a couple of bitters so Gary got to use two of mine, plus the barman didn’t take one of his vouchers so he had an extra drink and just as we were finishing our last drinks two guys on the other table gave him one each of their vouchers.... so we both had another drink.  We got chatting to a Dutch guy, who was over here for two months and travelling from Cairns to Melbourne in that time.  We left the brewery at 5pm, a little tipsy and made our way through the rush hour traffic back to the campsite, where we ate dinner and then put a film on......Gary didn’t see the opening titles before he was handing out the Z’s.
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