Departing En Zed for Oh Zed (OZ)

Trip Start Dec 03, 2005
Trip End Jun 20, 2006

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Flag of Australia  ,
Thursday, January 26, 2006

early morn flight get into Brisbane 11 ish.
I stayed in a hostel in Brisbane which belonged to the pub downstairs, and was styled as an English pub, named the Wheelbarrow and Elephant, and served English beer. We had one night out when one of the hostel staff, a girl from England who was on a working visa for a year in Australia, and had talked her way into a job with the hostel, tried to get the residents at the hostel to mix more on the social level. In fact this mission was fairly successful, enticing us with discounted prices to go for a meal in the pub on an evening when later on they had live music laid on.
It was Australia day a couple of days after I arrived, which I suppose is like their version of USA's independence day, but there was not a huge amount happening that I noticed along the streets, other than more discount prices on drinks at all the pubs, sorry, bars.
When I asked the hostel manager what he (and what other Aussies normally) would do for Australia day, his reply was he was taking the afternoon off and going to his in-laws house for "a barbie". I commented that I thought Aussies had barbies practically every day of the year, and he had to agree that was much the case.
In fact on that theme, I discovered how much they worship the barbecue, when walking through a public park and noticed a group of small brick structures. These were barbecues, provided by the park authorities, and had electricity running into them. I tried one of the big buttons expecting nothing to happen as I hadn't booked its use, but it sprang into life - no coin or token slot - no need to get someone's permission. This I have been reliably told, is commonplace through most of Australia! I wonder if a letter to Brighton Parks department could see this amenity being adopted at home (lets go on dreaming!)
Soon on the back of this, was the Chinese New Year, which is celebrated in a big way in Brisbane, where there is a very large Chinatown area. In fact, my hostel is right on the Chinatown doorstep, which is good for choices of restaurant for anyone who enjoys Chinese food. The best bits for me have been the acrobatics which were laid on the day they opened the new year ceremonies, and the police closed off the main road. There was a huge spectator turnout, but the only annoyance was that the preparations seemed to take forever, and an even longer wait ensued when the town councillor, Chinese community representatives, and anyone it seemed who had had any business liaison with the Chinese, made long repetitive speeches.
However the lion dances, especially high up on special poles that had been erected for the occasion, were truly exciting.
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