So I arrived in Brisbane and having learnt from the fail of the crappy hostel I’d stayed in for the grand total of two hours on my first visit, I had booked a couple of nights in the YHA, which I wished I had stayed in before
. Luckily for me, it was as lovely as I had imagined with a clean, well equipped kitchen whose cutlery and crockery I didn’t have to pay to use unlike the other place and my bed actually looked like a tramp hadn’t slept in it. Such luxury. The only problem was the patchy weather but I was only really stopping over before heading to my next stop in a couple of days time, Noosa, where my friend Surfer Alex was staying, (remember him, ridiculously buff boy I met in Byron Bay? Keep up!) I was lucky enough to have some really nice roommates, including a guy called James who was technically a local but had a wonderfully polished English accent. He was also a huge fan of Stephen Fry, Christopher Hitchens and very keen on jazz and classical music. For a 22 year old who had left school at 16 and worked in a bakery, he was remarkably well read and painfully cultured, I was in awe of his intelligence and his wit. After encountering the Australian species of male at its worst in the sticks only hours before, it was refreshing to meet someone who actually vindicated Aussie men from the depths of true depravity. I spent the afternoon shopping for essentials that I had been lacking in the countryside. My nails were still filthy from the mud, I looked like a proper heathen and made a point of hiding my hands at every opportunity, no matter how hard I scrubbed, I couldn’t get the muck off my fingers. Into the bargain, I had an infection in my feet from having them submerged in muddy water for twelve hours a day
. Apologies if you've just settled down for tea whilst reading this! I felt disgusting and just wanted to hide in the nearest cupboard. After a dinner of fried rice and copious amounts of tea to try and bring me back to life, I crawled into bed, exhausted.
On Sunday morning, James and I headed out for coffee. As a local, he knew all the best places and we went out for breakfast in the West End which was lovely. The weather was changeable, very like Melbourne at times with blustery showers and spells of hot sunshine. Sitting in a little café sipping a latte and having some awesome poached eggs made me realise how much I had missed the city, and indeed how much I missed Sunday mornings in Glasgow in my other home, the Tinderbox with a cup of coffee and the papers. Being out in the country with very little distraction had often left me alone with my thoughts and nearly every day I questioned why I was out in Australia and what I was doing here. But being away from a place distorts your perception of it, one looks back and remembers only the good times. Despite the numerous setbacks I have experienced here in Australia, I have never once regretted my decision to come out here, the places I have seen and the people I have met far outweigh the truly terrible things that have happened to me since I left Scotland last year.
Afterwards, James and I did what I would normally do on a Sunday back home, have a meander round the lovely bookshops that the West End boasts and drink yet more coffee. Something that I also learned from our coffee expedition was the difference between a 'cup’ and a ‘mug.’ Oblivious, in each place we’d been visiting, I had been asking for a ‘large latte’ I had been asked whether I wanted this in a mug or a cup. I answered in a mug, unaware that not only was this more expensive but that a mug included an extra shot of coffee. So by the time I went to visit my expat Scottish friends in the early afternoon, I was absolutely buzzing and on the verge of having a heart attack from the sheer amount of caffeine I’d ingested! Ooooooops!
Ross and Hazel had very kindly rescued me on my first visit to Brisbane from my terrible hostel and I had to tell them about the awful things that had happened to me out at the farm. They were also moving house and it was lovely to see them again and give them a hand with packing in between telling my horror stories of being half starved and worked into submission by my evil boss. This was interspersed with drinking enough Assam tea to sink the Bismarck and having Hobnobs, a rare commodity Down Under which was just lovely. Being out here has taught me many things, apart from anything else, realising how lucky I am to have such lovely friends out here, from Richard and Mel in Melbourne to Ross and Hazel in Brisbane whose generosity has been unparalleled. I was almost sad to leave Brisbane on Monday but knew I had to keep going up the Coast, after all, no matter what, I had to get to Cairns, whether it bankrupted me or not!
But first stop, Noosa! :)
** Please note I have chosen not to talk about my regional work in my blog at this stage in my trip but feel free to look at my pictures of my time there :) **
After escaping the true hell that was my second round of regional work, I arrived back in Brisbane by Greyhound, physically drained but overwhelmed with relief of getting away from that place alive, unharmed and with my dignity in tact. Once again, my wallet had felt the full brunt of it but I couldn't help but think that it was another one of my experiences out here that had strengthened me as a person. If this awful treatment had happened to me within two weeks of me arriving in Australia I can quite honestly say that I would have packed my bags and got on the first flight home to Glasgow as it would have destroyed my mentality and nerve to staying out here. Sadly however, as most of you know, it wasn't the first time I had been subjected to such abuse and I could walk away knowing that I was fundamentally a better human being than that bastard.