Friday 6 March, 4.27pm, Anchor Motel
Well doesn't time fly when you're having fun. March continues apace, and I find myself in Noosa, a sweet little seaside town on the Sunshine Coast. Not so glam or sleek as the Gold Coast, Sunshine is more about the natural beauties of Fraser Island, Hervey Bay and Airlie Beach - although one thing they do have in common up here with their southern neighbours is a fanatic devotion to searching for the perfect wave. Surfers roam the whole east coast, getting ready to swoop on any swell that comes their way.
So my time in Brisbane was all too brief, I could probably have filled another couple of days there, but hey ho. I managed to see a few interesting things while I was in town. The Museum of Brisbane was nice, they had a really interesting photography exhibition on the history of Brisbane and what the city means to its inhabitants. It's the 150th anniversary of the founding of Queensland this year, so they're getting very up on their history.
From there I moved on to the Museum of Queensland, which is ten times the size and has more of a natural history and environmental bent to it. It was interesting, especially the downstairs area, which was called the Sciencenter, and is essentially an Aussie version of something between Eureka and the Science Museum. Now, when I was a kid, I fricking loved
Eureka, it was my favourite day out, and when I moved to London, I was equally delighted by the Science Museum, so needless to say, I had a great time playing with all the interactive exhibits at the Sciencenter. A school trip blew through whilst I was there, and started pressing everything and screeching and
running around, and I beat a hasty retreat to another room, whilst silently thanking God I don't have any children. (Funny thing, actually, that's just reminded me; I've seen not one but two mothers this week who I felt desperately sorry for, one queuing in front of me in Starbucks and wrangling three children, one walking, one on her hip and one in a pushchair, whilst trying to divide one ice cream between the four of them whilst any child who didn't have it screamed; the second one seemed perfectly happy but had five children, all boys, who looked about 15, 7, 4, 2 and nine months, and all looked exactly the fucking same, and all ugly as fuck. It was bizarre, it was like she was cloning them somewhere.)
After emerging victorious from an attempt to build a dice out of nine blocks, I headed up to the Gallery of Modern Art to take a look around there. All the buildings in that area are pretty cool, they're all linked together in something
called the Discovery Trail. There's a raised path leading from each place to each other place, and they've all got the same exterior and the same lettering on the signs. It looks kind of utilitarian, but it's a clean look, architecturally speaking. There are two galleries, the Art Gallery and the Gallery of Modern Art, and I took a quick look at both, but unfortunately didn't have enough time before they shut to do each one properly. They had some cool sculptures though, which I always like, and some nifty usage of space with an indoor pool surrounding one sculpture, and a small pump at the back to make sure the water is always rippling.
The next day I took a little drive out of Brisbane centre down to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary (Lone Pine because Marty ran over the other one when he escaped from the barn, remember?). They started off with just two koalas there, but their numbers have blossomed over the years to over a hundred. I got to cuddle one. It was brilliant. Their fur is not very soft, but they have very sweet little faces, which look utterly disinterested by humans, and the one I was holding put her paw very gently on my face, which was so adorable I could have died. Fortunately, they have two thumbs, which was just weird enough to keep me grounded.
Though koalas are the main focus of the team at Lone Pine, the sanctuary is also home to two types of kangaroo,
wallabies, emus, Tasmanian devils, possums, wombats, sheep and other barnyard animals, frogs, snakes, a pair of dingoes (which do look spookily like regular dogs, you can see why people try and pet them), and dozens of types of birds, not to mention a ton of goannas and monitor lizards which just roam merrily about the joint, because they live in the trees, they're not officially part of the park - oh, and there's also a lone peacock I caught pecking around near my car in the parking lot. It's an interesting little group, and I really enjoyed visiting it. And now I know that kangaroos have much softer fur than koalas, which was a fact my life has been positively empty without. Empty!!
After the koalas, I went up to Mount Coot-tha to have a gander at the view, which was impressive, although slightly odd, to see such a built up area surrounding a mountain like that. Usually the views from high up feature a lot of trees, water, or both, but this was all roads and skyscrapers. Still, I had dinner at the top of the mountain while the sun went down, and the Brisbane skyline at night from on high was really something. And the food wasn't bad either.
The Gold Coast is famous for its theme parks, and there were two I really wanted to visit. Unfortunately, I didn't have time for Dreamworld, which is a shame, because they had some pretty cool rides, but I did manage to get to Warner Bros Movie World instead. As the name suggests, all the rides are movie-themed, with an emphasis on the kid-friendly, obviously (although somewhat surreally, there is a ride there called Lethal Weapon
- it was closed the day I was there though, so I didn't get to take the Riggs/Murtaugh experience). The best ride was the Superman
coaster, which involves you getting onto a Metropolis subway train, and just as you set off, an earthquake "hits", and the tunnel starts collapsing around you. All of a sudden, you hear "Superman" talking, saying he's going to fly you out of there, and then suddenly you're shooting forwards. It was a bit crap having that much build-up to the good bit, because I really don't require that much backstory on a goddamn rollercoaster, but the actual ride was fast and nifty. I liked. Somewhat bizarrely, the next best ride was the Scooby Doo ride, which seemed shite at first, and then all of a sudden rocked into a backwards loop and a sort of Wild Mousesque turn from side to side deal. Pretty cool.
They also have two Batman rides, one of which is one of those motion chair things, and the other one being a PlayStation ride (I know it's not called that anymore, but to anyone who grew up in the north west and is of a certain age, those shoot you into the air tower things will always be called PlayStations). Now, I could practically fall asleep on the Big One and I'd go on the Irn-Bru ten times in a row if it didn't involved walking all the way down and back up those steps again, but when I was a kid, I was always terrified of the PlayStation. It's the one thing at Blackpool I've never been on, and when I've seen them in other places, I've never been on one of those either. I loathe pirate ships, I can't even go on the tiny kiddie ones, so the PlayStation always looked like you'd get the same sensation but even worse. This one, however, looked more than a bit rubbish. It didn't even go all the way to the top on the first go, and subsequent bounces were tiny, so I braced myself and gave it a go. It was okay. Not that scary, so not that good, but not that scary in the bad way either.
Along with a few shows (such as Hollywood Stunt Drivers, a 3D mini-Shrek movie with all the proper cast, and a
deliciously cheesy Batman vs The Scarecrow live fight on Main Street), it was generally a good day out, although I think Dreamworld would probably have been better. Still, it was good stuff, and I made friends with three Aussie girls that I kept running into over and over (we seemed to be following the same itinerary quite by accident), so that was cool. And all too soon, my Brisbane adventure came to an end, and I moved on to Noosa. Tomorrow it's Australia Zoo day (crikey!), and then on to Rainbow Beach, so called because - believe it or not - they really do have multi-coloured sand. Can't wait.