Early Arrival -> A Tired Day
Trip Start Jul 17, 2006
7Trip End Jul 22, 2006
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After collecting our bags at the carousel and navigating our way to the Airtrain station we were served by the friendly and helpful lady at the desk, who issued our 5 day Smartpasses, and filled us in on how to use them and organise the free transfers.
As the first train of the day had departed whilst we were collecting our passes we waited for a few minutes on the platform for the arrival of the next service. Following a relatively long wait in the station the train set off in a southerly direction to Brisbane's CBD
Characterised by leisurely travelling speeds, a generous timetable and trains with low-back seats with busy coverings, Queensland Rail's Citytrain system isn't a shining example of how to run a city's train network.
Arrival into Roma St (Brisbane Transit Centre) station was on time, allowing us plenty of time to find lockers for our bags and some breakfast. The somewhat tired and old Brisbane Transit Centre offered us large lockers that weren't too expensive for a day's hire. In line with the centre's image and condition, the food court was half closed, providing a limited range of breakfast options. Maccas won out as food provider of choice; I had a bacon and egg McMuffin and a hash brown, while Belinda went "healthy" with a Maccas apple and yoghurt. Belinda's dirty confession of the day was that she has never had a McDonald's breakfast before, and this certainly doesn't count!
I took advantage of this sit-down to make our first contact with the outside world since arriving, calling Mum who was also in our time zone. We also did our timetable calculations to figure out which train to catch down to the Gold Coast and rang up to organise a transfer to meet this train.
Moving on from breakfast at a leisurely pace we headed back to the station to catch a train across the Brisbane River to South Brisbane Station
Basking in the morning sunlight we strolled slowly into the South Bank parklands, finding a bench on which to rest during Belinda's phone call to her parents back in Perth. We remained seated for a while chatting to kill time before slowly walking eastwards through the parklands, taking the time to enjoy the gardens, watch the ferries pass and explore the tropical boardwalk. By the time we made our way to the fake beach we had killed almost 40 minutes and the time was approaching to catch the CityCat ferry.
We waited on the jetty for a while, enjoying the skyline of Brisbane (albeit with an ugly raised freeway monstrosity along the river) in the morning light. Unfortunately our train transfer tickets were not valid on the ferry and neither were our WA uni student cards so we had to buy day return adult tickets for the 2 zone trip to Hawthorne. Unfortunately the seats were a little too conducive to sleep; prompting some prolonged dozing, almost resulting in us missing our stop!
Why make the trip on a ferry to a random riverside suburb in Brisbane? A short 5 minute walk from Hawthorne jetty is the Hawthorne cinema, the only place in Australia where one is able to see Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest projected digitally. We arrived at about 9:50am for the 10:15am session, meaning that we had to kill 10 minutes before they opened the cinema. Watching older women perform some sort of boot camp training regime in the neighbouring park was entertaining enough.
The cinema was an old outdoor auditorium that had been covered and converted to an indoor cinema, with 2 added screens. Our session was in the main auditorium, which featured a nice 17m wide screen although seating was not tiered and it got a bit cold.
The digital experience was fantastic; we both wish that they would show films projected digitally in Perth. The only detractor was the seating (low-back flippy chairs), the cold, us being tired, and the bugs that flew out from the curtain when it was opened, but who can complain when it was only $6 per ticket? The cinema's worth a visit if they're showing anything in digital - www.cineplex.com.au
We finished what was Belinda's second and my third viewing of the fantastic movie having only suffered a few short sleepy dozing moments, but still awake, and still enjoying the experience.
Back to the river we went, joining a rather full ferry that had just arrived at the wharf as we did. The cruise back to South Bank was rather uneventful and again was a good time for a little snooze or power nap. From the jetty it was off to South Brisbane station where we caught the next train back over the river to Roma St. Collecting our bags from the locker we took a final look at Brisbane before waiting on the platform for the train to the Gold Coast that we had selected earlier in the day when we organised the transfer.
Keeping with Citytrain tradition the train trundled south through Brisbane at a slow pace, despite making only a few stops. We paralleled a train of hopper wagons at Yeerongpilly, where it branched off on the triangle before I had a chance to view the locomotive. Once we cleared Beenleigh and got on the Gold Coast line itself we finally picked up speeds, zipping between the somewhat isolated stations at a good pace.
A highlight of the trip was a pair of girls that joined the train for a short trip at the end of our journey. "Common" would be an understatement.
At Nerang station we were greeted by our transfer driver, who showed us to the Tarago and helped us to load our cases into the trailer. We shared with a family of 3 who were dropped off in Surfer's before us as we were seated in the back, with minimal leg room.
We arrived at the apartments with just minutes to spare at 4:50pm. With the reception closing at 5pm, the lady behind the counter told us that she was getting worried that we were going to be late. Once done with the check-in paperwork we went to our apartment to discover that it was only a 1 bedroom setup instead of the 2 bedrooms we had paid for. A quick trip to the reception managed to have the problem rectified just before they left for the day, after we had managed to provide documentation to substantiate our claim.
Once settled into our new apartment, which was conveniently located at the top of 3 flights of stairs, we took a break to freshen up and plan the evening's movements. This break was also used to book our free transfer to the theme park for the next day (included in our Airtrain Gold Passes). It was decided that we would try out our travel pass and catch a bus down to Broadbeach to ride the Oasis Shopping Centre Monorail, find dinner and pop into the Woolworths down there for some provisions. The only problem was finding the bus. Our route map appeared to be out of date as they were revising some of their routes at the time, so we weren't able to find the route we had initially wanted to take, although we saw the route 750 go by our apartments and discovered that it serviced our need perfectly so we decided to catch that.
Our first instinct once off the bus was to gather food; hence we began the search for a suitable restaurant in which to have dinner. Several minutes of walking ended in us choosing a gourmet pizza place over the Chinese buffet. The pizza was nice and not too pricey, since we both decided to share the same pizza. Trekking onwards we stopped in at Cold Rock Ice creamery (which I had seen from the bus) for me to grab a little desert, which I enjoyed as we crossed the road to a gelato place for Belinda's desert. Eating and walking, we ventured back to Oasis to ride the monorail.
At the station we were all lined up with our $2 ready to put in the gate once it had been activated by the arrival of the monorail, until someone before us thought they had broken it and refused to go through. The driver then had to come out and open the manual gate so that we could get on. Unfortunately this monorail (same design as Sydney) is not the best advertisement for monorails as a modern, sleek and fast mode of transport. It crawls along at a laborious rate that is probably slower than walking pace. It does however offer great views of the streets below and is nicely integrated with the shopping centre, gliding silently overhead on its integrated supports. We crawled around the full loop before disembarking and getting a bit of footage as the train passed by the station on another trip.
We were headed through the shopping centre to Woolies on the ground floor to stock ourselves for the rest of the trip, picking up the essential supplies such as cereal, milk, bananas, mandarins and various other bits and pieces. Heavily laden with all our shopping we found our bus stop and waiting a few seconds for the bus (talk about good timing!), which whipped us home in a few short minutes.
We crashed back in the apartment and made for bed as we needed rest for the big day ahead.