18th September 2008
This island is amazing. It’s like being on the island from Lost. Honestly, I can’t really convey how crazy it is, but hopefully some of the photo’s are convincing enough!
After some hassle I finally got access to the commercial hotspot at the nearby resort so I could post an update on here, so here we go.
On saturday we got up bright and early to catch the MICAT ferry across to Moreton Island – a large sand island just north-east of Brisbane. The journey here was pleasant enough, with the catamaran being nice and stable and no problems on the way. Everything went a bit mental when we go to the island, however. Our jaws dropped when we saw the place, it’s like something from a desert island movie.
The primary mode of transportation here are hefty 4×4’s (seriously hefty 4×4’s, not wimpy SUV’s or anything. I mean like monster-trucks). Somewhat unprepared for this, we arranged for a lift from the bloke who owns the house we’re renting for a week, who happened to be on the beach that the MICAT landed on.
<- I took this while we were waiting for said lift. There are some wrecks just off the main resort beach, which look amazing. Apparently the area used to be a whaling station, though I don’t know if the wrecks are whaling boats or not.
The journey to the house was somewhat unsettling as the fellow driving gave us an impromptu nature lesson on the island. It mostly involved words like ‘snakes’, ‘kill you’, ‘spiders’, ‘white ants in every piece of wood’, and ‘sharks’.
The island is really incredible though. The sand is very strange and soft, apparently it’s very high is silica or something, which gives it odd properties. Apparently the sand cleans and desalinates the water, so large freshwater lakes occur on the island like on Fraser Island. We’re going to visit one of those tomorrow.
As you can see in this photo, the sea is amazingly clear. ->
When you’re in it its like looking through glass. We noticed when we were swimming in it the other day, that there was a school of fish swimming around us. Really amazing.
It’s odd really, because there is a smallish resort down the hill from our house, which you would think would spoil the area a bit, but the island feels really natural and unspoilt. It is a nature reserve, so the resort probably is strictly limited in what it can and can’t do, which sets a nice balance in my opinion. You’re never to far away from civilisation, but the scary bush wilderness is less than a minutes walk away.
Now, we’ve stopped in some nice houses on this trip, the one on the sunshine coast was especially fancy (and expensive!). We weren’t expecting much from this house (referred to hereafter as ‘Sea-Change’), but boy were we in for a surprise. The chap who owns it said it’s on the market at the moment for 1.8 million AUD, and we can see why. Its amazing. The cinema room is a JOKE, the screen is epic and the sound system is incredible. It is just about everything you could want, the facilities and bedrooms are fantastic. It has a balcony which looks out over the beach and hills, it’s the most amazing view:
As you can see, its pretty epic. Out of interest, the wrecks you can see in this photo are the one’s Mat is appreciating in the 2nd photo above. I’ll get some photo’s of the house when its all tidied up again, as usual we’ve turned this one into a tip after only 3 days.
So, yesterday we went on the sandboarding trip. There’s a HUGE artificial sand dune nicknamed ‘The Desert’ a couple of kilometers from Sea Change, which is now used for all sorts of things, not least of which is ‘sandboarding’, basically just flying down the dune head-first on a waxed board of masonite. Now, we were suitably apprehensive about this as Mick, Dave’s brother-in-law, is a doctor and told us of a patient he had who broke his neck sandboarding. Then, in the house’s guestbook: “Thanks heaps and we look forward to returning, next time, hopefully without a broken collar bone from sandboarding! Josh and Mel”. The tour guide reassured us that no-one had died yet this week, so we set out on the trip.
The dune was huge.
After we climbed to the top, of all the people on the tour no-one dared go first. So I manned up. In the heat of the moment I forgot all the instructions (and common sense) and ended up putting one hand down into the sand (at about 40 mph) and eating about a pound of sand. Not the least sucessful run however, Mat ended up bailing off the board about halfway down, and there is the most amazing photo of Dave waiting to come back from the photo shop. Honestly, you’re going to love it when I scan it and upload it.
The trip out to the dune was eventful too – the part about monster trucks wasn’t even a joke. The trail was insane, I don’t know how the driver bloke kept the huge 4×4 bus/jeep/humvee/tank thing on the ‘road’. It had broken windows from past impacts and jolts. At one point Mog hockey-checked Ben in the air over one massive bump, landing him square in the aisle of the bus. Everyone pointed and laughed.
These stairs are the bane of my life. They are the ones from our house to the beach. Not only are they extremely treacherous, they are also murder for someone as unfit as me.
Furthermore, as I write this, Ben has just walked in having been attacked by a snake on them (allegedly). I’m not looking forward to my next journey on them.
As for the rest of the week, we might rent some quad-bikes and have a ride round the island, and we’re set to visit the freshwater lakes on friday. I need to finish off my reel of Super 8 (who’d have thought 3 minutes 20 seconds would be a challenge to use up?) so hopefully I’ll get some more good footage at the lakes!
I think I can safely say this island stay has been the perfect way to round off our trip to Oz, I think we’ve seen a great cross section of what QLD has to offer so far.
I’m not sure if I’ll get another opportunity to update while on the island, the internet here is a joke, so maybe the next update will be at the hotel on the last night in Oz.
See you soon,
13th September 2008
Well well! As predicted it’s been a busy week.
Ben, Mog and I checked out the Picasso and His Collection exhibit at the Brisbane Gallery Of Modern Art on wednesday, which was really interesting. It’s Picasso’s own collection together with some of his works, with the thematic parallels and styles that inspired them all explained as the exhibit went on. I hadn’t realised quite how much of his work was inspired by african tribal art, or how much of it was inspired by visits to brothels. My personal favourite was Portrait Marguerite by Henri Matisse, which was given to Picasso as a gift. I just think it’s really vibrant and attractive, plus it’s a bit more accessible than some of Picasso’s more abstract works that were on show.
That evening we went to the pictures (as is our ritual) and saw Tropic Thunder. It was pretty funny, if a bit offbeat for an american comedy. Bit surprised to see so many jokes at the expense of mentally handicapped people in a yank film though, but I guess if you can’t laugh at yourself then what can you laugh at (zing!).
Earlier that day we spent a while wandering through the sizable Botanical Gardens in the city. They are drastically better than Sheffield’s. I guess the climate is much more conducive to more exotic plants which made it a much more interesting place visually. It borders the river along one edge, and the walk along it was pretty awesome as there are lots of yachts and stuff coming and going from the nearby marina.
To the left is a photo of a particularly cool tree in the gardens. It’s surprising how mature some of the vegetation was given the age of the city compared to some in the UK. Having said that, the gardens in sheffield is only 40 or so years older, so I guess it’s not that surprising. It’s nice to see something with heritage in a city that is so modern and new.
On thursday we spent some time in the city exploring near the Eagle St. pier. This is where a lot of the skyscrapers are based and the area with a lot of fancy restaurants and bars on the waterfront. We made a reservation at Cha Cha Char‘s, which got rave reviews on the web (it won best steak restaurant in brisbane for like 5 years running, as well as loads of national awards. I wonder if the UK has a ‘best steak restaurant in the country award’?).
The place was very nice, it was a fine dining establishment, so predictably we felt underdressed (despite a suitably tipsy businessman appreciating me at the bar and trying to chat me up…grim) and we weren’t really reassured by the restaurants award for ‘best informal dress restaurant’ as practically everyone was in a suit. I ordered the Salt and Pepper Squid starter, which was amazing. It seems everything here has an asain touch to it, the squid (and infact all the starters) were served with an oriental style salad. It was easily the best squid I’ve ever had, and the portions were pretty generous. I ordered the Marbled Wagyu Rump steak for main course (I enquired about the most expensive cut on the menu, the ‘Highly Marbled Wagyu Steak’, and it was $90 (about 45 quid) – a little more expensive than I’d like spend, although depressingly not much more. I love a good steak.). The cut that came was massive, and extremely tasty. The waiter had suggested I have it medium-rare instead of rare due to the marbling, but honestly I’d be surprised if it had made much difference. It was cooked to perfection and was very tender and tasty.
After the meal, we walked through the jungle of skyscrapers to the famous casino, housed in the old treasury building. Mog, Mat and Ben lost $250 (125 quid) between them on the roulette wheel inside 20 minutes (mat in 1 spin). I, however, more than doubled my money (I changed $70 into chips) on the roulette table, which is quite a turn up for the books. Didn’t last long though, I lost it all (about $150 – 70 quid) on the blackjack table. That table was a joke. I swear the casino was rigged. We saw the roulette table hit 0 – house wins – 4 times in about 10 spins. Pretty long odds! At blackjack I drew a 6 and a 4, hit an ace and stuck, thankful that my bet of $25 was about to be doubled – alas, the dealer hit pontoon and I lost. After this humiliation, we went down to the poker pits and watched the texas hold ’em games. After analysing the games for a long while, we resolved to come back and compete if we had time later in the week.
Friday, we set out to visit Australia Zoo, home of the late Steve Irwin. Now, I liked the chap, I thought he was good fun and had a good message about conservation, but Oz Zoo was like going to a Scientology meeting. The reverence and status they afford him there is well scary. The way they talked about him on the videos that play around the Zoo said it all for me. Classics like ‘Steve Irwin was a visionary and a true Wildlife Warrior, but he was but one man – if one man could acheive such greatness in his short lifetime, blah blah blah’. You honestly would think they were talking about Jesus or something. Not to detract from the work Mr Irwin did of course, but it’s still pretty weird. His family is on every bit of merchandising and branding in the park. I’m not sure its healthy to force his kids to make a fitness tape, or make them do a reel of Steve’s famous lines while holding a big crocodile (they even showed the ‘cute’ blooper reel where they were obviously just getting the little kid to say the names of the animals by rote learning, followed by ‘crikey!’ or ‘what a beauty!’).
We finally got to see a tazmanian devil too, and it was SO worth it. They really are crazily animated. It annoyed me a bit that people would rather see a boring crocodile sit there and do nothing, than see the elephants or tigers (which were AMAZING). Sadly my camera’s acting up again, so all the photos of them are on his camera. The Wombats are pretty amazing too, I wanted to steal one.
Today we’re preparing for the island and having a barbeque back at the house, which should be neat. I hope we don’t bother the neighbours, I’m not sure I could deal with an angry Paul Robinson coming round, even if he does have a bum leg.
10th September 2008
Ben arrived on monday morning with no major hiccups, so thus starts the busy week in Brisbane city!
Yesterday we went to Lone Pine animal sanctuary to see all the crazy wildlife there and hold a koala or two. It was pretty neat, there was a big field full of Kangaroos and a few Emu’s where you could just hang around with them which was a little weird but they didn’t seem to mind. Me and Mog held koala’s, but mat and ben wimped out:
(I’ll upload the rest of the animal photos to the gallery).
Today we’re going to try and get through some of the things to do in the city, like see the botanical gardens and ride the CityCat. Ideally we’d like to see an AFL game before we go, so we’ll try and sort that too.
Catch you laters,
7th September 2008
I can’t believe we’ve been here 2 weeks already, it’s mental. This week is going to be manic – Ben gets in early monday morning and we’ve got loads to see and do in the city, not least of which is have lots more O’Portos and Hungry Jacks.
Todays the second day we’ve spent in our 3rd house, hereafter referred to as ‘kangaroo point’, and so far its pretty good. We were worried it’d be a bit shoddy compared to the epic house we stayed in on the coast, but it’s actually pretty good. It’s like a vintage queenslander house, so its on stilts and is very airy. It’s also about 5 seconds from a macdonalds and a KFC, so I anticipate gaining a few stone.
Ok, so I’ve missed a week of updates, I’ll catch up now:
- The flu is going round, and it sucks. I can hear mat’s hacking cough as I type. I’m basically over it now, but my sinuses are still killing me – apparently pseudoephedrine is a tightly controlled substance here, I had to show my drivers licence to get some Sudafed type stuff, crazy meth-smoking ozzies.
- Dave’s Birthday – was last friday. I was waaaay dead from the flu so I just wallowed in bed while Dave got drunk and breakdanced. Mat’s got a load of cool photos from that night, you’ll have to wait to see them though as he doesn’t have his camera cable. Yesterday we went for a birthday meal at Rocio’s house, which was pretty great as Roc’s family had put on an awesome football themed spread. Rocio’s family are El Salvadoran and so the food and cake were all pretty awesome and exotic. I hadn’t been able to eat, smell or taste anything for like 4 days, so this was a pretty great reintroduction to food! I can’t even spell, let alone pronounce any of what we had, though. I’ll find out later.Rocio bought Dave an MPD24 for his birthday, something he’s been going on about for aaages. Hopefully it’ll turn him into the new Dr Dre.
- The Juan Street house was mental:
It was ultra modern inside and had really weird high tech controls for everything. It also had a jacuzzi on the second floor and every room was ensuite. Sorry there aren’t any photos of the inside (I think mat has some though), my digital camera was knackered at the start of the week (I think the memory card is duff) – I saved the photos to disk and formatted it and it seems to be ok for now. By this point the apartment was a tip, so I didn’t bother taking any of the inside!
….so many hijinxs were had:
….and obligatory sandcastles:
At the end of last week, we gathered on the south bank to watch the Brisbane River Festival ‘RiverFire‘ fireworks show, along with half the population of Brissy. It was mental. It started with an RAAF F1-11 jet doing a flyover the river dumping and burning fuel behind it (which looked amazing and was really loud), then a 35 minute musically choreographed fireworks display across the whole river and city skyline (all the skyscrapers and bridges were covered in fireworks too). Mog has the whole thing on his video camera, my digital decided to pack in right then, sigh). You can see the F1-11 and some of the fireworks in this video:
(we were stood closer to the water and away from the trees but not far from where the video was taken)
I think the activities on the cards this week are: Meet Ben, go to the casino, go out to some bars in Brisbane, hang out in the cafe culture here a bit, play about making songs on Daves MPD, go to Australia Zoo, go to Lone Pine animal place to hold some Koalas and a snake, have some BBQs, go to the massive art gallery, busk to pay for it all, etc…
5th September 2008
A whole week without an update! We’ve spent the week at our second house in Mooloolaba on the sunshine coast, and sadly there’s been no unprotected wifi we could nick all week. I’ll do a full update with photo’s as soon as I can get a decent and reliable connection.
So far the weeks been pretty good, the beach is so close to the house. I’ve had a touch of man-flu though, thankfully it’s only laid me out on the days it chucked it down!
Check back soon,
29th August 2008
I think my sleeping pattern is finally adjusting to these crazy Ozzie days. Jetlag is very weird, I feel fine when the sun is out and then as soon as it goes dark its like ultra-fatigue just hits me. Suffice it to say I’ve been mocked extensively for constantly being asleep.
One of the weird parts of waking up in the middle of the night here is hearing the wildlife – it’s mental. The bird calls are so loud and elaborate, the bats make crazy noises, theres weird marsupials all over the place, and the spiders are a joke. Mat woke up with a mantis on his face the other night. The bats are literally like pterodactyls.
Last night we managed to get a load of photos of a particularly brave possum that we lured onto the upstairs deck with garlic bread:
So far we’ve been taking it easy in the city, just chilling and seeing the main shopping areas of the city. Yesterday we caught the bus to Rocio’s house in the suburbs (the houses there are massive) to have breakfast with Roc’s family. They put on a brilliant breakfast/brunch, it was like a hotel or something. I’ve gotten a fair few polaroids already, I’ve put them in my travelogue notebook (which I’ll scan when I get back). As a side note I also saw Mat in just his underwear tonight.. all I can say is hot! I can’t wait to ‘tap that’ when we have to share a room during the third week!
Anyway, on Saturday we’re going to a little nature reserve where we can hold snakes and koalas near Rocs house, so hopefully I’ll get some good pictures then (if I’m not headbutted by an emu first).
We’re going to have a wander into the city again shortly, I’m going to pick up some strings for Roc’s brothers guitar that he’s lending me for the trip – and probably have an O’Portos chicken burger while we’re at it.
27th August 2008
Hurrah! Actually, we landed yesterday, but I was so knackered that I’ve just slept for about 14 hours from 4pm (local time) yesterday.
The flight was alright, albeit pretty cramped on the Heathrow-Singapore-Melbourne leg. The food was ok (mat and mog hated it), and the cabin crew were alright. Having a wee in turbulence is very hard. Most of the inflight entertainment was provided by mat, in the form of watching his comatose form flop around in the turbulence. He can sleep through anything.
Unfortunately for Mog, his case has been lost. He’s sorting his insurance and tracking out now. Which brings me to another point – out of all the staff in the airports, airplanes, etc… we’ve encountered so far, by far the most impolite, incompetant and moronic personell were all british. I sound like a BBC Have Your Say reader.
We’re just going to have a wander to the shops for some essentials and that,
p.s. I’ve uploaded a few pictures to the gallery.
20th August 2008
T-minus 3 days, 19 hours, 53 minutes…
Okay, so the blog is created and the pages that go with it, hopefully everything will be sorted by the time we set off this sunday. Not much left to sort now!
Another plane crash this morning, this time in Spain. Not very reassuring. Having said that, if Mog beats me on MarioKart DS enough times during the flight, I think I’ll just jump out of the plane voluntarily.