The Home of Castlemaine XXXX
06.08.2010 - 08.08.2010
View Simon & Michelle Down Under on cooneys's travel map.
I’m typing this in Brisbane’s Domestic Airport terminal on Sunday morning. We are about to fly to the Whitsundays and we’re at the half way point of our Oz adventure – we’ve spent 9 nights in Oz and the next 9 will be spent in tropical north Queensland before heading on to Hong Kong.
We’ve spent the weekend in Brisbane and have been very impressed with what is the fastest growing city in Australia – it’s easy to see why. A winter’s day is 22c and sun, there are miles of beaches & vineyards nearby, and the city itself has great nightlife and shopping. People here really know how to party – it’s a bit like home, even on a cool winter’s night the women go out without coats and tend to get absolutely hammered – very different from Sydney.
Our hotel, the Inchcolm, was built about 100 years ago and has so much character including an old Victorian style double door lift. It also had a rooftop swimming pool which we had to ourselves when we arrived. There was a festival taking place in the city at the Royal Showgrounds which we went out which was Queensland’s answer to the Balmoral Show – Lynne, you would have been so proud of me. Like farmers back home, Queensland farmers love their 4X4 land rovers, but unlike home they all wear cowboy hats as beef cattle is the big farming activity there. The last few days has see such contrasts – hippies at Byron, Surfers at Paradise and now cowboys – it felt like we were in America’s Midwest. We saw baby lambs, llamas, snakes, chicks (the bird variety). There was also wine sampling which we enjoyed.
That evening we went out to a few bars and went to a smokehouse restaurant, the only one in Queensland which I discovered is actually managed by a Rangers fan from Scotland who gave me a free beer cos I supported the bears. The food was amazing.
Next day we headed on a river cruise to the Lone Pine Koala Park where we were able to cuddle a koala – they are even cuter than I thought – I wanted to bring one home but my ferocious little Suzi would probably tear it to shreds. At one stage we saw a koala move down the tree to another one, put its arm round its shoulder to cuddle it and they then both fell asleep – is there anything cuter in the world! The kangaroos were cool as well, we were able to walk in their enclosure and stroke them – they were so timid. The Tasmanian devil looks cute until it opens its mouth – teeth like a shark, absolutely crazy. The park had photos of famous people who had been there cuddling a koala – ranging from Eric Clapton, Goth rocker Marilyn Manson to Pope John Paul II – that certainly covers the entire spectrum.
So we’re now off to the white sand beaches of the Whitsundays so talk soon!