So, I finally get to visit Queensland, even if it was on a work trip.
Spent the first night and day with my brother who took me for a tour of the region in his company car (free fuel!) and took in a few sights including a huge hill to the west which provides magnificent 360 degree views of the area, and an awesome view of Brisbane city. I gotta say, lovely region, very nice to visit, but I was sort of getting tired of the constant monologue on how far the water got here, there, and over there too, surely there is something more to see than the flood line?
Later that night we took in an act at Murphys pub in Ipswitch city. Great singer, he had an awesome sense of humor, and the bar had more Kiwi’s than Aussies in the audience.
Sadly, the usual dramas that accompany alcohol and the presence of my sibling and I raised their ugly heads and I ended up on a midnight hitch hiking mission to get to Surfers so I could check in to my hotel the next day.
I will keep the details of what went down to myself, it was too bizarre to absorb, I still have trouble believing the chain of events.
Suffice to say I know now not to share any sensitive discussions with my dearest mother, seems these topics get shared far and wide with a twist of self interpretation thrown in for good measure and get used as ammunition in family feuds…. as they say you can choose your friends….
My hitch hiking adventure!
That’s an interesting story in itself, how a 60 year old ex ambo officer picked me up within minutes of reaching the edge of the road (at midnight too) and offered me a ride all the way if I could put in 20$ for gas – DEAL!
2 hours later I was sheltering in McDonalds on the beachfront at Surfers paradise, nursing bad coffee and wondering how long it was till I could drop my luggage off at the hotel.
The imprints of my fingers on her dashboard will take some weeks to fade I am sure.
6am and I drop the bags off to the hotel, the proceeded to wander off and explore Surfers in a fog of hung-over fatigue and bourbon fumes.
I took a series of pictures of the sun rising out of the Pacific Ocean, found a cheap breakfast, and indulged in a few iced tea’s to alleviate the dehydration of my hangover.
Spent a nice day hanging out on the beaches and in the shopping center, and was mightily impressed with the manner in which the Aussie retailers were not raping and pillaging the tourists. Standard prices applied everywhere!
Were this Rotorua, Taupo, Queenstown, Russel (tourist towns) in NZ I would have expected the prices of everything to be double! Not so at all in Surfers, where I was able to buy beers at the local bars for the same price they had cost me in Murphys pub.
I guess the vendors in Surfers like the concept of repeat business, a lesson many new Zealand tourist destinations could learn well from.
Everything you could ever want or need is in Surfers Paradise, there is even an indoor shooting range! 45$ later I had squeezed off 3 magazines worth of 9mm parabellum ammo at a shadowy figure 15 meters down range, and didn’t do too badly for my first ever turn on a handgun, 36 rounds spent and 34 were in the center circle, two had cut the line with the next outer ring.
Mr Instructor told me I was a natural and should consider entering the sport, funny that’s the same thing I got told when I had a crack at clay target shooting with Kiwbank on the Corporate Challenge, where I nailed 11 of my 12 targets.
Hanging round on the beachfront with a book and unsuitably dressed in jeans and a wool anorak top I must have stood out a bit.
One of the local coppers decided to check on me as I had a wee doze in a shady spot, but once we established I was here on business, and was just enjoying the sunny seaside views, all was good in his world again and he even suggested a nice place I could get lunch and a cold beer without breaking the bank. Nice bloke, scary seeing a massive cannon on his hip though.
So come 2pm, I check in to the hotel, start meeting other folk from all over NZ and Australia there for the conference, and hit the bar for food, drink and company. The rest was all standard IT conference stuff, with food, bourbon, wine, beer and lots of learning and sharing. There was even a nights dancing!
Mantra Legends hotel where I stayed, on the 20th floor, was amazing.
Cheap enough, luxurious enough, and all the mod cons. Just be aware, is you choose the Seafood Buffet best to have taken a second mortgage, I certainly didn’t see the price on the menu but saw it on the hotel bill!
Two days of business later, to meet my 850am flight the shuttle firm wanted me ready at the hotel door at 330am!
So… dutifully I am loaded, waiting, ready… and no bus. I was sorely displaced over this scheduling fubar….
4am he pulls in, gets me to Brisbane airport at 5am, there is nothing open! Finding myself sitting round out of hours in Australia is becoming a habit…. bit like a homeless person with money is how I was starting to feel.
So now, finally, boarding time… and no plane. The boarding gates empty…. where’s my plane?
Virgin Airlines could really use a lesson in communications… our flight was delayed 3 hours and we had to find out for ourselves, no announcement, no staff at the gate to explain… but I did bump into an old mate in the airport I hadn’t seen in 22 years so we had a good time catching up to pass the hours.
Overall, I loved Surfers Paradise.
Even Ipswitch and Brisbane were great to visit. Pity about the fallout with the sibling…. but hell, you can choose your friends…..
See you on the shiny side.