Owing to the fact that nearly six weeks was spent at Uncle Kevin & Aunty Sylvia's place rather than travelling the entries have been condensed.
Sunday morning we just took a walk round the estate with half finished buildings all similar single 'units' & apparently most being built to customers specifications. The bungalow villa style was pleasing to the eye but being used to such a wide variety of styles it was a little strange.
In the afternoon Uncle Kev & Aunty Sylvia had to attend a conference in Surfers Paradise, just south of Brisbane so drove us the 1 & a half hours along the highway & dropped us in the so-called paradise for a couple of hours. After hearing so much raving about the place we were disappointed. Granted the cold evening weather (not compared to England but we had been in South East Asia's 30 - 40 degrees for 5mths) didn't help but we failed to see the appeal of towering skyscraper appartments & hotels along the main stretch of road that literally blocked the sun, keeping the mediocre stretch of sandy beach in perpetual darkness all day long. Wandering round the 'town' itself we saw a mix of tourist shops, rowdy bars & reasonably clean, paved paths. Definately a place for young people to hang out but our bitterness at being unable to enjoy the place without money tainted our view. After briefly amusing ourselves in the aptly named Condom Shop we crossed back to our rendezvous & were picked up at 7pm. We made great time as the roads were virtually empty so we soon reached the house where we chilled out for the rest of the evening watching a film on Uncle Kev's huge plasma t.v.
Monday was a day spent preparing for when we'd eventually get work, setting up a tax file number online & opening a Commonwealth joint bank account at Morayfield Shopping Centre on the edge of Caboolture town. We even tried to get work through Centrelink (a kind of Aussie job centre) but needed to be residents to use their services. A quick trip to Aldi for a food shop (the vastness of product types never ceases to amaze me) & we were set for the day.
Tuesday we sent emails to companies involved with the hugely popular Ekka, an annual Queensland show which now differs considerably from it's original purpose in 1876 (when it had been a showcase for advances in agriculture & industry), containing amongst other things a fairground, side show alley, animal parades, equestrian shows & lots of canteens & stalls. Owing to our arrival in Oz only days before the Ekka was to start we didn't hold out much hope of work but there were still a few catering & showbag (themed bags of commercail merchandise often incredibly expensive) positions advertised.
That afternoon Uncle Kev drove us to a major beauty spot of Caboolture (about thirty minutes from Morayfield) the Glasshouse Mountains. Named by Captain James Cook, who thought they looked like the huge glass furnaces of his home in Yorkshire, the mountains were the remains of long extinct volcanic cores & have served as a national park since 1994. They were so big that we had actually seen them from Bribie estuary a few days before, silhouetted against the fiery red horizon but were magnificent up close.
Uncle Kev led us up a concrete path that steepened as we came to the top of Beerburrum Mountain & from there we climbed up a ranger tower where we could see the countryside for miles around, forests, fields even the edge of Brisbane & the sea. After enjoying a picnic & boosting ourselves on XS energy drinks we climbed back down stopped at the visitors centre for info on the surrounding area & then were taken to one of the most beautiful coastlines of south east Queensland, Caloundra.
The town had come a long way from the politician Robert Bulcock's garden in 1875 - with its' own shopping centre, mass of appartments, chain shops, takeaways & trendy restaurants & boosting of five pristine sandy beaches. We walked along the partially repaired boardwalk to Kings Beach & were treated to delicious cakes & lattes as we watched the brave surfers negotiating huge rips in the sea.
We drove back to the house for 5pm.
Wednesday we got up early, grabbed a quick breakfast & were driven by Uncle Kev into Brisbane where we were dropped off at South Bank for the day. The recreational corner of the big city was picturesque, lots of small park areas, tropical forests, even an out door swimming pool with fake beach (which was unfortunately closed for a revamp). A path/cycle track traced the route of the Brisbane River & one could either walk across one of the three bridges linking it to the city centre (Kurilpa foot bridge was still being finished though) or take the Citycat ferry. We decided to explore a bit first, passing the trendy area with posh clothes shops & expensive restaurants, the Art Museum, Library & cinema. On the other side we walked past a small number of restaurants, Tinbilly Hostel & a number of curio shops then being collared by a tout were taken to Peterpan (the agency not the character though that would be cool) where we were convinced to part with $30 each for a 3 mth VIP membership entitling us to discounts on the travel agency's prices & access to the job agency. The long list of work - catering, data entry, fruitpicking, office/marketing, nannying, etc made us hopeful. The rep would be in touch.
Walking to the shopping precinct made up of 4 to 5 main streets - Queens Street, Adelaide, Edward, Albert we looked round the shops on & underneath them where Vix bought shoes then after lunch we enjoyed exploring the nearby Botanical Gardens, a massive tropical jungle garden with park areas, cycle routes & some of the most stunning flora & fauna. We got back to South Bank 4ish & were picked up an hour later.
Thursday we spent most of the day lazing on sunbeds in the back garden chatting to Aunty Sylvia & her sister Linda apart from a trip to Morayfield Shopping Centre where I bought shoes & a jumper (it was cold still) & Vicky a jumper, jeans & top from Target. In the evening we were treated to another of Uncle Kev's culinary delights chicken with honey, sweet chilli & a secret ingredient with rice & curled up on the comfy sofas to watch more Aussie t.v. - a micky take comedy called Double Take (which apparently did a remarkably accurate impression of the PM Kevin Rudd) & an inferior version of Harry Hill's TV Burb (in that there was no Harry Hill & the Oz take on his jokes didn't fit).
Friday was more exciting, at least for me. Whilst Vicky was a lazy bum sleeping & sunbathing I was driven by Uncle Kev to Mount Cooroy, just past the Glasshouse Mountains, on his way to work. Getting permission from the bottled water company to walk on their premises I strolled up the dirt path to the base of the mountain & with radio blairing began my 45 minute ascent struggling through thick trees & rubble. At 10am I reached the top & was rewarded with amazing views of the valley - small ponds/lakes, farms, forests then further away bigger lakes & the sea. I found a comfortable rock to lie on & relaxed in the pleasant heat & silence after phoning Uncle Kev. An hour & a half later I climbed back down, the going much tougher as I slip/slide downwards. Back at the bottom I enquired about a job working for the water company & was told to send an email. On the edge of the driveway I sat down to wait for Uncle Kev, politely declined offers of a lift from confused staff. I was picked up at 12.40pm & back at the house for 2pm where Vicky was picked up & we contented ourselves dolphin-watching at Bribie.
Saturday after a few breezy hours in the garden we were given a lift by Linda to the train station an hour later were in Brisbane. We ate lunch opposite the Suncorp Plaza, fighting off the pigeons & checked out Peterpans for jobs. Half five we got the train back & were enjoying instant pasta with sour cream, chives & sausage by 6.50pm.