Forget chocolate bunnies, Easter 2010 was all about sun, sea and scenery, as Tom and I took our first inter-state holiday in southern Queensland. Home to Australia's third largest city, Brisbane, and the famous Gold Coast beaches, Queensland is a holiday destination for the masses, and it was very obvious why. Our host for the weekend was super-guide Merryl, who I've introduced on the blog several times before, but for those who you haven't read all of the previous editions (and shame on you!), Merryl is Tom's second cousin, and emigrated to Australia from the UK as a teenager. Super-guide is perhaps an understatement, as Merryl planned an unbelievable itinerary of sights that took us not just around the city of Brisbane but also all over southern Queensland. Merryl was not only a great tour guide but an uncomplaining chauffeur, and we zipped around to all of our destinations in her blue Honda Jazz (Dad I know you'll be jealous!).
We flew from Melbourne to Brisbane on Good Friday morning, and our plan for the day was to explore Brisbane. We took a long walk on the stunning southbank of the Brisbane River - it really reminded us of London's Southbank, with similar architecture (think Royal Festival Hall), a wheel almost as good as the London Eye, and several bridges crossing the river into the CBD. What Brisbane had to trump London however, was beautiful park areas and foliage, plus two outdoor swimming areas! It was the southbanks of all southbanks, in my opinion.
At the end of our walk awaited a blast from the past - and old friend from Bath university, Lisa Price - who since I last saw her 6 years ago has become Lisa Brownhill, mummy to Rhys and resident of Australia! Needless to say, we had a lot to catch up on, and it was great to meet her husband Richard and gorgeous little boy. Avid readers of my blog will know how baby-deprived I've felt since leaving Dora, Amelie, Ben, Ellie etc behind in the UK so any local babies are much doted upon.
Back at Merryl's house in the suburb of Daisy Hill, we were at one with nature. The house is on the edge of the forest, and built on a hill, so her first floor dining veranda is at mid-level tree height and provides a fantastic viewing opportunity for the local flora and fauna. Tom loved it, but you all know how I feel about bugs, and as darkness closed in whilst we ate our dinner, I couldn't hide my wandering eyes as I kept an eye on the moths, spiders and little geckos that were running around on the ceiling above us! Merryl tried to tell us about the spiders in the house before Tom immediately interrupted her with, "I don't think Katie needs to know about that at all thank you...!". Flashbacks of our Christmas trip and the huntsman spider encounter were fresh in both our minds, and Tom didn't fancy having that trauma on his hands again!
There were more beaches ahead of us on Sunday, but this time it was Surfers Paradise – just as beautiful a beach as Noosa, but totally contrasting surroundings. Instead of parklands and little hotels, it was skyscraper city, with dozens upon dozens of high rise apartment blocks to cater to the mass of tourists that flock to Surfers. The Costa del Sol of Australia is perhaps a fitting description, and it is this part of town that earns Brisbane it’s nickname of ‘BrisVegas’. Lots of the theme parks are in the vicinity, but we didn’t have time to visit so have put these in the list for next time. We had find time to swim however – my first proper swim in the Ocean here in Australia! The water was clear and warm and the waves were HUGE! I’d love to have a photographic record of my first Aussie swim, but unfortunately although Tom was left on the beach in charge of the camera, he didn’t take a photo!
The rest of the weekend went by in a flash, so quickly in fact that we’ll definitely try to go back to Queensland and spend more time seeing the beautifully scenery and ticking off some of the zoos, aquariums and theme parks. Brisbane is only a two and a quarter hour flight from Melbourne, so it’s close enough to go for a weekend I think. We weren’t totally devoid of Easter tradition, with yummy Easter bunnies from Merryl, and a very lively debate about religion during Easter drinks with some of her friends!
Coming up over the next few weeks are lots of dinners with friends, Melbourne Comedy Festival, and plenty of sport – Aussie Rules football and Pacific Rim Gymnastics Championships. We’ve also booked some theatre and a weekend away in local-spa town Dayelsford and will be arriving back in the UK 7 weeks today! We are looking forward to catching up with you all....
Here’s some more Queensland photos to close:
Kate, this one is for you - the first in hopefully a long list of Australia's 'BIG' landmarks that we will spot!