Brisbane City Centre and a Few Days of Rest

The Artificial Beach at South Bank

The Artificial Beach at South Bank

I woke up on our day planned for exploring the city with bad cramps (thank you mother nature) so I wasn’t feeling on top of my game. The weather seemed to agree with how i was feeling and was humid and overcast. Karen, Caitlin and I went for a stroll through a soggy Botanic Gardens and waked over the Goodwill Bridge to the trendy South Bank area and after windowshopping and peeking at the empty artificial beach we got sushi for lunch. By this point the heavens opened and I was really not feeling well and just wanted to go hide under a duvet, but we stuck around looking through the rainforest and temple (in the middle of a city, bizarre) and got gourmet hot chocolate. As soon as the rain wore off the humidity maxed out, and i could feel my hair puffing up Monica style, I’m not going to lie im looking forward to being able to straighten it properly when I am back in Inverness. Eventually we accidentally got the longest bus possible home which took us through some interesting areas and i got to nap at home. On Wednesday night Clint and I were home alone and whiled away the evening with films, beer and guitar hero while Caitlin and Karen went to see Carol King perform.

Thursday was pretty “cruisy” as the aussies say. Caitlin, Clint, Karen and I spent the day chilling and running errands, and I made a Amarula chocolate cheesecake for valentines dinner that evening with Clints parents, Helen and Lindsay. We had a beautifully relaxed 3 course dinner at home, and Helen and Lindsay entertained us by regaling stories of when they were in their 20s and had just met – after all it was Valentines Day!

Friday to Sunday was dedicated “Caitlin and Karina time”, since Karen sadly left early on Friday morning to go back to Durban. We went on walks, shopped and hung out. I feel so lucky to have grown up with a cousin who is the same age as me, we have shared the same childhood and I am glad that we get on like a house on fire. Or should i say a bushland on fire… I already feel sad about having to go back to the UK and saying goodbye.

Interesting sculpture at the Botanic Gardens, bet it looks good when the sky is blue

Interesting sculpture at the Botanic Gardens, bet it looks good when the sky is blue

The Eye and a pretty bouganvillia walkway in South Bank

The Eye and a pretty bouganvillia walkway in South Bank

Come to Brisbane the Said, The Sunshine State they said.

Come to Brisbane the Said, The Sunshine State they said.

Sushi in the City

Valentines roast pork!

Valentines roast pork!

Hangover hike along Mt Gravatt, you may notice the blue and white Carona hat in a lot of pics. It was a freebie because C&C bought so much Carona for the wedding!

Hangover hike along Mt Gravatt, you may notice the blue and white Carona hat in a lot of pics. It was a freebie because C&C bought so much Carona for the wedding! Creepy wink unintentional.

Byron Bay & Currumbin Animal Sanctuary

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Currumbin Beach, this was the view from the Surf Club

After a weekend of recovering from partying luckily i woke up on Monday back to normal, which was a relief since we had a massive day of touristing planned. Karen, Caitlin, Clint, Mark and i drove down the coast to Currumbin Animal Sanctuary to feed koalas, hold echidnas and watch crocs get fed amongst other things. The place was quiet until busloads of japanese tourists arrived, it was quite off putting. Fortunately we had seen enough and headed to Currumbin Surf Club for lunch. This was a restaurant perched on a big rock literally on the beach, with panoramic views of the sea. I had calamari for lunch, it was incredible eating fresh seafood looking out over to surfers paradise. Very memorable and delicious lunch!

We bid goodbye to Mark and headed to Byron Bay, which was an hours drive south. It was like going into another world. There were VW campervans and backpackers everywhere. Ive never seen a town that seemed to purely consist of young, chilled out hippies. There was even a guy sitting on his verandah smoking a bong waving at passers by. Clint had booked us into a shit hot holiday house for the night. This place was an incredible three bedroom house with a front porch, back patio, large lounge and kitchen and a big communal pool and BBQ area. Caitlin, Karen and I had a glorious early evening swim to cool down before cracking open the caronas and making a local pesto and chicken pasta for dinner. We spent the night playing frustration which is my new favourite card game, and drinking amarula. Everyone was so worn out by the sea air and days activity at the wildlife sanctuary that we were all in bed by 21:30.

The following day was just as hot and sunny and we made eggs benedict for breakfast and headed for the beach. Caitlin and i were reminiscing that when we were growing up we would take family holidays down the south coast of South Africa and stay in holiday cottages by the sea and have lots of family time, and here we were doing exactly the same thing on our own steam. The weather at the beach was sunny with dark clouds looming, and sadly because it rained overnight the sea was grey but it was still incredible to see all the drifters and vagrants on the beach. The beach sand in this country is so smooth and fine, i cant get over it. The current in the sea was mad strong, and as tempting as it was to get rescued by the hottie lifeguards i didnt stay in the sea for long. The girls spent a good few hours on the beach while Clint body surfed beyond the waves. At lunch time we took a stroll through the town and had a $12 cider and got fish tacos for lunch.

10 minutes north of Byron Bay sits Tyagarah nature reserve which is home to some natural tea tree lakes. In the car park there was a sign stating that sexual harassment will not be tolerated and what the number for the police hotline was. I thought this was weird but the reason became clear as soon as we stumbled upon the lake – it was nudist friendly! Bar the random naked old men this lake reminded me of the one described in The Life of Pi, a tangle of mangrove roots that opened out onto dark, deep water that had been warmed to bath water temperature by the sun. After overcoming my fear of snakes or creepy crawlies hiding in the depths i gingerly slipped into the water. These lakes are special because the water is infused by the fallen tea tree leaves so it is known to have medicinal properties – apparently aboriginal women would come down to the lakes to give birth. Creepy men lying on deckchairs touching themselves aside, it was a wonderful afternoon of lazing in the water and soaking in the tea tree goodness, I even got to read a few pages of my book! After a sleepy drive back to Brisbane we went to Leigh and Richie’s house for dinner. Leigh made delicious risotto and I brought along an amarula tiramasu for dessert.

Next post will be about my trip to the city centre, until then au revoir x

Kermit chilling with a roo with guns

Kermit chilling with a roo with guns

Clint, Mark & I on a croc

Clint, Mark & I on a croc at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary

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Feeding eels… Shudder

Kerm facing up to an anaconda

Kerm facing up to an anaconda

Gorgeous beach at Currumbin

Gorgeous beach at Currumbin

An "eskie" for our stay at Byron

An “eskie” for our stay at Byron

 

Byron Bay, grey skies and dark water since it rained all night. Was still hot though!

Byron Bay, grey skies and dark water since it rained all night. Was still hot though!

Gearing up for a day at the beach

Gearing up for a day at the beach

Tea Tree Lake, magical

Tea Tree Lake, magical

Stopped off for a cheeky strawberry sundae on the way home, this was the gift that kept on giving - vanilla ice cream, strawberries, strawberry ice cream in a cone and then topped with cream.... yum!

Stopped off for a cheeky strawberry sundae on the way home, this was the gift that kept on giving – vanilla ice cream, strawberries, strawberry ice cream in a cone and then topped with cream…. yum!

Roadtips and Weddings

Beware of Koalas and... Unicorns?

Beware of Koalas and… Unicorns?

Had a busy week! On Monday 4 Feb i finally got my luggage and went into the city with Karen using the bus. Brisbane really has its shit togethor regarding public transport, on one highway there is a seperate bus lane that runs parralel to the road so there are no buses clogging up the main roads. The jetlag eventually hit me after two days of feeling fine, and i had woken up feeling like i had been flattened by a bus. In the city we looked around a few malls and got cheap sushi for lunch, and headed to a district called Paddington to pick up a friends car. Paddington reminded me of Florida Road in Durban, super bohemian with alternative shops everywhere and a dotting of hippies. We picked up the car and went to meet Caitlin and Leigh to do some wedding shopping and went home. On Tuesday Karen and I went on a road trip up the Sunshine Coast and did a spot of exploration – we found the famous big pineapple and Australia Zoo, and visited a small village called Montville which was very olde worlde with little shops and pensioners everywhere. I really enjoyed our car journey, we had some good Aunt-Neice bonding, and i learnt more about Karens student days and what her and I dad got up to before my brothers and i were born. I am so grateful that my family all get along and we are so close.
Wednesday was spent running errands for the wedding and on Thursday we spent most of the day setting up the venue for the wedding on Friday. The venue was in a family friend’s back garden which was massive. The wedding on Friday was magnificent, such a laid back casual do. The grooms party wore boardshorts and flip flops(thongs lol) while the bridesmaids were glammed up in the full wedding regalia with professional hair + make up and a long gown. After the ceremony we partied HARD. There were two cocktail slushie mashines with homebrewed vodka in it – a whole 6 days later i still cannot stomach the thought of mango or passionfruit. Shudder. The band were excellent, they were set up on the pool deck with the dancefloor beneath it. It was amazing to party under the stars in the warm air. Unfortunately i dont have many memories from that night, so lets skim to the next day. Saturday and Sunday were pretty much written off as we spent them recovering and tidying up. Hand on heart i can say that that was the best wedding i had attended, so laid back and well catered for: friends, families, food and drink.

Aunt-Neice Roadtrip!

Aunt-Neice Roadtrip!

Giant Pinapple!

Giant Pinapple!

Cute shop in Montville

Cute shop in Montville

Could the grooms get any more oz

Could the grooms get any more oz

Getting s-faced

Getting s-faced

Meanwhile, in Australia

As i sat around the table on the hot patio of a holiday cottage surrounded by family and friends, tucking into bbq’d chicken and drinking, it hit me – you couldn’t get any more Australian than this. My first weekend in oz has been perfect. The journey across was arduous, my flight from Inverness to Manchester was delayed by half an hour, which resulted in my luggage not being loaded onto the Abu Dhabi flight in time. It is hard to describe the emotion one feels upon discovering that after 4 flights spanning 3 continents and time zones, your backpack isn’t on the baggage carousel. The worst part was that due to space issues I decided to put Kermit into my main luggage so i was sans frog.

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Hen weekend girls, spot the pale scot

Hen weekend girls, spot the pale scot

Anyways, fast forward two days of traveling and sleep deprivation to me getting greeted at the airport by Sue(cousin in law) who kindly took me shopping for an outfit before whisking me down to the Gold Coast to meet the rest of the ladies for Caitlin’s hen weekend. Despite only getting 4 hours sleep for the previous two nights I managed to stay awake until 10pm that night, after a day of relaxing on the verandah listening to tunes and catching up with everyone. The following day I was wide awake at 6am and eager to see the town we were staying in, Hastings Point. The novelty of waking up and stepping outside into bright, warm air will never wear off. I spent the morning walking along the beach with my fellow jetlag buddy Aunt Karen who flew across from South Africa.

My first sighting of the beach!

My first sighting of the beach!

Creepy jellyfish. When we asked a local if they would sting us he replied "Nah, they wont kill ya."

Creepy jellyfish. When we asked a local if they would sting us he replied “Nah, they wont kill ya.”

The beach was littered with these creepy big jellyfish, identical to the ones in Finding Nemo. The sea was beautifully warm, however i was too freaked out by the jellyfish(scardeycat Scot alert) to swim but we did swim in the lagoon later. There was this sweet little cafe called Ripples where Karen and I had Byron Bay coffee and breakfast – while an iguana casually watched over us. There is something so fundamentally good for the soul about dining al fresco, it is a pity it is near impossible to do in the UK – unless you are a fan of hypothermia.

Byron Bay Coffee, perfection

Byron Bay Coffee, perfection

Caitlin and I by the lagoon, i am trying really hard not to get sunburnt, hence the tourist hat

Caitlin and I by the lagoon, i am trying really hard not to get sunburnt, hence the tourist hat

After a day of frolicking by the lagoon Caitlin, Leigh (another bridesmaid), Karen and I headed back to Brisbane and i saw where i would be staying for the next 3 weeks. Caitlin and Clint have a beautiful 3 bedroom bungalow in the suburb of Wishart, with a large garden and veggie patch. My bedroom has been converted by Clints man cave, so it is fun to wake up to car posters in the morning. Sunday night was spent visiting Clint’s parents who live close by and afterwards we got food from a Malaysian restuarant which was divine – best tempura of my life! I managed to fit making a carrot cake with lemon cream cheese icing into the afternoon too, its interesting after a few days my hands itch to bake. Clint’s friend makes his own vodka and sambucca which we have been tucking into over the weekend, plus i got some cheap Smirnoff at Singapore duty free (£8 for 1litre!!!) so we are having lots of party times ja.

The lagoon which leads onto the beach. The sand was so white and clean that it squeaked - i thought that was a myth!

The lagoon which leads onto the beach. The sand was so white and clean that it squeaked – i thought that was a myth!

So far my first impressions of Australia are positive, it reminds me of the best parts of South Africa mixed with friendly, easy going locals. Caitlin and I have a “Meanwhile, in Australia” running joke, so i will endeavour to find the most Aussie pic. This week is filled with lots of wedding planning, so until next time my friends! xo