Has been a while since I last updated, have reached Melbourne but we'll start with some stories about my time in Brisbane. After leaving Noosa in the evening, Dan and I (well me really) did some night driving and arrived in Brisbane about midnight. It was the first big city we had to deal with in Australia and finding somewhere to park for the night became a bit of a nightmare. We ended up driving straight through the city into a southern suburb and sleeping on what we thought was a quite back road. We found out in the morning though that we were right next to a train station and so had all the businessmen walking past us in the morning! Undecided of how to get into the city, we took a drive and found that the parking was really expensive so we drove back to where we were and got the train in instead. Our first impression of Brisbane was a good one, lots of nice buildings compared to the other austalian towns we had been in and there was a nice view of the city from across the river. I guess the sunshine and blue skies helped as well. Our mission for the first day was to find Dan's mate Rob who I also met in Singapore as he had arrived in Brisbane from Indonesia the day before. We met up and shared some travel stories before heading over to Southbank and wandering through some of the museums and art galleries. Dan had managed to secure us another couch to stay on and so we headed back to the van with an address in hand. It was the first time we had 3 in the van and it was pretty cramped up in the front, it felt as though we were off to paint someones house, all we needed was a packet of crisps and a copy of the Sun on our dashboard. After much searching we found the house which we were pretty suspicious of at first glance. The door was ajar and there was rubbish all over the front lawn. We slowly peered in to see a living room full of mattresses and bags as well as guy wrapped in a sleeping bag. We moved through to the kitchen which was filthy, calling out Hello as we went but no-one seemed to be home. Finally someone met us and everyone was outside in the shed behind the house. We were welcomed by a guy who seemed high on something and said that we could help ourselves to the kitchen which we took full advantage of. So we were basically living in a squat, apparently the police had been around that day doing a routine drug search, but the place was somehow quite inviting. There were 4 guys who lived there and the other 11 were couchsurfers who were just passing through. We cooked out dinner and sat out on the balcony before Dan and I slept in the van, not wanted to rest our heads on the manky pillows they offered!
The following morning we caught the ferry into the centre of town and started with a wander around a lifestyles market on southbank. I ended up buying a didgeridoo from one of the stalls that was painted infront of me, as I had been looking out for a cheap but decent one ever since my didgeridoo lesson in Airlie Beach. The rest of our day didn't really involve much more but a wander around the city centre and we ended up booking some tickets to that evenings AFL (Aussie Rules) game at the Gabba (according to Dan this is a famous cricket ground??). After some dinner back at the squat we headed off to see the Brisbane Lions play the West Coast Eagles. The atmosphere inside the stadium was electric and I tried to understand the rules of the game as it went along. By the end of the match I had a reasonable understanding of what was going on, but we weren't all that impressed by the sport. It didn't seem to involve much skill, it wasn't actually all that interesting to watch and it was so long with 2 hours of gameplay! But we had a good evening all together. Back at home we helped ourselves to the BBQ food which include Kangaroo burgers!
Dan and I visited the Brisbane museum on the morning of our final day but it was a huge let down and so after a quick wander through the botanical gardens, we found a grassy spot and chilled out in the sun, knowing that this was probably the last of our warm weather! We met Rob in the afternoon and ended up going to see the new Batman film which was great and hugely popular, I guess cause Heath Ledger was Australian all the Aussies wanted to see his last performance. I filled up on MnM's which was a luxury on my budget and we went to see a free comedy show we had heard about at the Brisbane Powerhouse, a very arty venue made within the old power station. The first couple of acts were pretty funny local acts, but the final act turned out to be a guy from London called Stephen Amos who we all recognised but didn't know where from. It turned out he had been a TV quite a few times and had done the Royal Variety Show back home. He was hilarious and we got chatting to him after the show. He even invited us out to dinner but unfortunately there wasn't enough space in his car! Was a great evening, even better that it was free!
Brisbane was definitely the best Australian town so far, it hasn't got such an open and industrial feel about it like so many of the other towns, and has some pretty old buildings from Aussie standards. There was a lot to see and do and the weather was some of the best yet so we all had a pretty good time there. But a city is a city and so after 3 days we headed on south towards our next stop which was the surfing town of Byron Bay.