So we rolled into Brisbane on May 17th with grey clouds hanging heavy in the sky that only cleared once or twice throughout the week, allowing us to get out and about around the new city. We found a fairly cheap camp site 4-5km out from the city centre and set up home for a week (sorry I keep talking in kilometres but we are so used to it by now, for us English folk that's 3 and a bit miles). With our heads in the New Testament we had found a few things worth taking a look at whilst we were there. Bert has been well over due a service so we booked him in at a mechanic just a stones through away from the camp site to get his essentials changed and looked at. He got the green light and past all of his tests even though the mechanics said it needed this done to it and that done to it. As far as we are concerned he is road worthy and in working order and we love him just the way he is. Anyway, some days the clouds would part and we would take walks into the city centre for a look around and for a spot of exercise too. It didn't take long to get there and it was great to stretch our legs. Brisbane city centre is a very fresh modern environment, a lot like Sydney but without the rush and with a chilled out vibe in the air. It's not to big either and finding your way round on foot with a basic map is a doddle. The days it rained we hung about the camp site giving Bert a spring clean (even though it is winter here) and buried our heads into our books.
On the Friday we had booked a tour around the Castlemaine Perkins XXXX Brewery and the sun had popped his head out for the day. So we walked into town to make the most of the weather and took the scenic route down to the brewery via the Brisbane river. The tour itself was great, we got to see then inner workings of the brewery as we walked through the heart of the heritage listed site. Our tour guide was a smashing bloke, always cracking daft jokes that were right up my street. He looked like a squashed down Rolf Harris making my appreciation of his jokes even fonder. He knew the place inside out and any question you had for him he was on it straight away, I suppose it's his job to be. At the start of the tour we learnt about the history of beer and picked up some good facts. Beer was in fact created by women, so the next time they are on your back for drinking too much fella's just say “Well pet, you've only got your own kind to blame”. The 'X' mark for beer spans back to the 1600's when monks used to mark the bottles with an X to indicate how strong the beer was, the more X's on the bottle the stronger it was. We also learnt where a few sayings came from like 'Get off Scott free' and 'Mind your P's and Q's', now I love anything like this as I get to add it to my useless information section of my brain. Well back in the day of the many old taverns of Old England, beer was served on a tab basis to customers and the waitress had to remember what beer was being served and how much to each customer. It would be served in Pints or Quarts and the tavern manager would call out to the ladies serving the ale “Mind your P's and Q's” to remind them to keep tabs on what they were serving. Around this time also if you drank ale in London, the price of the ale would increase as you would have to pay a tax on the alcohol. The name of this tax was the Scott tax. So if you were drinking ale further up north you were known to be getting off Scott free. Just a little nugget of information for you there. I'm sure the next time you are down the pub you will be sharing these little nuggets of facts with your fellow drinkers. Along the tour we also learnt about the raw ingredients, the brewing process and the packaging process. All very interesting but very thirsty work all the same. Good job that they have an in-house Ale house to wet the whistle after the tour. We got to sample drinks in with the tour and me and Ash set about tasting each different one with great enthusiasm. It was great to know that it was brewery fresh and we even got to sample an authentic XXXX wooden cask ale that didn’t even touch the sides as it was that good. So leaving the brewery a little tiddly, we wobbled our way back to the camp site trying to remember where getting off Scott free and mind your P's and Q's came from.
The rest of our time in Brisbane was spent walking about checking out a few art galleries, a Greek festival and the Queensland Museum. The day of the Greek festival was a bit of a shame, we had walked about 8km (sorry I mean 5 miles) to get there and we were looking forward to it thinking it would be a big food festival with stalls selling Greek cheeses and cured meats. It turned out to be a small fun fair with a food court selling Greek food at extortionate prices, we spent $50 on a few things to eat that were delicious but we could have got a lot more for what we paid else where. After paying $16 dollars to get into the festival, we left an hour or so later as we were board ridged. I think we were more disappointed than anything else. But all was not lost that day and we stumbled across the Queensland Museum and thought with it being free it was defiantly worth a look around. We had a good old giggle in that place and just acted daft having fun with the props and displays within the museum. Every time we saw a board were you put your face through the hole with a picture on the other side we would take a photo or get somebody else to for us. One woman we asked thought we were mental and you could see her saying “grow up” in her mind but we were far to busy being silly for any of that. All in all after the Greek festival disappointment we turned the day around into an enjoyable one.
Leaving Brisbane on the 24th we drove an hour or so up the road and into the beautiful Sunshine Coast, destination, the Glass House Mountains. Rising high above the green subtropical hinterland are the 16 volcanic crags that make up the Glass House Mountains. The mountains were named by Lieutenant James Cook in 1770. It is believed that Cook thought the peaks resembled the glass furnaces of his home town in Yorkshire, England. First we drove to the Glass House Mountains lookout that provides an fine view of the peaks and the distant beaches. If you like a good walk or hike you are spoilt for choice here. We opted for something a bit more intense and decided to tackle the hike to the summit of Mount Ngungun. It is only 253metres to the summit but it is still a bit challenging as you clamber up steep rock faces and rough pathways. It got the heart beating that's for sure. Once we reached the top we took a seat at the summit to catch our breath and to absorb the views. It was something else as you got a 360 degree view of the four major peaks and we were both pleased to now be able to say that we have sat on the summit of a mountain. After 30 minutes or so we gingerly made our way back down Mount Ngungun and drove to a local free rest area to spend the night ready for the next day.
Now this day was something I was particularly looking forward to as it was the day that I would be able to hold a Koala. We took the short drive up Steve Irwin Highway and pulled into Australia Zoo at 9am. Now this place is a homage to the wildlife super-enthusiast Steve Irwin and home to a remarkable assortment of critters. This is not the normal passive zoo experience but rather an exotic animal extravaganza featuring a number of different informative shows throughout the day as the animals are fed. The zoo itself is a massive complex and we spent the whole day walking round seeing every animal we could. Highlight of the day had to be getting to hold a koala. As soon as the handler placed him in my arms he rubbed his head into my chest to get comfortable and nearly fell asleep the fluffy little b*****. Their claws are razor sharp and even though I had a thick hoodie on it still felt like I had needles in my shoulder where the koala had been gripping it. Another great hands on experience had to be feeding the kangaroos. This was magic. As you walk up to them, loads of kangaroos just lay about soaking up the sun. As soon as they hear the rustle of the feeding bag they hop up to you and give you a look that can only say “Giz a bit of that!” One kangaroo that came up to us had a little Joey in its pouch with its head sticking out. It was quite mesmerising watching them move around and hoping in and out of the pouches. As you walk round the zoo you see pictures of Steve Irwin and hear his voice from videos of the Crocodile Hunter being played. These act as a sad reminder that the bloke is no longer with us but it is great to see that all his hard work and enthusiasm is still alive and kicking within the zoo. At the crock show we all participated in a little tribute to Steve by shouting his favourite word 'CRIKEY' before the large salt water crocodile came into the Crocoseum for the days informative show. Overall it is great to see that his legacy lives on. After an animal packed day, we drove up to another free rest area and spent the night talking of all the animals we wanted to take home from the zoo with us.
Today we drove up to the Caloundra taking a little detour to check out another big thing. So far we have seen the Big Ram, the Big Banana and the Big Orange. We can now add the Big Pineapple to that list. It wasn’t technically open to visitors but we popped in for a quick photo opportunity anyway and hopped straight back into the van for the road to Caloundra. Its a canny beach community with seven different beaches linked up by a fine promenade. The beaches have a grand backdrop of the Glass House mountains making it an ideal base for beach lovers and those wanting to keep life pretty simple. Give us this place over Surfers Paradise any day of the week,. We are staying on a camp site right on Dicky Beach and we spent the day walking up the fine white sand whilst counting down the hours to our main reason for being in Caloundra. Not long now as at 3.30pm on Friday 27th we will be boarding a plane to do something I have wanted to do for so many years now. It begins with S and ends in KYDIVE! Even thinking about it now sets off the nervous excitement bubbling away within our stomachs. Now that should be something to write about.
Love Peter and Ashleigh x
MAM AND RAY Hi as usual another interesting blog son really enjoyed it .Iv just been looking at the photos of your Skydive and thay looked amazing .It must have been a fantastic experience just one more to add to your ever increasing never ending list of things to do before you get old eh ? well done you two !! god know,s what you have got planed next i dread to think , keep on doing what you do best and live the dream stay safe love and miss you heaps XXXXXXXXXXX :O)
MAM & DAD Yet another great blog Peter, and well done on the skydive the both of you, great photos the view looks fantastic. Keep enjoying your selfs, keep safe Lots of love MAM & DAD XXXXXXXXXXXXXX