Burton's Perth to Cape York Gold Coast to Brisbane Day 27-30 26 to 29 April 2011

Monday, Apr 30, 2012 at 17:44

Mike & Amanda

Untethered from the camper trailer the big Cruiser feels like a racehorse, just raring to go. We navigated the early morning traffic and inevitable roadworks around Treasure Island ( I can't pronounce the suburb!), hitting the freeway for a short drive to Movie World. There were number plates from everywhere, although we didn't see any other sandgropers. Relieved of around $260 we made our way through the crowds, sat down at the nearest bench and analysed the map. I felt a little nervous as young Kate had been eying up the new Green Lantern roller coaster ride, a huge thing that can be seen for miles around. I had watched with amazement as it caroused up and down, upside down, twisting and looping until a cool spray and foul odour hinted at someone losing their breakfast. "Daddy, will you come on that ride with me?" I heard, as I involuntarily shuddered.

The layout of the place is superb. There are malls of old fashioned buildings and shops, done out in period styles like Art Deco. Old vehicles are parked here and there, Citroens and Dodges. Harry Potter's Diagon Alley Wizard's Shop is there, as well as many others, the atmosphere is very much like stepping back in time. We decided on the 4D Journey to the Centre of the Earth show queuing with groups of weird Japanese tourists. Many were dressed oddly, clothes my grandmother might have worn as a child, others were purple and black goths, still others prancing strangely to the background music, posing in bizarre positions for photographs. Most were rude, elbowing and shoving, obviously a different sense of personal space. Later, many wanted to take photographs of Jack and Kate in their Akubras, until we had to put a stop to it.

The 4D Journey to the Centre of the Earth was a movie theatre style show in 3D with moving, bucking seats and water sprays to try and add that fourth dimension of reality. The kids loved it, however it just gave us boring adults neckaches...next Kate dragged me to the Scooby Doo House of Horror, another violent roller coaster in the dark with lasers, screams, zombies and vertical plunges that your physiotherapist would not recommend, let alone your heart surgeon.....

I'm not a crowd person at the best of times, and although I've been working on my patience, Movie World tested both to the limits. I've learned queuing from experts in London, bureaucracy and obsequious stupidity from the best in Africa, yet the crowds at Movie World exceeded both. I endured for the sake of my children as I was dragged next to the Wild West Ride, Kate promising that I wouldn't get wet.......I watched sadly as the bedraggled looking adults exiting the last ride dripped miserably onto the concrete floor. This ride involved us gently floating through some sort of bizarre Viennese canal parody with wild west scenes arrayed either side, old coaches, cattle skulls and cacti...all quite pleasant really, without too much splashing. That was until some mechanical winch began to grate and crunch as it hauled us up a false rock looking mountain high above. Voices told us the "mountain was goin' to blow pilgrim...get out while ye can..." We rotated 180 degrees before plunging violently backwards downhill... The first cold soaking. Then hauled up again into darkness, the decor resembling an old mine, some bow-legged old cowboy telling us we were going to die before plunging straight down at high speed into a large body of water...yechht! Soaked! Thanks daughter! I was a little annoyed to spot a high speed photo taken on the way down showing steely eyed dad, eyes screwed up, mouth contorted and surely not....was that some dribble?

The high speed stunt driving in what looked to be an old movie set was very good. They pretended to make a movie with a couple of WRXs sliding every which way,some dude on a dirt bike robbing a bank and a frustrated movie producer being thwarted by a goofy extra. There was plenty of smoke, the smell of burnt rubber and the very loud squealing of tyres together with guns and blanks....all in all the kids enjoyed it except for the legions of weird Japanese tourist wanting to take their photo.

We encountered a very genuine looking (and sounding) Austin Powers, snuggling up to a reasonable facsimile of Marilyn Munroe and proclaiming "Yeah, are you kidding baby!".

The bumper cars (sorry, dodgem's now a days) provided great entertainment for both Kate and Jack as they constantly got off and got back on..they were a little under powered for me, much preferring the grunt of the Clubsport...

The grand parade in the centre mall was quite good. A very stern Batman, hanging off his very grunty looking bat mobile, huge impossible Arnie pecs bulging was followed by the insanely grinning Joker, a slinky Catwoman with an enticing black whip (LOL). Kate was more taken with a gigantic yellow Tweety Bird and an equally large Sylvester. The heavily made up Scooby Doo bunch followed with Shaggy and Scooby a big hit. The Justice League and Wonder Woman razzed up Kate enough for her to demand that we go to the frightening Green Lantern ride. Oh no I thought...this is where I die! Fortunately the little one was too small and didn't make the height restrictions and with Jack proclaiming loudly "no way will anyone get me on that insane ride..", I felt safe, at least until next time (shudder).

The rain started next morning as we headed out to the QLD version of Harbourtown to stock up on food and booze. This was a huge labyrinth of brand outlets with a half decent Woolies in the middle. We had a frustrating 45 minute wait for some raisin toast and coffee before spending all of Fort Knox's gold on our food for the next two weeks. The shops here are designed for outdoor type living and the increasing rain and plummeting temperatures made it a little unpleasant. Back in camp at Treasure Island it was now much quieter with the basketball teams and most tourists gone. The rain got heavier as we did some washing, using the driers as there was no way that it would dry otherwise. By early afternoon it was a torrential downpour, our canvass resembling multiple waterfalls. We put up our end extensions, and not too soon as it buckets down. This was the heaviest rain we'd seen in a very long time. A squizzy at the BOM site did not look good. Yellow and red patches for days....the next morning the caravan park resembled a swamp, large pools of water everywhere and all drains backed up. The nearest neighbours were living in a lake.

We sadly packed up in the heavy rain, the canvas the wettest we've ever experienced. The bed was carefully protected with our shower curtain, specially carried for the purpose but never used, until now. Amanda and I were soaked, and miserably dragged ourselves to the currently vacant laundry, stripped off our sodden tee shirts and threw them into the drier, using our last dollar coins.

The drive to Brissy was difficult. The roads were mainly concrete and did not disperse water at all well. Tail lights disappeared into the gloom at about 50 metres, visibility was shocking. Most people seem to see and keep clear of the large Cruiser and trailer.

The inbuilt Garmin and iPad TomTom agreed for once and easily found the Brisbane Holiday Village at Eight Mile Plains just south of the city. The receptionists couldn't have been more friendly or efficient, offering both of us wet, bedraggled looking sandgropers coffee. The Park appeared to be mostly chalets and permanents, with few travellers around. Our site was grassed with a concrete pad - all looking very wet, muddy and sodden. We set up everything in the rain, not much water having gotten inside, before evacuating to the on-site cafeteria. What a fantastic find, great menu selection, rapid friendly service and wonderful home cooked food at great prices! We dawdled over our meals, quaffing a coronas and coffees as the rain seemed to get heavier. The direction of the weather meant it was flying right in under the quick annexe into our outdoor living area. We deliberately had left our full annexe at home this trip, saving a great deal of weight, envisioning perfect tropical weather....ah well, the best laid plans.....the only thing to do was retire inside, afternoon nap, reading, lazing as the rain ominously became heavier, it banging down onto sodden canvas. I texted an old friend from my Monadelphous days who had been living and working in Brisbane for 6 years now. He invited us over to his flash bachelor pad on Southbank for a squiz, before having a meal at his favourite restaurant in Oxford Street. At first I thought that this was not one of my better decisions as we peered into the diminishing gloom, unable to see much out of the Cruiser's windscreen. Traffic was busy, we were later to learn there was footy on at the Gabba, right where we were heading. Some cars had slowed to 80 on the freeway, making driving very difficult and unpredictable. Good news, was that the BFG muddies gripped really well in the wet and traction wasn't an issue even at 100kph. We finally made it to Murray's condo, got the grand tour and the kids posed for photos on his massive Harley V Rod. The restaurant wasn't too far, obviously set up to view the river and Brisbane's outdoor lifestyle...sadly not to be tonight, it bucketing down heavily, causing us to drop everyone off before parking and donning coats, the cold now creeping in. We had a great time, reminiscing, discussing engineering, projects and coal seam gas. Australia does seem hell bent on raping itself and selling what's left to foreigners. I fear that only poisoned crumbs will be left, which is why I'm intent on showing the children outback Australia now. The Kimberley is under threat from Woodside and probably bauxite mining soon, the Cape will be bituminised and mining once again predominate...the forthcoming Liberal governments only interested in growth, the word sustainable an overused jaded marketing manager's joke. Downstream processing and manufacturing belongs to the Chinese, us still living off the sheep's back.

Enough of the misery, let's return to the rain and our sodden, bedraggled camper trailer. The drive home always seeming much quicker, even though the rain was heavier. Visibility was poor although traffic was less. The saturated canvas looked sad and forlorn in the glistening darkness. We quickly retired inside and found it to be damp but reasonably dry. The park was silent save for the sounds of running water everywhere. The hammering on the canvas was frightful, we had never camped in weather like this. We soon found that the inside roof seams were weeping, occasional ice cold droplets hitting exposed flesh. I rearranged our protective shower curtain wondering what had gone wrong with the canvas rewax job I did before we left. We used the original Wax Converters liquid and followed directions carefully. We concluded that this horrendous weather would defeat any canvas. Drifting off to the incessant roar of heavy rain we awoke to glimpse of blue sky. No one was wet, although the end of the bed and mattress were damp. Soon the warming sun leaked through straggling clouds and backed by a weak breeze commenced drying out the wet. The lawns were squelchy mudholes, and we feared they would never recover.

We zipped everything up and piled into the Cruiser to explore Brisbane City. My visits for work had shown me an attractive, well healed city not unlike Perth. The river snaked around a modern town with a predominantly young professional population cocooned by a great climate (except for the recent rain....oh, and last year's floods...ah, and the previous drought.....). Being a Sunday we found street parking on Turbot Street and headed around towards the Queen Street Mall. On the way we ogled at the magnificent St John's Cathedral, felt saddened by the photographs and wreaths laid in Anzac Square, and satiated by the sushi and pizza from the food hall. The Mall was bustling with people, the drizzle rushing us through until Jack and Kate spotted a bookshop. Soon I handed over the Visa as they grasped tightly their new purchases, books being something we never begrudge. We ambled down towards the Botanic Gardens, walked from the QUT around the river, seeing the mangroves and the sorry looking sailing vessels moored nearby, green fungus and age making them look worn and old. It was a good day out and we were heartened to find that everything had mostly dried out on our return. A wonderful meal at the Park Cafe, chatting with the friendly Lebanese owners who originated in Perth. A nice bottle of sauvignon blanc saw us meandering slowly back to the trailer, ready to head off in the morning to our personal Mecca, Caloundra and Australian Offroad Camper Trailers...
Mike & Amanda
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