Saturday 6th to Wednesday 10th September – Brisbane area road trip

On Saturday morning I got ready and checked out of the hostel in Maroochydore.  Stuart wasn’t quite as sprightly but eventually we were ready to leave.  He was driving and we headed South down the coast.  En route we stopped at the most amazing beach (in Caloundra), drank white wine (well I did) and admired the ridiculously good, young surfers.  There were also dogs to watch and one in particular (a dalmatian called Molly) was awesome.  She was far more interested in eating some horrible, dead, sand-encrusted creature than playing fetch with her owner.  She was also a delight to watch when other dogs arrived on the beach.  After a little while appreciating the sounds, sights, sun and sand we continued South via a few places we decided not to stop at.  Eventually we managed to find a campsite in Caboolture.  When I say eventually here we drove up and down the same road several times.  Upon arrival Stuart took a long time trying to cook bacon on his camp stove, much to my amusement, prior to realising that it wasn’t actually turned on properly.  When he discovered this and corrected the error it actually worked pretty quickly.

The following morning I woke up feeling like I had slept on several large boulders as the van was not particularly comfortable.  We left the campsite and decided to head South via Bribie Island having both heard good things about it.  I’m not sure whether it was due to half of Brisbane apparently being there on a weekend jolly, or whether it was more built up than we expected but neither of us were particularly impressed by it so headed pretty much straight off the island again.  Well that is after Stuart bought an airbed and a lilo, the latter at my suggestion.

We carried on from Bribie Island through some pretty spectacular scenery.  At one point we were in rolling farmlands with field upon field.  We headed through D’Aguilar (which I re-named Christina) and passed Mount Nee.  The views were amazing, as were some of the roads.  We took a road which was a designated tourist drive with a creature on the sign which looked like a manatee but is apparently some kind of animal native only to certain parts of Australia.  Although this was very good at first, as you had to pay less attention to where you were going, we soon realised that you did have to pay -some- attention as we found ourselves backtracking a number of times as we blindly followed the little brown signs back down and round roads we had previously driven on.

The names, as in much of Australia, were reassuringly English and we passed through places like Scarborough, Margate and Brighton.  None of which, it has to be said, looked particularly like their namesakes back home!  After getting slightly annoyed with the pesky manatee like creatures which seemed to like sending us in ever decreasing circles, it was actually quite a relief when a new brown sign told us that the tourist route was about to finish.  We were on the outskirts of Brisbane and found a friendly motel and, more importantly, had a night sleep without waking up feeling crippled.

The following morning we left the Bracken Ridge area and headed to Ipswich.  This was largely my doing due to the fact I wanted to see if this Ipswich was anything like the Ipswich near my parents’ house.  We stopped at an out of town shopping centre and I booked my flight to Sydney.  We didn’t actually head into Ipswich itself afterwards but I’d be willing to wager a fair amount that it bore no resemblance to its Suffolk counterpart.  They should twin places like that, now that would confuse people, i.e. "Ipswich, twinned with the town of Ipswich".  Maybe I should write to someone to suggest it….or maybe not!  Anyway, we carried on driving to Darra where I had a cunning plan to avoid backtracking on the motorway in order to get to the Valley of the lakes.  Unfortunately my cunning plan was thwarted by the scale of our map and the fact that all roads in Darra seemed to lead to the railway track and to do so several times.  At one point I thought I had sussed it until the road we were on quickly decreased in size and we ended up next to some kind of factory.  Eventually we got to Mount Crosby, which is where we were trying to get to, and drove to Fernvale.  We passed through Lowood as it seemed slightly uninspiring and settled in Esk.  Esk was the most amazing town with wooden fronted saloon type pubs and the most beautiful views.  We set the van up with the airbed and lilo combo (I got the airbed) and headed into town for dinner and a quick drink.  Well that’s what we thought we were doing.  At this point it was around half eight and when we hit the high street (that’s a bit optimistic as a term there actually "the street" would have sufficed) everything was shut.  We went into a garage and then asked a passing motorcyclist who informed us that the pub shut at seven thirty.  Seven thirty?  There was apparently one restaurant which he thought might be open which subsequently wasn’t.  So we headed back to the camp, had some wine and retired to the, now more comfortable, van.

Tuesday was my Birthday.  I know, I know, you’ve all sent Ferraris, champagne and rich bachelors to my home address so thought it unnecessary to wish me electronic greetings.  Anyway, we headed off towards Kilcoy which turned out to be somewhat uninspiring.  We turned off onto a smaller road and headed to the Somerset dam.  The dam itself was awesome with a huge jet of powerful water speeding out of it.  I got out and took several pictures before realising that my comedy squatting angles probably looked to other motorists like I had been cut short.  Did I just misquote another saying?  Oh well, I’m allowed, it was my Birthday after all.  The drive around the dam area was one of my favourite sections as the road closely followed large lakes.  We headed via Brisbane valley to lake Wivenhoe which was equally spectacular.  After which we turned left towards D’Aguilar National Park.  When we turned right onto the mountain tourist drive we were confronted by several signs about how unsuitable the road was for various different vehicles and it transpired that Stuart’s van was not its greatest fan.  It also transpired that this was -the- place to ride your motorbike and we saw several of them, many of which spent some time behind the rather slow van probably cursing into their helmets.  The peak of Mount Glorious was just that and driving up that high not only caused havoc with my ears but was truly amazing.  It was luscious and green and the air was so fresh.

After the glorious Mount Glorious we drove to Samford where we bought burgers prior to deciding we would carry on.  In Dayboro we found a great looking hotel, bought a couple of drinks and were then informed that they didn’t have accommodation.  I don’t mean they were full either, I mean they were a hotel without one of the ingredients you may consider befitting of such a title, i.e. beds.  It turns out that in Australia pubs like to call themselves hotels in order to fox stupid English tourists.  Well maybe that’s not the reason and there is some clever difference between a pub and a hotel here but it escapes me.  So, we carried on to Strathpine and then to Petrie and Kallangur.  In Kallangur we pulled up outside a motel and I called them to inquire whether they had any vacancies and guess what, they didn’t.  I then called a couple of others which also had no vacancies.  Using our mighty number of leaflets (i.e. one) Stuart suggested I call another place.  I phoned them and was informed that it was a children’s camp site.  I started laughing over the phone and then, realising I may sound like some kind of weird prank caller, promptly apologised.  Fortunately the guy on the other end of the phone also saw the funny side.  I then called another motel, which did have beds and wasn’t exclusively for children on Scout outings and the like.  I was reliably informed that a standard room was seventy dollars and a deluxe room was eighty one dollars.  When I asked what the difference between the two was the guy said, "eleven dollars".  Now, this completely threw me.  I’m not sure if it’s just me but there appears to be some kind of logical gap between English and Australian thinking sometimes.  While I’m on this subject an example from a New Zealand guy in a pub may help.  Basically, if you aren’t familiar with it the New Zealand accent has a slightly different twang to that of Australia.  Anyway so this Kiwi guy is in Australia and he wants to buy a new bed, so he goes to a bed shop.  When he gets there he says that he’s interested in buying a bed.  Apparently he received some very strange looks and comments prior to realising that the Australians thought he was trying to buy a beard.  Now, this is what I am talking about about a logical gap…I mean, firstly how many people actually buy fake beards and secondly, would you ask for one in a bed shop?

Right, back to the task in hand.  So there were beards at the one place but I wasn’t overly keen having just been completely flummoxed on the phone by the eleven dollar comment.  Stuart then suggested another place and I called them and was informed they didn’t have accommodation.  This was actually an English error, or rather a Stuart error, as there was only a drink icon next to the name on the leaflet and not a bed, or maybe it was a cunning plan on his part to get to the pub or something.  So we decided to head towards Brisbane in the hope of finding somewhere.  Fortunately we did, although Stuart did try to kill me on several occasions on the way by disobeying road signs, ignoring other vehicles and deciding that the middle lane of the motorway had been exclusively reserved for him!

The following day we checked out of the motel and Stuart drove me to the airport in Brisbane for my flight to Sydney.  I was actually bricking it about my flight as I managed to work myself up about flying after my previous slightly dodgy flight from Sydney to Byron bay.  I was searched for explosives at the airport which I am getting far to used to, flew with Virgin Blue and the plane was actually really nice.  I was also distracted by a guy to my left who clearly had a real flying phobia rather than a stupid contracted silliness as I did.

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4 Responses to “Saturday 6th to Wednesday 10th September – Brisbane area road trip”

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