G'day from sunny Brisbane one and all!
As most of you will be aware I am currently residing in sunny Queensland on a temporary basis until I have enough moolah to move on. If you read the last blog you will know I accepted a job in a call centre at the start of November, and it may amaze you to discover I am in fact still working there (as I have neither lost the will to live, nor been sacked). Far from the cruel hours of fundraising and well away from the frightening prospect of door to door, I sit at a desk for a mere six hours a day and chat tax talk for money. It is pretty peachy considering telemarketing is fairly soulless, and since we get free pizza and beer every Friday, I am a happy bunny. Besides no other job offers me the delights and disasters that ringing Aussies for a living entails. When I am not being hung up on or sworn at, I have been enchanted and amused by random people all over the country who have taken the time to actually talk to me. And lets not forget the very solemn conversation I had about Doomsday in 2012 with an old Italian gentleman this morning. Who would have thought telemarketing could lead to such an interesting observation of the human condition.
But I digress. I have not come to chat away about the frolicks and frivolities of call centre life. I have come to talk about Australia and all its coasts and creatures. I have been lucky enough to spend my weekends exploring more of Queensland, and I managed to get back up to the Sunshine Coast a couple of weeks ago to visit some family friends. A little further south than Noosa lies Mooloolaba (best name in the world?) and Maroochydore, and a little inland is the town of Buderim (pronounced 'bud-rim' as opposed to bewwwderrrim - apparently this pronounciation makes you look like an arse). I spent a lovely couple of days eating gelato on the beach, being shown around the area and gorging on my first home cooked roast dinner since August with my delightful hosts, Sandy and Greg. And like all good Australians, Sandy and Greg have a well stocked wine rack, a beautiful house and a gorgeous dog to call their own. It was like a home from home, which is the cure to any jaded traveller's call centre blues. I was treated like a Queen and have been invited to return to sample the famous Eumundi Markets, which I will head up to in December. The Sunshine Coast really is one of the most beautiful areas I have seen here in Oz, with blue skies, perfect beaches and even the odd Starbucks. It was definitely the break from Brissie that I needed.
The following weekend I hit the Gold Coast with Louise (my roomie) and Chloe, a friend of hers. We drove down in the morning and were at Surfers Paradise by noon. Surfers is a funny little place in the heart of the Gold Coast - which is far removed from the quiet wealth of the Sunshine Coast. With its sky scrapers that run all the way up to the beach, the Gold Coast wears its bright and tacky heart on its Prada sleeve, and is the home to bad nightclubs, huge strip clubs and the Surfers Meter Maids. From what I understand, the meter maids were originally employed to top up parking meters in the city, though their job now involves standing on the street in teeny weeny gold hotpants and having their photographs taken with tourists. I gather they used to be paid, but now all their money is made from tourists paying to take said photos. Either way, they are a staple of Surfers and an unmistakable emblem for the lifestyle of the place - tacky, shiny and probably 99% fake. Surfers is populated largely by women who could hide behind a lampost and the men who buy them breasts. The town is over populated by men at all times - not just the swarms on stag nights, but the draw of Surfers as a business hub means the women have the pick of about 5 men each at all times. We had a great day. :) (photo below not by me unsurprisingly!)
After arriving at midday and paying an extortionate $16 to park for a few hours, we headed to the famously long beach straight away for some vital sun exposure (turns out working all afternoon in an office starts to drain the tan pretty severely). As Chloe and Lou went off to play in the sea, I guarded our stuff and sunbathed, ensuring to cover myself liberally in suncream every hour. When they got bored of the sea, the girls went to buy a ball and promised to return with a surprise (which was unfortunately not Hugh Jackman covered in whipped cream as I had hoped). Instead they returned with an ice cream (don't you just love them!) and a giant, bright yellow inflatable kangaroo, who was promptly plonked beside me and named Sheila. After taking approximately five millions pictures of ourselves with Sheila (it had to be done!) we headed off to play beach rugby by the water and had a merry old time of it having ye olde style fun. By the time Lou and I went off to explore the town, I had noticed my chest was a little pink, but thought nothing of it and went off to see the sights of Surfers. By the time 4pm rolled around I was keenly aware that I had 'slightly caught the sun' as the pink tinge of my chest started radiating enough heat to rival the sun. As I lay on my bed that night covered in cocoa butter and aloe vera, it was quite clear that I had apparently missed out spots just above and just below my bikini, which left me with an angry red burn all around some particularly white areas. And as all good burns do, they blistered beautifully and I have learned a harsh lesson about the Queensland sunshine. No wonder 75% of Queenslanders eventually get skin cancer.
As the burns subsided over the week, Lou and I ummed and ahhed about our next adventure to be had, and I suggested a visit to Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, which is located in the darling suburb of Fig Tree Pocket just 12km from Brissie. Lone Pine is world famous and is regularly voted one of the top zoos in the world. If you head to their website you can view the whole host of famous faces that have cuddled koalas there, including Carey Mulligan, Taylor Swift, The Queen Mother, Mariah Carey etc etc. I had wanted to go there ever since I received a postcard with a photo of my sister cuddling a koala there when she was in Oz six years ago, and was very excited at the prospect of having a cuddle with one of Australia's most iconic residents (alas, still not Hugh Jackman).
To cut a long story short, Lou and I had an amazing day at Lone Pine. We fed and stroked kangaroos and wallabies, saw dingo puppies, fed lorikeets (very bright parrot things), were chased by an emu and of course I finally managed to cuddle a koala. Lou went for the baby crocodile cuddle (you couldn't even pay me to do that!) and also, randomly, sheared a sheep! I was given a little girl koala called Shassi, who was very sweet. Koalas are lucky enough to spend 20 hours a day sleeping, and the rest of the time getting stoned on eucalpytus, so Shassi was excellently mellow and chilled (which is a great comfort when they have one clawed hand resting on your right breast). It was a really wonderful day.
I had a bittersweet weekend last week as I said goodbye to my dear friend Dominique, who I had been with nearly two months now! She has gone to NZ now for a while and returns to Brisbane over New Years but it is unlikely I will still be here. I did get the chance to see a friend of mine from the UK though on the following day, which was really wonderful. I had a lovely time catching up with my friend Sophie, who left for Oz just a week before I did. It is amazingly comforting to have someone from home in the same country and we had a lovely day together!
Right, there is not much else to report just now (until you want further mundane anecdotes about the call centre) so I will love you and leave you until next time! Not sure what the plans are for the next few weekends, but I will no doubt update you the moment anything remotely exciting happens. :) Love you all oodles. xxxx
PS - all photos by me except the Meter Maids!