'A sense of humour lends you poise, it gives you balance and it helps you to bend without breaking'

(HH Pujya Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda)

Menory Lane - The Wide Brown Land 10

The Pimple Dwindles(newly arrived?  You'll get more out of this if you go back to the beginning… honestly, you'll enjoy the ride!)

Brisbane.  The Big Country Town.  We arrived at about the time this capital city was trying to shake off the somewhat derogatory label.  In 1984, it was still struggling to do that.  It proved to be something of a dormitory city, with folks only going into the centre to work, then deserting as soon as the day ended.  The city centre then, even in the day, had a slightly soul-less, empty feel to it.

Am trying not to use the words 'ghost town'.  But as it was the weekend when we arrived, that was my immediate impression.

We were rather worn out as the bus trip from Proserpine had been the least enjoyable thus far- more like a cattle ride to be honest.  School holidays had begun (summer in OZ remember!), so we were surrounded by unruly and noisy youngsters and a few parents who seemed to have given up.

Arriving half an hour late (which was now seeming like the normal time, due to it's happening every leg of the journey), we stepped into a hot and steamy Brisbane and our contact nowhere to be found.  This was a lady I had never met, but was a good friend of a work colleague in Edinburgh and having spoken to her briefly on the telephone from Alice, she had been more than willing to offer us beds.  Finding a public booth, we tried her number - no one home.  The coach station had lockers, so we did a bit of jiggery pokery re-sorting from main cases into backpacks and lodged the big stuff there, leaving us free to search for lunch and discuss possibility of having to find YHA after all.

Second call, however, found our contact home.  She was going to a wedding and would be absent from the next day, but was perfectly happy to have us rock up and use her home!  A taxi ride found us up in the Brisbane hills  outside a weatherboard cottage of some vintage. We were welcomed warmly and we made ourselves at home - separate bedrooms finally!!

This is not it - but it WAS small
- and on stilts.  (Google Images)
Our host, in the late morning, then dropped us in the city where we did the rounds once more of museums and art gallery.  There was a free concert of baroque music in the main foyer of the gallery which filled the entire building.  Also a choir singing carols… our first summer Christmas was coming upon us. Back at the house, our host had already departed for the wedding so we settled down, drank XXXX beer and watched Starsky and Hutch…  (according to 'despatches' from Aitch - not sure I ought to have owned up to that!)  It was a bit weird being 'normal' again!

copyrighted to Ms HMR
Next morning we taxied back to the city quay for a trip up the Brisbane River to The Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary.  Till now we had not seen one of these elusive creatures.  At Lone Pine, we not only saw them, there was one riding a German Shepherd who belonged to a senior keeper and was brought up with the Koalas.  Plenty other creatures also.  Along the river there were huge colonies of fruit bats.  Controversial, apparently (aren't bats always so?); protected species but they were clearly doing a lot of damage.

image copyrighted to Ms HMR
We had one more night of ease then back down to board yet another Ansett road-'plane, this time for Sydney.  A fourteen hour trip and one that stick in STF's mind as being the most hair-raising of them all.  Not only was this the shonkiest of the vehicles we had ridden, there was not pillow, no blanket and definitely no charm.  The coach captain had the personality of a flea and perhaps some kind of death wish.  Certainly had no intention of sticking to advised speed limits and the Pacific Highway, even now, is not the greatest for night travel - in the 1980s it was no more than an average two lane road.  He drove like a madman and when he did come up behind a car, the brakes went on so savagely everything, including the bolted down seats, slid forward half a mile.

Okay that's STF exaggerating.  But it was truly horrid.  No way was I going to sleep - I never did much on the buses anyway, but this one?  I needed to be sure that I could jump when the 'plane showed signs of nose-diving.  Didn't care if I had a parachute or not.  Apparently Ansett Airlines didn't go as fast as their road fleet...

Arrival in Sydney in one piece was one of the tour's highlights.

Last stretch now folks!  Final episode of the Great OZ Tour with STF and Aitch tomorrow!!

(What's that?  Cheering?  Tsk.)


  1. I can't believe no one told you not to go by bus or coach, the worse drivers in the world drove those coaches in the 80's, if you want to see the countryside now the train is the best bet I have been told I would like to do it one day but it's pretty pricey, the yanks own it now so it's run as a business in the 80's the dept of railways would have been the owners and they do everything as cheaply as possible, never eat the hot food in a government owed train.
    Brisbane is not much different it still feels empty no life after everyone goes home from work, not my favourite place.

  2. 1984, year I got married and was still in SL, that's why didn't meet you both then. Pacific hwy, yes still bad, better than the 80's now though. Can't wait for the Sydney ep.

  3. I remember Proserpine. And we were traveling with a friend who lived in Brisbane. I quite liked it, probably because I like quiet.
    I remember the fruit bats, too. Scary to walk out the door and see them hanging from the trees.
    I guess we were lucky to be traveling with someone and not riding buses in Oz, but it's sure fun to read about you and Aitch.
    Love the photo of the koala on the dog. Somewhere there's a 1982 photo of a koala on me.
    I'm looking forward to the part of the story where you decide to settle in Oz.

  4. Hari Om
    Thank you ladies - yes Merle, there were a few comments, but you know how it is when you're young, footloose and fancy free?!!


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