“Travel not to find yourself, but to remember who you’ve been all along”
A $350 ticket, a rickety plane journey and 3 hours later, I was back in Brisbane.
My friend Viktor called me just after I’d left the airport to find out when I’d get back to meet up with me, and words can’t express how excited I was to see a familiar face. He even agreed to spend some of the day trailing around clothes shops for me to buy new office outfits, (he must have missed me, or he was really bored!)
I started my job the following day, but I should explain how I managed to get the job, because it was definitely fate (or whatever people want to call it) I was having a conversation with my mam, before I left for longreach, not really sure what I was going to do, I couldn’t afford a plane ticket home, but I couldn’t afford my rent, and for the first time ever I really couldn’t find a job. It was getting so bad that my friends were paying my way … I can’t put into words how lucky I’ve been and how grateful I am for the friends I had at that point. Everyone was so generous, they knew how bad I was doing, and no they just paid for rent, food, everything. So from the bottom of my heart Cody, Viktor and Andy … thank you. But anyway, as I was talking to my mam, her friend who was with her at the time mentioned that she had an uncle in Brisbane, Mark, so she would get in touch with him. Unfortunately, it turned out he didn’t know of anything before I left, but now, he had a friend who needed someone to help him in the marketing of his startup company… crazy, right?
So off I go, to work behind the scenes in the development of a smartphone application, and in my last month I worked alongside one of the friends I met in Sydney who was in Brisbane at the time, Mhairi. Mark called me and offered to help me in any way I needed while I was in Brisbane, he even offered me a room in his family home. Again, the generosity, and this time from a stranger, was truly overwhelming. Once I’d found an apartment to live in, and paid the bond, I was struggling (again) so I actually took Mark up on his offer. He picked me up from my hostel and drove me back to his house in a suburb just outside of the city … we pulled up, and wow. Just wow. The house was huge, there were even jet skis in their garage! I’ve not been in many houses that could be on the cover of a magazine, but there I was, in awe. I was shown to my room which was lovely, as it would be … a big comfy double bed and really nicely decorated, and then I was introduced to the family … who were all so welcoming, even the kids. I’m pretty sure at their age I would have been confused/annoyed at a stranger coming to stay in my house, but they were lovely. We sat and had dinner on their balcony and chatted, and I was given free reign of the kitchen (and all of their food) for my lunches, and then was made dinner when I got in from work … such simple things, but things I have really learned to appreciate, and even more so when I was being treated so nicely by people I hadn’t heard of a month before that. I honestly considered asking them if I could pay rent to stay there! Obviously I didn’t, because that would have definitely been overstaying my welcome.
I got myself a pretty sweet apartment, top floor pool, Jacuzzi, gym and BBQ area (of course, it’s Australia) … this was after I got what I thought was a sweet apartment and turned out to be a bed on a balcony … long story. I told myself I’d never get into the position I was in the last time I was in Brisbane, but that I’d make the most of my time here, and promised myself that in the two month contract I would save nearly everything in order to travel the east coast before I had to do my regional work. Thankfully Brisbane has a pretty good transport system, it’s called a go card, once you’d travelled enough during the week you’d get the rest of the week for free … so during my weekends I had free transport all over Queensland, perfect opportunity for travel!
So, where did I go on my exciting weekend getaways? First, I went to Noosa on the Sunshine Coast, which I was really looking forward to … I’d heard that it was a beautiful little beach town, where there wasn’t much to do, but if you liked the beach life, you’d love Noosa. My idea of heaven is living next to a beach, in a small, historical town, with beautiful buildings and a great library … Not much to ask, right?! I don’t know whether these extreme differences in my ideal living places make me complex or confused.
Noosa, it was exactly what everyone talked about, I felt so at peace when I was there, the weather was gorgeous and the beaches were unbelievable. I took the opportunity to do the coastal walk from the main beach to sunshine beach, and all of the little alcoves in between … I’d never seen so many beautiful beaches in one place. Half a day, about 100 photos, and an uncomfortable walk through a nudist beach later (complete with awkward conversation with naked old man) and I was back at the hostel. A seriously chilled out, laid back, hostel. Weekend visit #1 … complete.
Next in line was Surfers Paradise on the Gold Coast, and anyone who’s been to both will know what a sharp contrast it is to Noosa. It’s like the magaluf of Australia, it’s very much targeted at tourists and it’s pretty tacky, but saying that, it seems like a fun place to go if you were in a big group of people for a crazy night out. Me being me, I spent most of my time on the beach … which is pretty cool to look at, because the city skyline runs directly along the beach, which I’ve never seen before. I didn’t do a great deal on these weekend trips away, because I was broke due to saving up for the East Coast, but I saw the places I wanted to see and that was the main point. On the last day of the trip, I went to meet Mhairi at the local theme park ‘Dreamworld’, a large theme park thats all to do with Dreamwork’s. I’m a theme park nut, and going to a theme park is one of my all time favourite days out (I promise I’m 25).We had so much fun, and went on every ride we could … including all of the spinny rides, much to my dismay. I felt like I was going to vomit after nearly every ride, but we still had a lot of fun being the biggest kids in the park. I actually found out a day or two later that Warner Bro’s Movie World is actually the one with all of the rollercoasters… typical. Weekend visit #2 … complete.
When me and the boys were on our road trip, and camping in Brisbane, we got talking to an older man who was from the area, and he told us that while we were in Brisbane we HAD to check out Stradbrooke Island because it was a beautiful, untouched island just a short ferry away. We didn’t manage to do it while we were all together but that recommendation stuck in my head, so that was my third weekend trip away, with my friends Cody and Liam. I’m so glad that I was determined to visit the island because it was amazing! We got off the ferry and found the nearest piece of beach, walked down to it, and it was totally empty. I don’t know how many of you have been to a beach that didn’t have loads of tourists, and screaming children on it, but it is such a lovely atmosphere. We just sat there for hours, sunbathing, chatting, and paddling in the beautifully clear water. Weekend visit #3 … Success!
And last but not least, Byron Bay & Nimbin. A group of us (me, my friend Mhairi, her boyfriend Ross, Cody and Liam) decided it would be fun to rent a car, drive to Nimbin for the weekend, stay there, and have a little day visit to Byron Bay. We were recommended to stay at a hostel called Grannies, because it was in the centre of Nimbin, full of really high, laid back people … and that was how you should experience Nimbin. It took us three times as long to get there than it should have, and it was pouring with rain so no one was in high spirits when we got to Grannies. What made it worse was that the manager thought we’d already checked in, and gave our room to another Rachael (a Rachael who said that she’d put the deposit down on the room, that I’d actually paid) … after being in the middle of an awkward argument between the two women, it was decided we were going to have to stay in another hostel, one that was in the middle of being refurbed and was a 10 minute drive away… great. The manager took us there, and then when we arrived she paid for our stay, the manager of this lodge made sure we got a nice room, and then even told us we could use their kitchen as our own, we could drink on the premises (and smoke pot, if we wanted to, because Nimbin) and use their pool table. So what we thought was going to turn into an awful weekend, actually worked out really well. First place to visit, Nimbin … the most surreal little village I have EVER, and probably will ever, visit. The strip includes about 50 shops, at a push, a small doctors, and a police station. Not that I can imagine the police have much control over the town, because absolutely everyone is high. Not all of the time, but if they’re not selling it, they’re smoking/eating it… weed, or magic mushrooms, (which me and cody were offered as we were at the toilets). So, as you can imagine, it is one of the most chilled out towns I’ve ever been to, hippy paradise, and you can’t help but partly want to be a hippy while you’re there. We were offered weed, constantly … once by an old woman having dinner with her family in a pizza restaurant, once by an old lady who was working in a shop, once by an old man sitting chilling with his friends, and another time from a group of old ladies sitting near a park. Now, I don’t know what your grandmas do, but mine definitely don’t spend their days selling weed to groups of tourists (or maybe they do, who knows?). But it was so surreal, you can’t even imagine. On our last day, we visited Byron Bay, a very well-known surfer beach town that everyone seems to love. We checked out the lighthouse to see the amazing views of the coastline, and chilled out next to the beach … unfortunately, on that occasion, Byron Bay didn’t really do it for me … I couldn’t tell why everyone was so in love. But hold that thought, because a future post will express my sincere love for Byron Bay! Weekend visit #4 … Done.