Australia Wrap

beep-beep. . . . . . beep-beep. . . . . . beep-beep. . . . . . beep-beep. . . . . (SLAM!!!)

It’s Tuesday morning and the alarm clock just went off.  Monday has already been circumnavigated with a “sick day”, but there is nothing more you can do to dodge the stinging pain of responsibility.  The snooze button affords you another ten minutes of attempting to prolong your avoidance of reality.  But you’re only able to toss and turn during your short and restless slumber.  Counting down the minutes, the seconds, and checking the clock excessively to confirm your pessimistic belief that time is against you.  The only small glimmer of hope you have left, resides in that final minute of the snooze.  The chance to reconnect with the dream world again, if only just for a moment, before you are rudely thrust into the painful announce of that fucking beeping and the overwhelming realization that the morning grind is awaiting you.

Returning to Brisbane from New Zealand was our alarm clock.  We were forced to face the realization that our full nights sleep is now reduced to just minutes.  Our journey is no longer spoke of in the time frame of months but rather weeks.  Our plane tickets home have been purchased and our bank account is screaming “You better get your ass a job!”.  It seems our dream of traveling the world is nearing an end.  In just one day it will officially be a year on the road.  It’s difficult to keep from tossing and turning, while counting down the precious hours we have left before we leave this amazing dream world, and eventually go back to work.

But we’re not going to play that restless snooze button game.  We’re not going to let the knowledge that our trip is coming to an end hang over our head and spoil our remaining days.  We are going to take the time to sit up, do a little finger math, reset the alarm for another hour of sleep, and use a pathetic generalized lie for our tardiness.

Like traffic was bad or my bus was late.

In our case, that means tacking on a return visit to Ireland for St. Patties day and a road trip up the west cost.  Our excuse is easy, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity!

Um, you only get one chance to do something for the second time?

We call this post our Australia wrap strictly due to the formalities of adhering to the structural integrity of our blog.  It really should be called ‘Brisbane Wrap’ or better yet, ‘Waring House Wrap’, which is where it felt like we spent most of our time.  The addition to our travel plans and the fact that we have been on the road for the last year, left us with a long laundry list of things to do.

We returned to Brisbane with more than just a plan to spend every last penny we have (and don’t have).  We also managed to bring the weather that had been chasing us around New Zealand with us.  Our first four days back in Brisbane were spent inside.  As the torrential down pour wrecked havoc on the entire east coast of Australia.  Right through my very first Australia Day.  This was meant to be a day of drinking, sausage sizzles, and crazy over the top patriotism.  But it was reduced to a day of sitting inside and discussing how shitty it was that it was raining on Australia Day.

It had been all sunshine and blue skies in Australia while we were away and the same for New Zealand once we left.  We couldn’t even catch a break in Byron Bay when we made our way down south for a couple of days.  But we didn’t let the weather discourage us or keep us from doing what we do best.  Adding inches to our waistline through the perpetual consumption of large quantities of alcohol?

Bret: Hey Sally!  SALLY!

Sally: What!?

Bret: Guess what!?

Sally: What. . . ?

Bret: Even with all that drinking and eating we’ve been doing, I only put on 6 pounds!

Sally: You know that scale is in kilos, right?

Bret: Ohhh. . . . . . . . . . . . . . shit.

Food: 

When you have the luxury of lodging with locals (Sally’s parents), you get to the inside track to all of the good spots to eat.  So we happily followed their lead to several good pubs and restaurants   But top of our list had to be the German Club.  The food is portioned large enough to make Fat Bastard pass on seconds and the beers are nothing short of fucking awesome!

Top Rated: 

The top activity for Australia would have to be visiting what I would call some of the best beaches in the world.  This is based on of surf, cleanliness, amount of actual beach, water clarity, water temperature, and general vibe (i.e. not getting harassed every five minutes to buy something or worrying about your shit getting stolen).

A pretty distant second place, or actually there really isn’t a second place, more like a tie for fourth place, would be the time we got to spend with the family.

Ah-ha!  Just kidding.  Of course catching up with Sally’s family is top of the list!  It is always great to see them and considering it’s only once every few years, this trip was really nice, because we got to hang around almost to the point of wearing out our welcome.

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Russell Island – Mum’s 60th Birthday Celebration

There is usually little coaxing necessary to convince the two of us to indulge in a few evening drinks, mid-afternoon beverages, or even cracking open a couple (borderline late morning) before lunch.  When you’re on a year-long trip there is never really a bad time to kick back, relax, and reward yourself for all that hard work you’re not doing.  But occasionally we do actually have a justified reason to celebrate something of significance.

In this case, just under two weeks into our time in Australia we had the wonderful opportunity to celebrate my mum’s 60th birthday.  With the family being all together for the first time in four years, it was the perfect opportunity to do something special for mum. 
Our good family friends, Bruce and Lyn, graciously suggested we head to their weekend/holiday house on Russell Island.  The weekend before the celebration a group headed out to the island to stock the bar.  I don’t mean a well stocked shelf or one of those ridiculous hollow globes you buy out of Sky Mall magazine.  This was 12 feet of refrigerated beer space, granite top, liquor holding, ass kicking bar! The stage was set for the perfect birthday celebration.

Early Friday afternoon we boarded their boat and headed for the island.  Forty-five minutes later  we found ourselves picking bugs out of our teeth because our jaws had dropped to the floor.  It wasn’t so much the beautiful boat that had brought us safely to their personal jetty.  Or the gorgeous five bedroom house that comfortably slept the twelve of us.  It was the addition to the house with the infamous bar, pool table, ping-pong table, lounge, and deck that put us in shock and awe.

Bruce and Lyn bought the house six years ago.  They designed and built an entire level below the original house to include four bedrooms, two bathrooms, a fully loaded bar, lounge area, games area and a large deck with a hot tub.  All overlooking Moreton Bay.

A quick set-up of sleeping quarters and it was time to relax on the deck with a few drinks.  We started out strong and as the night went on, everyone was tipping back the drinks, dancing, singing (at times with improvised microphones), enjoying the hot tub, and competing in both intense and not so intense games of pool and ping-pong.  The slow start on Saturday morning was evidence of a successful celebration of my lovely mother and her 60 years of life.

During our time at the island we did manage to do more than just drink ourselves stupid.  Though we did kill the weekends supply of beer on the first night!  We spent some time fishing, crabbing, taking the boat out to one of the many bays for a swim, and walking along the sand at low tide.   

Russell Island Photos

Brisbane

“Welcome to the land down under, where beer does flow and men chunder.”  Which by the way means vomit, I googled it.  The country’s unofficial national anthem may lead you to believe that the locals drink large quantities of cheap beer and can’t handle their alcohol.  I can assure you that neither is the case.  First of all, ‘cheap beer’ is an oxymoron in Australia.  It seems to be the only place in the world that Miller High Life’s advertisement claims come anywhere close to making any sense (Champagne of Beers my ass).  You might be wondering, “Just how expensive can the beer really be?”.  Let me put it to you this way, once we overcame the cold sweats and shaky hands that came from the sticker shock, we decided we needed to pick up a cheaper habit to supplement our beer drinking.  As of now we have it down to two finalists.  We are still trying to decide between no limit Texas hold ’em or high-grade, uncut, cocaine.  Second, with a drinking age of 18, their end of school celebrations (schoolies) make the US spring break gatherings look like square dance night at the senior center.  Thus they have a three-year jump at building their tolerance (compared to the States) and make good use of their head start.

Contrary to popular belief, the country was not founded by convicts.  Convicts were only shipped to the country from England if they possessed a trade.  Like a work-release program.  Which takes a large amount of the wind from my sails when exchanging insults with my in-laws.  England decided it would be a better alternative to pardon criminals with minor infractions and provide them with a new beginning rather than resorting to slavery to start the new colony (even less wind. . .).

Brisbane is also the last place Sally called home before I beat her over the head and dragged her back to my cave (Seattle).  She wanted me to ensure that I would mention her roots in Australia yet emphasize that she has-does-and will always consider herself a Kiwi, but always Australia over America.  Brisbane is a gorgeous river city that is incredibly well laid out and has public spaces that are nothing short of amazing.  There are endless paved trails that weave their way through and around the city, connecting countless parks with fields, dog parks, and playgrounds.  They actually have a man-made beach overlooking the river, inside the city!  How epic is that!?

Southbank Beach

We are fortunate to have Sally’s parents living in Brisbane and they have been gracious enough to provide us with accommodation, meals, and enough alcohol to help us maintain the lifestyle we have become accustomed to.  Clearly they have been keeping up with our blog!  For those of you that have not been able to tune in on a regular basis, no worries.  We understand that life is busy and reading a blog about traveling and drinking with excessive amounts of profanity, might not rank that high on your list of priorities.  So we decided to create a short three-minute fifty-four second video to help catch you up. (Summary).

The olds (as Sally calls them) wasted no time in taking us to a couple of their favorite watering holes.  This was our first introduction to the cost of living in Australia (the cost of beer) and it was an awakening one.  A single round at the Belgian Beer bar set them back a cool $65!  Normal circumstances (being on the road) would have Sally and I casually “going to the bathroom” and then slipping out the back door in an attempt to skip out on the bill (That’s just how we roll).  But the olds simply smiled, laughed, and shouted the bill.  They then proceeded to shell out another $85 at the next bar for another round of quality beer, sliders and chicken wings!

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We have three weeks in Australia (two now, one after New Zealand) and it is unfortunately going to be limited to the Queensland area in order to save as much cash as possible and spend some quality time with the family.  So no wild tales of dingoes eating our baby in the outback, spending $35 on a long island iced tea at the Opera Bar in Sydney, or getting bit by a great white while snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef.  We are just going to have to suffer through spending our days at arguably the best beaches in the country and helping the olds rid themselves of their Costco sized wine selection.

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Brisbane Photos