Cat-sitting and bike-napping

I traveled into Brisbane today to soak up some culture – museum, art gallery – but instead learned some other quirks of the natives.

Said one bogan to another as I walked past them – “I can’t , I’ve gotta go cat-sitting out West.”

Cat-sitting? I’m left wondering;

  • Will the moggies be allowed to stay up late,or will it be lights out at 9pm?
  • Whether the bed-time story will be a quick Three Blind Mice or will it be The Cat in the Hat again? Or maybe they like to be scared a little, something like The Hound of Baskervilles?
  • Will they need a bottle, or a nightcap ( catnip )?
  • Will an intercom be used?
  • Are they toilet-trained?

 

, and more. What are the rates for such a critical role?

I’ve often wondered how safe it is to lock a bike by securing only the frame or front wheel. I found out today when I ran across this in a large shopping centre carpark;

And in between those musings, I did manage to browse through the museum and art gallery. I have to admit, I hardly did them justice, but I did get some evidence.

The gallery and the museum are both ideally located on the “South Bank” of the river, five minutes’ walk from the centre of town. Also in the same stretch are a theatre, and more buildings dedicated to the performing and other Arts.

The gallery building itself was an impressive piece of art. Light, and spacious, predominantly white, and a very natural feel.

Perhaps the museum, a short stumble away, is even more impressive. But that’s down to its range of displays and good use of digital learning tools.

I’ll be back.

Events that the Newshawk himself could not understand

By Carl Wyant

(The following story is true. But the names, dates, places, people, and events have been changed to protect the innocent.)

The banquet hall flickered in strobe-lit confusion as Madam X checked my pass.

As I waited, nouveau wealth in every lush and lavish form jostled by … an impressionistic wash of diamonds, veils, tailcoats and sprayed-on stretch fabric. These were The Beautiful People. The shooting stars. Today’s pin-ups, tomorrow’s nobodies. My assignment? Observe, analyse…. and if possible, get totally knocked-out and loaded.

Cleopatra Baskerville looked stunning, as always. Her face, a neo­ gothic masterpiece from the hand of greasepaint genius, Henri LeCroix, was especially compelling. Moreover, it was so heavily applied that when we danced cheek-to-cheek an exact likeness of it was printed on me, leaving me the usual hardened thug on one side, and the belle of the superbunnies on the other. But I was unaware of this, and when we parted I was none the wiser.

I was downing whiskies by the piranha tank when a steaming bimbo in a leopard suit zeroed in on me.

“Cleo darling,” she gushed. “Love the man’s suit! Why didn’t I think of it?”

“Pardon me, mam” I said, “but my name’s Wyant. Carl Wyant.”

She ran a disdainful eye over me. “You mean the Carl Wyant? Nah. He wouldn’t dare show his face around here.”

“I beg your pardon?”

She studied me a moment more. “Oh! I get it! Where do you get these ideas? And the voice and everything! You’re too much, Cleo.”

She handed me a tall pink drink. “Here,” she said, “drink now, fly later,” and she was gone.

Perplexed, I drained the brew, wondering if something really unspeakably weird was going on.

I need drugs, I decided, and was moving towards the nefarious-looking activity across the hall when Max Bullhead loomed up suddenly on the port side.

“Carl you old dog. What in blazes are you doing here?”

“Well, at the moment I’m trying to get to that table over there where people seem to be snorting some kind of whiteish stuff,” I said.

“Ye gads boy! I hope you don’t throw a gasper on us. It’d be a nuisance if you had a heart attack or something.”

“Tell me,” I said, ignoring his tasteless dig at my age, “do I look anything like Mademoiselle Baskerville?”

He glared keenly down. “You’re mad,” he said, thumping me cheerfully on the back, “absolutely mad,” and he merged back into the crowd, chuckling.

Great. I’m old. I’m mad. I look like Cleopatra. And I just drank a glass of pink hallucinogens. If this doesn’t mean something, nothing does.

Two vague forms came weaving out of the f lashing lights, smiling and saying ‘Carl’ and ‘Cleopatra’ with great gusto.

I lit a camel and focussed an apprehensive gaze upon the forthcoming beautiful people. It was getting too complex. At a loss for words I took the easy way out and let Cleoptara talk for me.

“Hey kids,” she said, “it’s like, euphoric. But Carl and I must go now. Lunch tomorrow at Chan’s? Fabulous! Think happy thoughts. Bye now!”

I was driven home in a limousine and was still awake two days later when the Sunday paper knocked a panel out of the front door. Wrestling it open a bold intro caught my eye.

“Fashion freaks are freaking out after slinky mega-bucks model, Cleopatra Baskerville, was seen leaving a six-figure bash in the company of low-rent gossip weasel, Carl Wyant.

“‘They seemed very, very close’, one witness claimed.”

I fell into the chair, stricken. Holy suffering mackerel. I had been on the scene of news and missed it; but worse, I’d gone home with M’selle B and can’t remember!

Woe. But maybe there’s mileage in it yet! Yes….yes, I must reach Cleo at once .

Golden for the day

In my hosts’ ongoing quest to beguile me with the delights of Brisbane and surrounds, I was escorted to the Gold Coast on the weekend.

First, it was the Carrara markets

Among dozens of stalls, I managed to find the little old lady selling very cheap sunnies. I had to jump through some hoops – cash only – but well worth it to keep up appearances.

“Since you’ve been such a gentleman, I’ll throw in a second pair,” she says, probably wiping out her earnings for the day. I couldn’t find a polite way to decline.

We ate and meandered, and then took ourselves off to the beach.

There I managed to cook myself a nice reddish brown – rare, not well-done, no sauce thanks – in between flailing about and wallowing.

The high-rises you see are mostly apartment blocks. I have my doubts, but Roger claims these are affordable without a second mortgage.

Adelaide-bound

I gone dunnit – I’m bound for Adelaide on December 14.

Putting aside the usual dithering and doubts, I’ve booked the plane trip.

The usual doubts cast a longer shadow because life here in Brisbane has been ( almost too ) easy, thanks to the continuing generosity of a friend from school-days.

Of course, it may be a huge mistake. But the plan was always to migrate south for the summer, and Brisbane is becoming too .. tropical, especially overnight. Plus, there is no beach here within sniffing distance.

And longer-term, I want to avoid becoming too flat-footed.

Accommodation

After a snafu with airbnb, I resorted to Facebook to find digs.

It’s possible somebody up there likes me. Someone from the group messaged me, and I have a ‘booking’ for a shared flat near Moana Sands, about 40 km south of Adelaide.

It’s “5-10 mins walk to beach, shops, railway station and library”, according to the owner.

Marvelous!

Brisbane

Contrary to rumours, I do sometimes escape my cloister.

This time my ( generous ) hosts Roger and Karen took me seeing the sights of Brisbane, from the South Bank.

There are acres of public space running alongside the river.

In case I need to say it again, the larger Australian cities I’ve seen on this trip have spent much money and time on creating beautiful outdoor public spaces.

Then to Mt. Gravatt Lookout, and home.

Day 6 – Sunshine Coast to Brisbane

With only a little over an hour’s drive left, I spent some more time smelling the roses.

By a miracle named Google, I then found my way to Maroochydore Beach, where I was one of several hundred people on the beach. At 7.30 a.m. It would have been rude not to have gone for a swim. I waddled in, but played it very safe on the unfamiliar beach.

After breakfast, I drove all of two minutes up the road for a perfect coffee, and settled down to peacefully scratching away on this machine.

Again with Google’s help, I found my way to Sunnybank Hills, a suburb south of Brisbane. There I emptied the van, funneled some food, and set off to return said van.

Again paying manic attention to Google, I bulls-eyed my target, arriving at the arranged Jucy van drop-off with 15 minutes to spare.

I woke the attendant , and handed over the keys. He asked, so I whined a little about uncooperative doors and curtains and such.

And then it was over. I’d traveled more than 2000 km in 6 days. I was ragged, a little unwashed, slightly dazed, but in one piece.

And it was time to return, to life in the ‘burbs, to a comfortable bed, to being indoors, to working, and to talking to people.

Day 5 – Bundaberg to the Sunshine Coast

Good morning Bundaberg
Good morning Bundaberg – 5.30 a.m.

Bundaberg to Sunshine CoastNow, on the second-last day of the Migration, I have this thing down pat.

Even if it involves another morning jump-start. This time I approached a likely-looking customer also sporting the Queensland uniform – shorts and singlet – and walking his dog. Turns out he’s 60, and has retired to his boat. He’s living on the river right now, and is heading south soon as spring comes on.

And so, no, he doesn’t have a set of jumper leads.

The riverside carpark, desolate earlier, is now beginning to buzz, if not swarm. A chap in a hurry for his coffee is happy to stop and futz around, and help me on way. Destination the Sunshine Coast.

Hervey Bay

But first, a pit-stop in Hervey Bay for a quick dip. It’s windy , and almost cold , but not quite. And just say ‘Harvey Bay’, otherwise they’ll know you’re a Kiwi.

Tin Can Bay

A longer detour than expected then found me in Tin Can Bay, probably lovely with the tide in, as you see below.

Then it was back on track to make up some time. First, back to the main trunk,and then through some windy , lonely, and hot forest roads, trusting that Google knew what it was doing.

It did, and n hour-plus of “focussed” driving got me to Noosa Heads, with vague ideas of finding a beach and parking up.

First, in a feeble attempt to get some relief from the heat, a quick stroll in Noosa, near town;

But on being reminded that today was another of the Queen’s birthdays, and the beaches were full, I headed to the Sunshine Coast.

There, more driving around in circles followed, until I found somewhere to park up for the night. Nearby a river, and public toilets, and an arterial route. Far enough away to dull the noise.

And it was goodnight from me.

Day 4 – Marlborough to Bundaberg

Marlborough to Bundaberg
The day started off with a couple of small blunders, but anxious moments soon turned into plain sailing.

First, the van battery was flat in the morning. I was , however, surrounded by campervans. So the first person who greeted me got his opportunity to do his good deed for the day – jump-start the van.

Ron was an affable northern Englishman who’d been in Australia 50 years – “the last of the 10-pound Poms“, he told me. He was an engineer, retired now, wandering Australia with his wife.

When I got to the main road, I shunned the first petrol station with gas at $1.66 / litre. I soon cursed that decision on noticing the fuel gauge , and the next big town, Rockhampton, was a long way south.

The road ahead, and the map, showed almost nothing in between. I slowed down to pensioner’s pace, and started coasting the downhills. On re-checking, I was relieved to find I had plenty of water as I pondered hitch-hiking to Rockampton.

Then out of nowhere, the oasis of Yaamba appeared. Nothing but a house or two, a pub, and a gas station, run by the fella at left. Perfect.

Rockhampton

I stopped for the morning coffee at Rockhampton. The coffee was perfect,and again the river-side is well appointed for public enjoyment.

Calliope

Back into a dry and barren landscape, I hit Calliope, which seemed to be some sort of holiday pop-up town to separate tourists from their dollars.

Gladstone

A quick detour to Gladstone – it didn’t help that the tide was out – to check out the beach was a disappointment.

Past there the landscape opened up – large flat plains, full of greenery, mostly corn. For example, at South Kolan, below.

Bundaberg

And finally to Bundaberg, where I arrived late afternoon. A pretty little town, with an appealing main street, and some classic old architecture. Home of Bundaberg rum.

At this stage of life, I had still not reliably hot-spotted my phone as an internet connection for my laptop. So I went on a wild wifi chase before giving up and tapping out the required work in a quiet industrial part of town.

Too quiet for the night, I decided. I shifted to a public area where more cars were around, and parked up near the river for the night.

10 p.m.

After 10 pm, and it seemed I’d picked the local teens’ party spot as my crash-pad. Twenty feet away, a carfull arrived with the beers and the reggae.

“It could be worse,” I’m telling myself as I pull down the shades.

I’m spotted doing this, and seconds later a young girl, maybe 17, is tapping at my window.

“What’s the van about?”

Not sure how to answer this, I blunder something about it being a rental,and that I’m driving from Cairns to Brisbane. I’m sleeping innit, I tell her, trying to smile.

Pleased with herself for gleaning all this, she saunters off.

Seconds later, the music fades, the car starts up, and they drive off.

Aaah.

Day 3 – Airlie Beach to Marlborough

Days 3 started very well, and got more bedgraggled as I did.

I stuttered back from my hillside perch to the waterfront to find that the Carnies had come to town. Yes, a Saturday morning market.

Among those selling their wares was Carl, an English chap who’d been here for years. His wife is a journalist, producing an independent local rag in competition with the MordorMurdoch empire.

Airlie Beach is a definite candidate for a return visit – great beach, a smalltown feel, a thriving market, and a parkrun.

Fuelled with a coffee and a full tank, I set off early for Rockhampton.

A couple of detours to Sarina Beach, and Armstrong Beach were disappointments.

Afternoon scramble

With an online afternoon appointment looming, I found myself in a barren wilderness called Clairview. No civilization to be seen here. Except dire signs warning against overnight parking, and a huge dusty campground like something out of Mad Max. No room at the inn there either.

The next stop was a travellers’ rest near St. Laurence, where I parked up and tried in vain to sort an internet connection good enough for Zoom.

After that failed, I consoled myself with a bucketful of chocolate, and decided to push on for Rockhampton.

But late afternoon was upon me, and I went down a sideroad to the township of Marlborough, population 149, altitude 90 metres, apparently.

I meandered around the township, and eventually hit upon a small and likely-looking gathering of campervans in a dusty compound. At $5 for the night, including toilets , showers, and a pub , it was an easy sell.

After again failing to get an internet connection for my laptop, and being laughed at in the pub when I asked about Wifi, I ate a well-rounded evening meal of sardines, tomatoes, and peanut butter, and turned in for the night.