Sunday, 7 June 2009

Brakes? What brakes?

Here's another of my "Don't think, just do it" moments - sand-tobogganing in 'the desert' on Moreton Island off Brisbane. Not very sophisticated, they give you a piece of flexible chipboard, wax one side of it, tell you to lie down and face downhill, and give you a push. No chance of backing out, there was a 73 year old lining up behind me. It's easy to get a mouthful of sand if you don't hold up the front of the board, and when you go over a bump it feels like you've been punched in the stomach. But could be worse, one stag party (or bucks party as they're called in Aussie) lined up on the hill and used their boards on the naked rear end of the groom as he came down; apparently he was unable to sit for the entire wedding! It's an ideal island for swimming too, in lakes and the sea, at least from the Scottish perspective; the Aussies thought it was much too cold. Wussies.

Everyone I know in Oz seems to live in Brisbane; it's not just for cast members who leave Neighbours. I met Liam on his own travels in Glencoe Youth Hostel a few years back and introduced him to Glasgow rugby. He repaid the favour here by taking me to an Aussie Rules game, Brisbane v Carlton (from Melbourne, very much the home of the game). About 30,000 fans at the Gabba (better known in the UK as a test cricket ground) and I have to say a much better atmosphere than the Super 14 rugby games I attended in NZ. I think the sport is a bit of a shambles at times, but impressive at its best. Brisbane are going well in this year's championship, but despite a late rally Carlton were too good on Saturday. Thought I was going to get a bonus in the pub later when the British Lions game came on TV, but after 20 minutes the Aussies 20:20 cricket game in England began and rugby was shunted off the agenda. Though watching the Aussies lose was still entertaining. Not as funny as watching England lose to the Netherlands was for the Aussies though!

Otherwise it's been a very civilised week; art galleries, vineyards, botanic gardens and lots of shower dodging in cafes. Heading for the national parks south of the city with Sam and Rod tomorrow. It's a Monday holiday for them, as it's Queen's Birthday weekend - much to my surprise this rates as a holiday in both Australia and New Zealand. Which should discourage thoughts of a republic anytime soon!

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