|What can I say? I love the place :) Which is as good a reason to go there as any. This time there were no conferences or PhD-theses in the way, just plain and simple vacation. A friend of mine came along and we stayed with a relative of his most of the time.
Instead of the more usual route via Heathrow, we went via Frankfurt. Which meant that instead of having our bags misplaced, we almost missed the connecting flight. The operative word being almost, because we didn't. But only just. While queueing, I distinctly heard the checkin supervisor say "These two and then we're closed". With a bunch of people still behind us... Still, almost missing the flight turned out to have its advantages: when we were handed our boarding passes they had a weird colour. As in "Business Class" colour :-)) So we travelled the next 14 hours in supreme comfort. Even though the flight attendant asked us somewhat incredulously "What's that?" while pointing at the water bottles we had brought along. I guess he wasn't used to seeing those in Business Class. The water theme continued up arrival: it was raining. Something the birds didn't care much about. Or, late at night, the bats.
Our host didn't quite have the same number of remote controls on his coffee table as I do, but enough to make me feel at home. The view from the balcony wasn't bad either. Sitting there was the most substantial activity for the first few days.
Our first significant trip was to Lake Moogerah. We went with a good friend in his trusty though somewhat older car. We picked up some food and cold drinks on the way and had a late lunch in a comfy purpose-built concrete shed with nice views over the lake. Across the dam is a national park with the usual trail to climb. Which was duly climbed by all three of us. When we returned the sun was setting, and there was just enough light left to see how high the water had been in recent years.
After all the extertions (ahem) of the trip to Moogerah, we spent lots of time in various swimming pools. And sitting in an airconditioned shopping mall, sipping ice cold coke and looking at anybody who cared to walk into view. We also spent some time planning a somewhat more challenging trip. Some consultation with local experts yielded a slighty crazy plan: we were going to go to Carnarvon Gorge. Not exactly close to Brisbane. Or to anything else, for that matter. We figured we'd be able to drive up there in two days, look around for a day, and drive back in two more days. Without much delay we rented a car. At least, the rental agency called it a car. I called it something else. According to the manual it was a Toyota Camry. With a V6. Automatic. The manual didn't say the car suffered from terminal understeer, squealed more than my SquealMobile and didn't provide any feedback through the steering wheel. Or the brakes. Still, when going straight ahead it had a reasonably compliant ride.
In the afternoon of day two we were getting near to our destination. We decided not to go to the Gorge because that's a long way from the closest motel, but to look around the area instead, check into a motel, and get to the Gorge on the next day. Our first stop was near some odd-looking mountains.
The second stop was one of the high points of the entire vacation: a visit to an open air museum, sited near a historical place. Historical, because that's where the largest massacre of whites by aboriginals took place. We were welcomed by a friendly dog and ditto owner: the keeper of the museum. The museum was run part-time by a very nice woman, who made us tea (with a cookie), told about the history of the place, lent us a booklet that described everything on the site, and gave us some tips on how to spend the rest of the day. Among the things on display were a school (outback style), a homestead, outbuildings, a barn, and a telephone switchboard (which was used well into the 1980's).
On the way to our motel we stopped off at a recreation area near yet another dam. There wasn't much going on, except for some birds annoying the trees.