MY TRIP TO BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA
I arrived one fine evening in Brisbane on a train from Australia’s sparkling Gold Coast. That morning I’d packed up my tent in a campground startlingly hemmed in by soaring skyscrapers, then cycled along a peaceful inland waterway one hour to the train station, where I hopped aboard. I don’t recall why I didn’t simply cycle to Brisbane, but there must have been a very good reason, considering I’d just cycled up the coast from Byron Bay. Why ‘sell out’ for a train ride at that point?
It may forever remain a mystery. However, I did enjoy jugging through the countryside, lazily lounging in my cushy train seat. Once we arrived in the city, I found a small quiet budget hotel, then set out to uncover what was happening in Brisbane. I discovered that Brisbane had much more on offer than I’d expected.
That very night, a free outdoor movie was being presented to the public. I excitedly popped a bag of popcorn at my hotel and pedalled over to the park. The movie venue was set within an amazing riverside park/cultural center that stretches along the riverside for several kms, on the opposite shore from Brisbane’s downtown. The park was full of sculptures, gardens, museums, Brisbane’s performance art center, walkways, a small rainforest, and…get this: a beach. It wasn’t a naturally-formed riverside beach but a manmade beach and lake, which looked convincingly natural. I was amazed: an inner city public beach. All for free! I ended up spending much of my Brisbane time in that splendid cultural park. But back to the movie:
A thronging crowd showed up for the film, which was an intense, intriguing story about relationships. Afterward, we were further treated to an unusual multi-media presentation. A dj put music to an old French classic film. It promised to be cool, but I was quickly bored and left for some clubbing. Of course, those days I was always looking for trance clubs and parties. I quickly discovered that Brisbane was not much of a ‘trance town’. Instead, they were big on hip-hop, rap, RnB, drum and base, and dubb. Not my favorite kind of music.
So I just wandered aimlessly around the main club area, hoping for the best. To my surprise, I came upon an amazing rap competition. Those guys were incredibly talented! I had to admit that even I liked their rapping, at least live. I also scouted out several clubs. I discovered some very cool interiors but not much of my kinda music or people. Brisbane was ‘infected’ with a funky happy disco-y house music. Hmmm… That was ok for a change of pace perhaps, but every club? Every night?
I made an early night of it and returned to my ‘hotel’. Happily, it was a quiet place. But I had a huge shock when I returned to my dorm room. Yes, dorm room. I hadn’t slept in a dorm for years. At least I’d been assigned a room with only 3 other girls but, the shock. I opened the door and was blasted with TV! TV?!! In my room?!!! My god, I hadn’t had a TV since high school. Even worse, it turned out that my roomies were TV junkies. If they were awake, the TV was on. Holy unbelievable.
I managed to deal with that by staying away from the room as much as possible, going out late dancing, and returning after they were asleep. Still, I did have to spend a couple early evenings trying to relax in my bed with a TV blaring. I put on my headphones full blast and turned my back to it. Being stuck in a room with a TV blasting was an extremely bizarre experience for me.
Meanwhile, I discovered that Brisbane was full of visual and performance art exhibits, events, and special programs. My first full day I spent enjoying the large Queensland Art Gallery (= art museum) and Queensland Museum (mostly natural history) plus the riverside parkland. I went suntanning on the beach (in the city!) and enjoyed cappucino at a riverside cafe. The library offered free one-hour per day internet access, so I spent every evening there.
Following my internet sessions, I relaxed (as much as possible with TV blasting) before going out clubbing. My 2nd night out, I went to a new club, also billed as the usual hip-hop/RnB/rap, and was treated to some amazing hardcore fast music that I’ve never heard before. What a dance work-out that was! I stopped in a couple other funky house clubs as well, but found nothing of interest.
One day I did the typical ‘tourist tour’ of Brisbane, visiting all the historic buildings, several small galleries, a guided tour of the Parliament Building and the botanical gardens. That night I found a cool, crazy alternative party full of oddballs, silly camp performances, and eclectic music.
Another day started with yet another free public movie, this time at a huge beautiful casino, housed in the old treasury building. They offered free coffee, which I thought a very odd drink to serve with a movie, and played an old classic Errol Flynn film. Good stuff!
On Saturday I was treated to 14 hours of entertainment. I started with the weekend market, which was full of clothes, accessories, plants, interiors, all enlivened by a band playing. Next came the main event, held at the Art Gallery: an all-day event celebrating national youth week. There were all sorts of performances including dance, street dance, fashion shows, circus routines, a rap competition, the high school art competition winners’ display, videos, games and a famous band in the evening. To my amazement, all the performances were very well choreographed, rehearsed and presented. It was an excellent event!
That night I managed to finally find a trance party. Yippie! It was held in a great, spacious events building in a park. The party was free, which is almost unheard of. (as were all the other galleries and events I attended in Brisbane, including the museums) They further amazed my by serving a free buffet meal. But best of all, they played excellent heavy psychedelic trance! Ah, at last! I hadn’t heard that for 2 months, since the Melbourne parties. I went home in the early morning a very happy, thoroughly exhausted dance girl!
After a long rest-and-recovery day, I headed off to the ‘Sunshine Coast’, just northeast of Brisbane for more coastal cycling, camping, and beach life. Several of my Australian crew friends from ’Survivor’ lived along the Sunshine Coast, and I had plans to meet up with them. Otherwise, I was quite looking forward to tanning on the beach, sleeping in my tent and, of course, escaping the TV!
Next report on Australian beach life.