The Queensland Odyssey : Itinerary

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Back to Reality…

It’s noon on a Monday and I’m struggling to keep my eyes open at my desk. I’ve spent the past two days in beautiful Tea Gardens on the coast just north of Newcastle. To say I was surprised by the beauty of the sleepy little village is an understatement. I had no idea that such a stunning location existed so close my former stomping grounds in Newcastle.

I’ll give a blow by blow of an epic weekend of drinking with locals, chasing dolphins, climbing up ridiculously high sand dunes, spear fishing, ribald conversation, and high stakes Scrabble just as soon as I get home, get showered, and get the photos off my camera.

I pity the people sharing a cubicle with me today. I smell of saltwater and hostels. That’s a sexy visual image for you ladies out there.

The whole trip was possible thanks to Ford – who were kind enough to loan me the brand new Ford Focus with a full tank of gas to get there and back again. A big thanks to them for making the trip possible as well as to my friends for tagging along and making it memorable. I’m sure Mel from The Mellyboo Project and Annie from Wayward Traveler will have their own recounts of the experience to join mine soon enough.

Enjoying a coconut on the beach in Hainan, China
Enjoying a coconut on the beach in Hainan, China

The Queensland Odyssey

While there is a wee bit of wailing and gnashing of teeth from this poor sufferer of Mondayitis, I’m not doing it so tough. In fact, in five short days I’ll be packing my bags and getting on my first plane since leaving South Korea to take me off on my first solo adventure.

While I’ve had some unforgettable trips in the past few years that included surfing in Manly, learning to scuba dive on the Barrier Reef, exploring New Zealand, and relaxing in Fiji – all of those trips were planned by my ex-girlfriend and I was just a willing and grateful participant. Planning is not my forte.

But my Queensland trip is shaping up as something pretty damn awesome. I’m really excited about it not only because it’s going to be fun, but because it’s my first brush with planning a whole trip on my own. Consider it a test run for my next big trip.

I’m packing a whole hell of a lot into my trip. There’s two theme parks, a Zombie Walk, Halloween costume shenanigans, catching up with heaps of friends and family, rekindling my love affair with Hell Pizza, and a week living a life of leisure at beautiful Tangalooma on Moreton Island. I’m thinking some scuba diving, stand up paddle-boarding, and sand tobogganing are just what the doctor ordered.

World’s best doctor.

October 22nd to October 23rd – Being a nerd in Brisbane

Affectionately known in my home town as ‘Brisvegas’, Brisbane is a city I’ve visited quite often as a child but never as an adult. I’m looking forward to checking out Queensland’s capital without the leash of parents or teachers to keep me in check. And while I’d originally looked at Brisbane as a kind of boring stop-off before I headed out to the island, I’ve somehow managed to pack heaps into my two days and three nights there.

After touching down in the afternoon of the 22nd I’ll be quickly snapped up by my cousin David and his wife Vanessa, who have kindly offered to put me up for a few nights as well as show me the town. Saturday night holds a visit to Mana Bar. While it won’t be my first brush with mixing alcohol and video games (Ground Kontrol in Portland took that particular honor), it’s definitely a tad more upscale than the Pabst Blue Ribbon and old arcade games of that particular Portland institution.

Dressed as a zombie for Galloween 2008
My first attempt at being a zombie. Dressed up for the Speakeasy Halloween in Gwangju, South Korea. Photo by Derek Hannon.

I’m nerdishly excited about sipping on a richly alcholic Mana Potion cocktail while kicking my cousin-in-law’s ass at a game of Mario Kart. And hopeful that there will be plenty of cosplay enthusiasts there for me to take embarassingly nerdish photos with…

Sunday is a big one. I’ll be up bright and early (and probably nursing a hangover) to get my makeup applied for the Brisbane Zombie Walk. Shambling through the streets of Brisbane with a few thousand of my closest risen dead compadres seems like the perfect way to spend what I am praying is not a hot and humid day.

Once the shambling and the eating of brains has come to an end, I’ll be hurriedly scrubbing off my makeup and fake blood in preparation for a visit to the Brisbane wing of the very popular Belgian Bier Cafe chain. A few comically large beers and a bit of saeurkraut ought to hit the spot after the day’s festivities, and I’m looking forward to catching up with Kiri and her husband Trevor. I had several drama classes with Kiri in school and haven’t had the pleasure of meeting her husband just yet. I just feel bad that the expectant mother won’t be able to participate in the fine beer!

October 24th – Dream World

Excited by the rollercoasters at Silverwood
Me at Silverwood in 2009. My love for rollercoasters should be obvious.

Australia doesn’t have a Six Flags or a Disney Land (or Disney World). Dream World is about as good as it gets on the theme park front in Australia, and it’s not a bad effort for a country that doesn’t seem to share the American fascination with deep fried foods and roller-coasters.

I haven’t been to Dream World since I was twenty or so, and the park has gone all out and installed three insane new thrill rides since my last visit. I’m very much looking forward to trying out the new Tower of Terror, the terrifying looking Buzzsaw, and the Shockwave. And there’s plenty of old friends I need to catch up as well. The Wipeout, Thunder River Rapids Ride, and Captain Stuart Riverboat are all due for a much needed reunion. Then there’s Tiger Island, the legendary iMax cinema, and a few childhood rides that I may be too big to ride. But expect lots of photos and lots of video from my visit to Australia’s #1 theme park.

Later that evening I’ll return to Brisbane for a chance to enjoy a slice of Hell Pizza with some old buddies. In keeping with my nerdy Brisbane adventures, it’ll be a bite with four guys I’ve known for several years as a result of participating in the same fantasy rugby league competition. Having met one of them previously and spoken for years via forum or MSN messenger with the others – it’ll be good to finally be able to put old rivalries inside and share a few beers and a few slices of New Zealand’s greatest export since Phar Lap.

October 25th to 30th – Tangalooma

I’m really lucking out on this one. My old friend and former housemate Ben just happens to work on the idyllic island resort and he just happens to have a spare bed that he’s more than willing to lend me in exchange for a carton of beer and a few lessons in Korean.

Apparently Moreton Island is a very popular destination with Korean tourists. Time to put my broken Korean to the test…

I couldn’t be more excited for my time in paradise. The resort boasts everything from segway tours to scuba diving to dolphin feedings to outdoor cinemas. While it’s not likely to be busy due to it not yet being peak season, I’m looking forward to a few lazy days on the beach with an old mate. And it’s been over ten months since my last foray into scuba diving.

I’m overdue.

I’ll do my best to do the island justice after I’m done soaking it all in, but in the meantime you’ll get an idea of just what I’ll be doing by checking out their website.

October 31st – Halloween at Movie World

A very excited zombie with his pretty Oregonian friend
My friend Sarah can scarce resist my zombie charms. I am eating a sandwich. Photo by Tim Allen.

The catalyst for this entire trip was my old friend Temissa suggesting that I tag along for Halloween at Movie World. Dubbed ‘Fright Night‘, the event transforms Australia’s second most popular theme park into something out of nightmare by paying tribute to classic horror movies, keeping the thrill rides open late, and having Freddy Kruger and all of his homicidal friends roaming the park.

I’ve got my eye on a particularly creepy costume of my own for the evening.

I’ve not been to Movie World before either, so I’ll be heading over early in the day for a chance to try out multitude of rollercoasters that have made the park famous will be a lot of fun. There’s also a lot of Hollywood themed shows to be checked out such as a Hollywood stunt show and a 4-D ride that I’m intrigued by.

I’ll also get the chance to catch up with an old high school buddy and his new wife after the whole affair, and then it’s back to reality to work a few days (a whole two) before I have to head to my hometown for my ten year high school reunion.

No rest for the bearded.

A much younger Chris at his graduation
A much younger Chris at his graduation. Hard to believe it's been ten years! Photo by Jillanne Herbert

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