The weather still hadn’t improved on the morning we left Byron Bay. We took advantage of the facilities of our expensive campsite till the very last moment, cooking up a hearty fry-up and toast (we had electricity for the toaster!) for breakfast. This would keep us going throughout our long drive to Gold Coast and food-shopping expedition.
Gold Coast is a typical beach-front holiday-resort, so not the kind of place we would usually visit, prefering more quiet, remote locations. But luckily for us, our New-Zealand friends from Dunedin (Sandra and Shane), who now live in Brisbane, were hosting a week-long get-together there, and had kindly invited us to partake in the first-evening’s events! We didn’t quite realise what we were getting ourselves into: a 20-year reunion of 30+ friends, who were mostly Kiwi psychiatric nurses!
After initial introductions, some generously recounted a few unique stories and hands-on experiences, working in the various fields of psychiatric nursing over the years. We were understandibly very curious, and this kept the conversation going well into the first round of beers and finger=food. We moved on to many other topics including our travels around the world, and cultural differences. Everyone was very open and welcoming, even though they were a close-knit group who hadn’t seen eachother in a long time. The night ended dancing to some 80’s classics (or watching others dance!), while old photo albums were being passed around. We had a great evening, full of happy company, interesting conversation and good food, drink and music!
We drove to another highway rest area that night, as close as possible to our next stop: Brisbane.
Sandra very kindly offered her sister Megan’s hospitality for the following night. We got in touch with Megan and her husband, Ian, and sure enough, without even having met us, they insisted we come over. We spent the day in Brisbane, mainly at the Queensland Museum, browsing through a free and fascinating exhibition of space photography which had been recommended to us, before moving on to the natural history section which displayed specimen of unique Australian rocks, insects, birds and animals.
Outside the museum, the weather had cleared and we experienced our first truly hot day in a long time. After a late lunch, we strolled through the streets admiring art and sculptures which had been incorporated into the architecture.
We strolled through the Botanical Gardens, before returning to the river-front for a stunning sunset over Brisbane’s city-scape.
While we were out, Megan and Ian were preparing the most amazing barbecue (or ‘barbie’, of course), on their spacious deck. We hit it off right from the start, listening to Megan and Ian’s funny stories about travellers they’ve hosted, and talking about travel, jobs, family, movies, series and the NZ film industry, rugby (a Super Rugby game was on in the background), life in Europe, and a touch of politics and environmentalism. We litteraly couldn’t keep our mouths shut long enough to chew on the succulent meat that Ian had grilled, and the fresh, scrumpious salad and veggies Megan had prepared.
We got our first taste of kangaroo meat, which was surprisingly less tough or gamey than we expected, actually very juicy! We slept like babies that night, in the fresh sheets of their guest bed, our little van parked out front.
Thanks so much Megan, Ian, Sandra and Shane: you are welcome anytime in Grenoble!