Australia

Australia: Brisbane and Saint Hughs

Just for Nick – dates written the Aussie way and in kilometers (in miles for US)

Friday, 27/11 – I leave the Gold Coast and head to Springbrook National Park to hike the Purling Brook Falls Circuit and Warringa Pool. I am up at 5 am which sounds horrible, but it’s super easy when you fell asleep about an hour after the sun went down. I breakdown the tent, eat breakfast, and shower before starting my adventure. Though I am not the world’s greatest hiker nor do I have all the proper gear, I know from research the Purling Brook Falls Circuit isn’t going to kill me. The drive to park is about an hour to an hour and half away from the Gold Coast (depending on traffic). It’s also a scenic drive. There’s something about driving up a mountain of rainforests as the sun shines down on the day. It’s just stunning. I hike the circuit and I’m encounter by a lizard and I’m not talking like what people keep for pets. This is basically a black snack with feet. We scare the shit out of each other. I might have let out a small eeek. He scurries into the rain forest and I trek on. I run into 2 more of the “snake with feet”. I also run into a snake, enough spider webs to spin my own web, and itty-bitty lizards scurrying across the path. Mother Nature is around me and making itself known. My over active imagination is of course in high gear and every rustle in the forest is a death dealing creature of the unknown. Through out my hike, I see parts where the water has stopped flowing or dried up and I start to get that sinking feeling that I’m hiking into the rain forest for nothing, but Mother Nature does not disappoint. (If I’m honest, she rarely does.) I want to jump into the pool at the base of the waterfall but it’s sacred to the land and eco system (also illegal) so I just stare at its beauty. If you do the circuit, you should know that if you go to Warringa Pool, it’s a dead end and one must hike back from it. It was serene just to sit on giant rocks and stare for a moment. The great thing so far about my journey into parks and such is that I haven’t been surrounded by 1001 tourists or natives on vacation. I’ve kind of had most of the parks to myself and it’s been awesome. After I hike, I head towards Brisbane. When I came in 2010, we drove through Brisbane as we couldn’t find parking for Gordon the Campervan and honestly he felt like a tank in the city. Even as I drove Hailey the Hyundai around Brisbane, she felt like a tank. Maybe your roads are smaller Brisbane, but I couldn’t find my hotel and get parked fast enough!! I shower and grab an Uber to Brew. What a disappointment. While it reminded me of dive bars in NoDa, it seemed the servers could have cared less that I wanted to spend my money in their establishment. I was having such a shit time I didn’t even finish my beer. I walk through Queens Market and it’s the mecca of high end stores. (Charlotte, it’s like SouthPark Mall but spread out over a city block and then stacked on each other.) Granted, if I had seen a Tom Ford store (I didn’t google so I don’t know), I would have just stood outside of it, drooling. I end up at dinner at Jamie Oliver’s restaurant, Jamie’s Italian. First, a hostess with a smile and second, two servers with a smile. Did I just get transported to happyville? As a few Aussie natives have told me, the service industry doesn’t work on tips, they get paid by the hour and by American standards it’s damn awesome by the hour and way above minimum wage. So they’re not kissing your ass for tips and for the most part, they seem annoyed you even bothered coming. Jen, my server, got a tip anyway because she smiled and was polite and answered my menu questions with a genuineness in helping me make the best choices. Was it the greatest tip ever? No, it was just $10 AUD and that would probably by her a shit beer or at least 2 cups of her choice of coffee. After dinner, I trek back to my hotel on foot. Horrible idea. I wasn’t wearing the right shoes and I had no clue where I was going since the GPS on my phone just kept telling me I’d be there in 10 minutes. (It was like the scene of out Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels when Bacon keeps asking if the sausages are done and the guy just keeps saying 2 minutes and it’s never 2 minutes.)

Saturday, 28/11 – On this journey, I’ve had severe “shiny quarter syndrome” (that’s ADD for those who are like huh?). I start my walk with the intention of going to the City Botanic Garden, but hey look, China Town. I traipse through China Town and hit the Fortitude Valley Markets and find this awesome little tent called Fred Bear. (Check them out at www.instagram.com/fred_bear or www.work-shop.com.au/the-makery) I pick up a skirt and continue on my journey. In short, I covered Brisbane Square, walked across the Victoria Bridge towards the Southbank of Brisbane and hit up Queensland Art Gallery (QAG for short), the Wheel of Brisbane, the Rainforest Walk in the middle of the city, Goodwill Bridge and more. Did I mention it was hot? It’s not a baking heat like the day it was 1001 degrees in Bondi, but a stick to your skin heat that makes you sticky where your sweat doesn’t even want to touch you but doesn’t have a choice. I also have a realization and I realize that Brisbane is pretty much Asia. Seriously, it’s filled to the brim with Asians and I don’t mean touristy Asians. Instead of feeling like I’m in Australia, I feel like I’m in insert popular Asian city of choice.

Sunday, 29/11 – this is the day I’ve been waiting for and the reason I drove to Brisbane. Saint Hughs is opening for Francesca de Valence. EEEKKK! ←fan girl squeal! If you don’t know Saint Hughs please go to their website now www.sainthughs.com.au and fall in love them. Saint Hughs is Nick O’Donnell and Drew Fellows from 26 (www.26theband.com – just go buy everything by both bands, you won’t be disappointed.) This was the FIRST EVER Saint Hughs show. Their first show and I got to be a witness. I can’t even. I can’t even!
Prior to the show I had coffee and a bite to eat with Nick. It was so great to finally meet the man, the myth, the legend in person. He gave us suggestions when we traveled in 2010 and we’ve chatted back and forth across the interwebs and email, but it was awesome to have a face-to-face conversation with him. I also got to finally meet his insanely inspiring partner in crime, Karen Peace, (www.facebook.com/PieceXPeaceCreative) and their lovely daughters. Though I know they were real life humans, they became real and something more than just a social media handle. I seriously want to put this bunch in my pocket. They are absolute rays of sunshine (even brighter than what shines here in Australia!). If you’re around them, you’re just happy. They’re good souls and have great energies. I love them.
The Saint Hughs show was so good. It was only half of the boys. Drew couldn’t make it for the show 😦 #JustMissingFellows He checked in on his creative partner in crime and made sure I gave support. It boggles my mind that as amazing as one half of them was live, how fantastical they would be as a duo. (Can we make that happen this year?) If Saint Hughs plays your hood, DO NOT MISS THEM. If you do, you need to be ninja kicked in the teeth. PERIOD. Beside it being a highlight ini my concert history (in my top 10 concert highlight fellas), I do have this moment that was my favorite. A song was just coming to an end and a breeze carried the scent of rain and frangipani through the air and into the venue. They just danced with music and slipped out unseen like a ghost. To be able to witness music and Mother Nature share a moment via your sense of smell and your hearing…it gave me chills. That is a concert moment I will not forget, like my first pyro at a Rammstein show. Powerful.
I really didn’t want Sunday to end. I had the absolute best time and could have spent the entire night talking to Karen and Nick and listening to Saint Hughs live. It has been my favorite day I’ve had in Australia and the rest of Australia will have a lot to live up to. I hope it accepts the challenge.

Kilometers walked in from 27/11-29/11: 35 km (22 miles)
Drove: …notes in car…too lazy to crawl out of my tent to find them
Photos: Brisbane (missing some, internet is a bit craptastic here)