Flight from Fiji was an hour late, so arrive in Brisbane after 1am. Jump in a cab to the city centre and have the pleasure of seeing Brisbane in full swing – Fortitude Valley (where the clubs are) is like a bad night out in Croydon, pumping poser clubs line the streets, with people staggering in the road, puking up on the pavement etc. Not a great start. By the time I arrive at Base (my hostel), I’m even less convinced. There’s two bars under the hostel, and there’s drunk and passed out people everywhere, sitting on the doorway and staggering up and down the road outside. Get into the hostel, and a retarded-and-surly reception guy eventually manages to book me in for two nights. My room is on the 4th floor of a dilapidated old building (looks like some kind of old warehouse), and is basically an 8ft by 5ft room with a bed in it. Apart from the fact its high enough away from the bars that there’s no noise, I’m not entirely impressed. Dump my stuff and crash out, as I’m not fit to do anything else.
Wake up early, and Base is kicking off. All I can hear is people yelling and running up and down the hallways. It sounds like the final night of Reading Festival. I get dressed and get out of the hostel, decide to check out the town , get an Australian SIM for my phone, and get my Greyhound bus sorted.
Brisbane town centre does kinda remind me of Croydon. Its that kinda place, shops-wise, totally nothing earth shattering. I wander round the shops for a bit, managing to sort the phone pretty quickly. I also manage to get a long sought after flat cap, which I’ve been after for ages. This one is black and a perfect fit – who’da thunk I’d got one of these in Brisbane after searching loads of shops in London and Brighton and not finding any! Then I spot a Nandos. I don’t care how ridiculous it seems, I immediately felt homesick for my fave place to eat, so in I went and had my usual half chicken. Was wicked.
I hadn’t had much chance to research Brisbane, and considering I knew I’d only have one day here, I had no clue what I should be checking out. So I went to the cinema to see “Crazy, Stupid, Love” – which I really enjoyed!
The evening consisted of going to the Down Under Bar (under the hostel) for a $10 steak and some beer, and to watch the rugby (I think the UK were playing). I figured this would be the place to meet other “backpackers”, but it wasn’t the case. The place was full of locals, drunken boisterous rugby fan types, so didn’t feel partically comfortable. A quick chat to the barmaid revealed that nowhere in Brisbane would likely be quiet, so I didn’t even bother trying to find a quiet place to have a beer. Had my steak and decided to have a few more beers and join in with the rugby watching. I finally did get wind of a few backpacker types there – but they were definitely the kind of people that would do my head in after 3 minutes. I spend my life in the UK avoiding 18 year old drunken posers (or wankers as I call them) – I didn’t wanna start having to hang out with them just cos I was in another country. Sorry if I sound like a snob – or an old fart. I’m pretty sure most of my friends would think exactly the same thing.
I kinda fell in that to meet likeminded travellers like myself in a big city is gonna be a lot harder than somewhere smaller, especially when I’m not hanging out in the communal area in the hostel (I didn’t need to hang out in the hostels kitchen – I had money to eat out every night). After 4 pints of XXXX Gold, I decided to call it a night, especially as I had to repack my pesky rucksack and get an early Greyhound in the morning. So I went back to my cell and tried to get some sleep, while the kids at the hostel ran up and down the corridors yelling at the top of their voices.
I’d tried to make the best of the day from my limited knowledge of the area, but at this point, I wasn’t entirely happy with my first experience of an Australian hostel, and was pretty unsure of what was to come – and not in a good way! My initial thought was – if I’m not gonna meet anyone, then why should I spend all my time in a crappy hostel? I may as well get hotels – at least they’ll be more comfortable!
Next morning I caught my Greyhound Bus to Hervey Bay. And it was pretty cool actually. The journey was straight forward and the bus was half empty so had a row to myself. After we took the route out of the city along the river (and realised I prob could have hung out along there the previous day), the first stop was Australia Zoo – another place I probably should have organised to check out! GUTTED!
Got to Hervey Bay 5 hours later, and was totally shocked to find the Flashpackers Hostel bus waiting at the bustop for me! Impressed! The guys that ran the place were really friendly and helpful, and I checked into an immaculate 4 bed dorm – of which I was the only occupant. RESULT! Bumped into a few of the other residents while checking out the kitchen/common room area, but most of them were grunty 18 year olds – I’d say hello an that to them, but they’d barely look me in the eye and answer me. Whatever. With that I took myself off to the beach, and had a wander around for a while before I went to the pub. From my memory of Aussie beaches, this was no different – clear blue sea, massive sandy beach, with barely any people on it! Had a wander down the beach, walked along the front and checked out the shops, then stopped at the Torquay Hotel for some beers, had fish’n’chips (barramundi), and watched a cheesy cover band while sitting in the sun. Lovely. By the time I got back to the hostel I'd had 4 VBs and was a bit tiddly – but seeing as I’d had such a lukewarm reception earlier, I didn’t bother making an effort to meet anyone else, and kept to myself, messing with the PC. Which as it turned out was a bit daft, as amongst the monosyllabic retards were a couple of people that I’d meet the following day on my three day Fraser Island trip. Oh well, they could have made the effort as well!
Next morning, early start, packed a smaller bag (left my main rucksack at the hostel), and got my coach to Riverhead for the ferry to Fraser Island and my “Cool Dingos” Fraser Island trip. Must say, I was pretty excited as this was the main reason why I’d flown into Brisbane. HELL YEAH!!