OZ Blog 2016 PART ONE: Getting Accustomed.
We are here again and by the time you read this it will be day 5 for us in this wonderful country and day seven in all taking into account the travel time. 'Us' this time comprises of Trish and myself accompanied by Merlin. A veteran now of Windies tours, he is once again a virgin when it comes to OZ. Merlin has often asked over the last year, what exactly is OZ like? And for me it's easy to describe. Luckily for him, it's Sweden with better weather. Simple as that. For us Brits, it's paradise, which is totally ironic when you consider the reason most Brits were sent here originally.
I am writing this then, on day five in OZ aboard the train from Brisbane to Beerwah. We have spent the day in Queensland's capital, gawping at the beach within the city and the clean wide streets that you can cross, when the green man allows it, at any angle you wish, giving rise to the initially mind blowing diagonal crossing. In other words, instead of making a vertical and then horizontal crossing as is the norm, you cut out the middle man by going diagonally direct. And there are lots of other common sense ideas to be seen in this city and in the state Itself. Free parking is the norm as is free just about anything else that serves to enhance the OZ experience.
Take for example the beach in the middle of the city, otherwise known as Southbank. Man made, and a watery paradise for adult and more importantly child alike. Adults lounge on the beach, while their children play on a myriad of watery amusements, all supervised by lifeguards. As Merlin said, if he would have brought his three kids here when they were younger, they would have to be prised away screaming at the end of the day. Cost? Nothing. Then, while the kids are safely playing there was a rainforest walk to experience, birds of various variety calling and soaring among the canopy above us, whilst lizards scuttled along in the undergrowth. Cost? Free. And just in case you had forgotten dear reader, this takes place slap bang in the middle of a bustling, cosmopolitan city, bathed in Autumn sunshine.
Merlin is still in discovery mode. All we experience is new to him, and by his demeanour, most gratifying. As the days have rattled by, our esteemed host Jim, resident of Mooloolaba, nestling favourably on the Sunshine Coast, has excelled himself taking us here and there to experience the essence of OZ. The first day in town is always a bit of a Russian Roulette. After a journey of some 24 hours from Blighty, one always arrives in OZ with head similar to that of the day after a heavy bong session of the seventies. Fuddled, muddled and fuzzy. A walk on the beach is the order of the day, something to eat, in our case Barramundi and chips, and bed when you really can't stay awake any more. That adds up to a pretty full day, after arriving at Brisbane at seven in the morning.
Of course no arrival in OZ would be complete with the inevitable Border Security as seen on TV. Last time, last year we breezed through. This time our passage was threatened by the contraband we were being forced to carry. The illegal gear was Merlin's snus. This tobacco product is frowned upon in Ozzie. Merlin depends on it and had been sweating, Popeye Doyle stylie, for some weeks prior to our trip. You see he needs it as you might need a kip in the afternoon or a cup of tea in the early morning. These pouches of nicotinious mush are essential to his avoiding fagging. They work for thousands of dependent Swedes. Not accepted in OZ. Efforts to send a package through the post to Jim had been foiled at Sydney customs house. Merlin resolved then that each one of us would smuggle in two puck like packages of the stuff each and claim it was for our own personal use. How any customs official was going to believe that of my dear innocent looking wife, was beyond my comprehension, although as was pointed out, in this case, her colour could work towards the cause.
We need not have worried, for as we stood, single file on the green line, being sniffed at by a local pooch called 'do not pet' and waiting our turn at the interrogation table, we were saved by a family of oblivious Orientals. Despite the clear list of banned foodstuffs for importation, five fellow travellers from the land of Ga Ga, were hauled up by an incredulous and opinionated official, who wanted to know why they trying to bring a bag of apples through. I have witnessed this scenario countless times on 'Border Security Australia' and there it was playing out in front of my unbelieving but grateful eyes. Otherwise engaged, the blue shirted officials waved us through, snus and all.
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