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Friday, 9 December 2011

Wanted Down Under

Right, let's bring this blog up to speed as alot has happened and I'm missing a few important bits.

Where were we? Oh yes, on my way to Airlie Beach airport which I may add consists of 2 check in desks and 2 very chilled check in ladies.  Thankfully she didn't seem too bothered about the 7extra kilos I had in my bag. Oops!  The departure lounge not to unlike that of Inverness. In fact I think Inverness is way bigger but the departure lounge and the runway are right next to each other. You get the idea though. 
I still hadn't organised accommodation by the time we reached the airport so after a couple of frantic calls I eventually sorted out a super duper deal by playing a couple of hotels off of one another. We ended up at The Ibis in the centre of Brisbane. It was a good location and the hotel was comfortable. Sadly no pool. Mollie quite miffed at this but Brisbane does have a lagoon in the centre which I said we would try and get to. (we never made it )

We literally had one and a half days in Brisbane and soooo much to see and do. The hotel lobby was full of ideas of things to do but the main one has to be Australia Zoo. Crocs Rule!!! So I booked us in for the following day. ANOTHER early start. Down in reception for 8am on Tuesday 29th November Mollie and I head to the zoo which is a good hours journey north of Brisbane. 

In order to get into the festive spirit because I can assure you it feels NOTHING like Christmas over here, I decided to keep Mollie up later on the Monday in order to see the Christmas lights in Brisbane centre. We headed into the town from the hotel which was 10 minutes walk. As we hit the central square there in front was a huge Christmas tree covered in lights - ahhh! That's more like it. It was stunning. It kept flicking on and off however. Apparently they were testing it. The official turning on wasn't for another few days. Never mind. Mollie was chuffed to see it. We then wandered into town to get something to eat and luckily fell upon an outside area but upstairs which overlooked Brisbane with live entertainment AND families!!! . It was fab. Very cost effective. Let me explain how they keep costs down. You get seated and you are directed to the board and the menu. When you want to place your order you go to the desk. Check. Pick up your cutlery check. Pickup your very own pager which beeps and vibrates when your meal is ready. Check!!! What?!! I was presented with a handheld pager which summoned me back to the order desk when my order was ready. You can do it for drinks as well. It cuts down on the need for staff. The place was jam packed so it was obviously good. Mollie and I sat out under the stars and ate fish and chips and sang along to the music. A really good evening but a late one. Alarm!!! I need to be up at 7.00 for tomorrow so I set my iPhone and alarm clock just in case..........

01.40 Quack, quack, quack, My alarm on my phone is going. Nope hold on, it's the phone. Hmmmmm who the beep is calling? 
Me: Hello? 
Caller: Hi, is this Pennie Stewart? 
Me: (gggggrrrrr if this is O2 I will shout at someone) yes! 
Caller: Hi Pennie, my name is Jesse from the Wanted Down Under programme. Im one of the researchers on the show. We really liked your application and wanted to discuss interviewing you to see if we could get you through to the next stage.......

Eeeeeeeeeeek! Haha well that was a turn up for the books. I actually wrote a letter to them last year which got me the official application. I then completed the application back at the start of the year and submitted it not thinking anything of it. It has taken them nearly a year to respond. The conversation didn't actually last very long as I had to explain why I was sounding a bit groggy at 15.40 GMT Sadly because I am in Oz already they aren't allowed to take people who have been there within  the last year so we have been ruled out. Could I get back to sleep after this call? No! I kept going over it in my head and feeling like I had missed out but thinking carefully about it and the person that I am, could I have gone through with it had I gotten to that stage? I suspect not. It's taken me a long time to get to where I am in my time and to have things raked up again and even other people knowing my business? I suspect not.......maybe I have  had a close shave. Besides, I think 6 months is way better than one week!!!! 

Anyway, we made 7.00 am for showers and breakfast and we were both ready and waiting in the reception for the bus at 8.00am.
We are duly picked up at the hotel for 8.10. Mollie and I had already been out and about and at 7.30 it was 18 degrees. It was going to be TOAST! the bus was heading to a wee place called Beerwah that has actually grown in size because of the reputation of Australia Zoo
We arrived at the zoo after an hours bus journey. It was quite nice to be sitting and taking things in instead of concentrating on traffic and roads and which turn off to take. Brisbane is a city on the back foot of Sydney and Melbourne. It's a lot more laid back but I get the feeling that it is expanding and growing in popularity. The road network was undergoing huge expansion when we were there but there wasn't alot being worked on I may add! 
Back to the zoo! The zoo just sort of creeps up on you. The bus took us out on to the freeway for a bit and then turns off onto the Steve Irwin road which I think is cool. All along this road and indeed the freeway there are big boards of Steve up with crocs and the word 'Crikey' across them advertising Australia Zoo. When we pulled off of the road the bus took us into a small track road and then up to the front of the zoo. It is a very underwhelming entrance for something so famous but as it was pointed out when Steve's parents had it, it was a fraction of the size it is now. So, anyway not to gloss over Australia Zoo too much but we did have a fantastic day. As soon as you enter it the people and zoo tries to educate you in everything from crocs to snakes to elephants. It is a fantastic experience. Not cheap! But fantastic. We were given a couple of badges when we entered with 'CrocsRule' on them. Mollie put several holes in herself trying to put hers on! The first show started at 11am and was a Croc show in the 'crocoseum' I was an avid watcher of Steve Irwin and it was quite surreal to be sat there waiting for the croc show. In alot of his later shows he uses his crocoseum and other parts of the zoo to talk about the crocs. Anyway, the show commenced and to say the least it was pretty cool. I got the feeling the staff try their hardest to carry on Steve's beliefs and they do a really good job but the energy that Steve had isn't there. It's hard to explain but the enthusiasm and 'oomph' wasn't there. But it was still a really good show. I watched Mollies face as she focused on the crocs and the elephants and the black parrots that they brought out. 

The day was non stop in temperatures hitting 27/28 degrees! We saw loads of animals and had a chance to take in lots of shows. Mollie had the chance to stroke more koalas, feed more kangaroos and chase bearded lizards round the zoo. Theres loads of wildlife which just wanders round the zoo. Its brill! We ended the day up at the new addition to the zoo, a Safari section. It was whilst we were walking back down that I spotted Terri & Bindi making a new advert for the zoo. The tv crews had been wandering around the whole day taking pictures and videos before filming up at the back of the zoo. It looked like they were trying to promote the new section of the zoo. 

We returned to the bus for 4.30pm which had air con. Bliss! Mollie fell asleep 5 minutes down the road from the zoo. Peace!! It was a cracking day and highly recommended to anyone out this way. 

Tuesday night was pretty quiet. Mollie was exhausted as I was and we also had to get ready for making our way to Macleay Island.  Bags packed and ready to go...........

Two whole weeks in one place. Can't wait. 

Pen x

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