September 22nd 1983

posted in: The way back | 0

Val at Surfers’ Paradise

In order to escape paying however much the local council would be demanding from us to stay at their campsite, we arose at an exceptionally early hour, pulled down our tent, + trotted across the road to eat our breakfast at one of the beach picnic tables.  It really wasn’t too much of a bind, since we’d already used the showers last night… + very nice it was too.  Very few scruples too about our small piece of subterfuge since, altho’ I’m not a total believer in the all property is theft notion, in this particular case it is undoubtedly true that we need the money a lot more than they do.  Which isn’t much of a justification either, but there you go.  We did wander down to the beach for a few minutes, + Val even went so far as to get into her bikini + run into the Pacific.  As far as her ankles anyway – it was too bloody cold, so she said.  So that was the end of our experience of Surfers Paradise.  So far as I am concerned, the surfers can have it.

It was a fairly short walk out to the highway, + from there we got a lift immediately, first car that came, with a lady teacher to the outskirts of town, away from the purely local traffic.  And in very little time, we had another ride, a very comfortable one this time, with a used car salesman, driving one of his nice new motors all the way – it really isn’t all that far – to the outskirts of Brisbane.  One of the particular benefits of the ride was that he had a perfectly clean + empty boot, so that we were able to stow both of our bags in there, rather than nurse the bloody things.  It was Val’s turn to sit in the front.  Tho’ generally that is the most comfortable seat, it is also the most tiring, since that is the conversation spot.  However, it wasn’t too arduous this time.

We were dropped off at a big satellite shopping centre in the southern suburbs of the city, + we were beckoned by the big golden arches of a McDonalds store.  We’d been presented with McDonalds gift vouchers by Pam + Gerry when we left Melbourne, + still had a dollar’s worth left, so we splurged these on a coke + an apple pie.  We then tried to telephone our 3 Brisbane contacts but without success.  For one, the most likely, the phone had been disconnected, + neither of the others were in, so we decided to head in to the city.

A guy we got chatting with offered us a short ride to the main bus route, so we accepted it.  It was a bit crazy – we found ourselves driving along, just ahead of the express bus into town, desperately trying to get far enough ahead of it to leap off the back of the truck, + hail it at a bus stop.  We made it eventually, + a very nice bus it was too – spacious + air-conditioned.  It dropped us right in the very centre of town, right next to the Queen St mall, so we were able to lug our bags into the shade there + sit ourselves down.  And it was still well before 12.

We wandered the shops a little, taking it in turn to mind the bags, + I rang our other 2 hopes again.  Both of them blew.  Scott, the guy we’d traversed the Panama Canal with, had moved to Western Australia, + Laurie (Bruce + Sandra’s friend) had visitors, so couldn’t put us up.  Ah well.  With those 2 setbacks, we were just about ready to move straight out of Brisbane, but suddenly I remembered (+ really, I had completely forgot) Tony Gorman, + with anything like luck, money.  I rang him, + he told me to come on over – fortunately he had his office right in the city.  Which, as soon as we picked up our photos from the one hour developing, + Val had bought herself a pair of bright green dungarees, we did.

Both mentioned here – the Queen St mall, and the green dungarees

He was quite his old self, of course, full of news about sales + potential sales.  The good news was that I had $123 coming to me.  The bad was that we couldn’t collect it till tomorrow.  “Where are you staying?” asked Tony.  We didn’t know, of course, since we hadn’t planned to stay at all, but with $123 on its way I was quite prepared to, so I said the People’s Palace, a place a backpacker in the street had told me of.  But when Tony suggested staying at his place, a notion I was, I’ll confess, a little unsure of, until he told us he would be out at a meeting for most of the evening.  That, for me, clinched it.  Which is unkind, of course, since it was a kind + selfless offer.

We travelled back with Tony, quite a tortuous trip by bus, train + car.  It must be especially wearing for Tony, who only has one leg (the other is artificial, not strictly missing.)  His place was pleasant enough, tho’ both bare + untidy, but it did possess a colour TV, + a separate room for us.  We joined Tony for dinner at a small café he frequents – he tells us he never eats dinner at home, which is both sad + understandable.  It was a fine dinner, of its kind, tasty yet overcooked.  And cheap, of course – most important.  And then Tony dropped us off back home, before shooting off.  We lazed in front of the telly, watching mostly old British programmes – Man About The House, Some Mothers, Police.  And then, fatigued, to bed.  The photos, by the way, were magnificent.  Especially Angela’s set from the party – a real ego trip for me, who was in most of them, but the others too.

More fortunate than we deserved to be, in that today’s entry details 2 free nights’ accommodation, despite my somewhat sniffy remarks about Tony. Her had been the most old school of all the salesmen I had worked with, but had then headed off to Brisbane to start an office there, to our good fortune. But also, especially after my comments yesterday, an unexpected addition to our funds – as I recall, largely courtesy of Sir Peter Abeles, to whom I had sold a half-page advert in the programme for a Lords Taverners dinner. We had been given a copy of a letter of support from the Duke of Edinburgh, so I popped that in with the info, and that seemed to have done the trick.

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