Date Tags 2002au

[Note: Queensland is pronounced Queens-LAND, two distinct syllables, the S very distinct from the L.]

We left Lismore about 9 and drove east towards Byron Bay, then headed straight into Brisbane, stopping at Tropical Fruit World for some breakfast. Then we did a bit of shopping around Brisbane, had quite a yummy meal downtown, and headed to bed early.

The drive from Lismore to Byron was kinda congested; it was a busy Saturday morning. We headed straight out to the Byron Bay lighthouse, where just below is the most easterly point of the Australian mainland… and we were quite pleased that with our NSW annual parks pass, we didn’t have to pay the $4 parking fee. Byron Bay has a very surf-town meets New-Age feel to it: lots of surfboards and tie-dye and barefoot folks and white people with dreadlocks and funny huge knit hats. After the requisite picture taking (at the Byron Bay lighthouse, not of the Byron Bay natives, who might resent our anthropological picture-taking), we found our way to the Pacific Highway and headed north towards Murwillumbah.

I remember Murwillumbah from Seaumas’ journal quite a few months ago, as he spent some time there for the ‘rural training’ portion of his medical degree. I expected the town for some reason to be in a steep sided valley, since it’s in the center of an old eroded volcanic caldera. But it’s not—it’s just on a flat plain with deep reddish brown soil that reminds me of Hawaii. Anyway, we blew through town.

I’d heard that there was Tropical Fruit World ( outside of Murwillumbah, but wasn’t quite sure where. We finally saw the Big Avocado sign, and turned to find it on a hill overlooking the new freeway that’s not quite open yet. The gift shop was kinda lame, and we didn’t feel like coughing up the $25 each for the Tropical Fruit World Experience tour (with live show!) but the fruit stand was wonderful. We bought a couple of abiu (fruit, not Sony robotic dog), a rollinia, a dragon fruit, and some bananas. The dragon fruit was surprisingly bland, though the flesh looks like a scary kiwi fruit that’s the color of Hawaiian Punch. The abiu were curiously sweet and sticky. It’s a fruit about the size of an orange, yellow skin and creamy flesh with large seeds, and probably a high latex content—all of our lips got stuck together. The rollinia is like a cherimoya or custard apple, with spiny skin and a lime cream flavor. Iain and I found it appealing; Chris just didn’t go for the citrusy taste.

After the odd breakfast, we drove north, passing into Queensland and cruising up the fast, wide, new four lane freeway from Coolangatta to Brisbane. We dropped Iain off at Kevin and Trevor’s in the southwestern suburbs, then did some shopping… we need a roof rack for our Outback expeditions and I’ve finally decided to upgrade my digital camera. On the roof rack, we struck out as the 4WD shop was closed, but on the camera, I found a display model at an electronics store that was about $100 cheaper than any price I’ve seen. The big bonus was that it was in stock—most camera stores here in Australia don’t have (or can’t keep) the Canon PowerShot G2 in stock. So I grabbed it! Yay—it’s finally the one ‘I’ve quit my job’ present to myself.

We got a hotel—the Good Earth, a tired but clean late 1960’s affair that wouldn’t be out of place in Brasilia—and walked down the hill into town. One very surprising thing I’ve found about Brisbane is that it’s very hilly, even more so than Sydney and Melbourne. Maybe I expected it to be flat like Florida, since Florida-Queensland comparisons are often made. I don’t know. Brisbane’s kinda fun, though, and interesting. It’s not hectic like Sydney, and doesn’t have that self-assuredness that Melbourne has. But hey, I’ve only been here a few hours.

Tomorrow should be easy: breakfast, then a drive south of Brisbane to Binna Burra Lodge along the NSW border. We’re staying there for five nights, doing rainforest hikes and such. Should be relaxing!


May 12 2002, 04:36:52

Theres a swamp by Brisbane Airport if you're looking for Florida. HAHAHA ;)