Packing up early, we finished up at Binna Burra with a 'bush brekkie BBQ' and a trip on the flying fox, then headed into Brisbane for the final car preparation work for our Cape York and Kimberley trips. Once finished there, we decided to see what the Gold Coast is all about, and stayed in Surfer's Paradise for the night.
The bush breakfast was OK... Barry did all the cooking, and I saw how billy tea is made. Billy tea is simple: boil the water in the billy, throw in a handful of tea, take the billy off the fire, then let it cool. After breakfast were trips on the flying fox. That's basically sliding down a steel cable and going real fast! You dangle below the cable in a rock-climbing harness, then just sit and zip along the cable 12 feet above the ground. At the bottom, you undo yourself and lower yourself down. Great fun! We said goodbye to Neil and Judy from Sydney too--they're great people, and we're looking forward to visiting them in November after our adventures.
Driving into drove into Brisbane, our first stop was at a discount 4WD accessory store. We need to get a few items: primarily a roof rack to carry the spare tires, or perhaps a rear tire carrier. The quote for the rack was about $900, and the rear tire carrier was $1100. Hm. That's a bit much. We also need to get shocks, as the truck is riding quite low and even with just three of us in the car we were bottoming out, and new tires as the cheap tires that came with the car have fairly thin sidewalls and aren't suitable for rockier areas like Stuart's Stony Desert. But the salesman wasn't helping very much with advice on Australian off-road conditions, and was quite distracted with the phone, so we just left and drove over to Opposite Lock in Newstead.
Ralph from Opposite Lock had called earlier in response to an email Chris had sent. That was a relief. He took one look at the car, said 'whoa, that's riding real low!' and took us around the side to see another Landcruiser with recently fitted coils and shocks. It wasn't monster truck high, but it was quite a bit higher--a good 9 inches between the tire and the top of the well, versus maybe 4 inches for our Landcruiser. Anyway, we'll have them put in new coils and heavier duty shocks... and put on new and slightly taller Cooper tires (including a rim-mounted spare). The roof rack will also be put on, and the UHF radio will be remounted so you don't whack it when you pull up the parking brake. They'll also do the 100,000km service, which is a biggie. With all that done, we'll be ready to go! All we need to buy are some additional things like extra oil and coolant and a few more 10 liter water jugs. With all that scheduled for Monday and Tuesday, we headed towards Surfer's Paradise on the Gold Coast to see what all the fuss was about.
Surfer's is a bit curious--it's high-rise beach resort living.. At first glance of its skyline, I was reminded of Shenzhen, China, just over the border from Hong Kong: all huge residential apartment buildings, twenty to forty stories tall. They're building what they tout as 'the world's tallest residential building' here. It looks like it will only hold that title for a short while; in Melbourne there's a 90 story tall residential tower called the Eureka Tower planned.
We had a hard time deciding where to stay. I wanted to look at some hotels and see what they were like, but as we drove into Surfers I realized it was going to be difficult. There are just far too many choices! We checked into the ANA Hotel (our first five star hotel experience), which was moderately priced, and surprisingly normal. Nothing fancy, except for the heated bathroom mirror--no towel wiping! The hotel does have the best Vintage Cellars wine shop we've seen... you can pick up a six pack vertical of Penfolds Grange for $1800 if you're so inclined.
We wandered out into the streets, looking for Malaysian food. Nothing appealed, and we were starving, so we ended up at the 'seafood and wine buffet' at the Courtyard by Marriott high rise. Not a bad choice, but not the best choice either. We did chat with the restaurant cashier and asked why things were so empty. Apparently we've come between various waves of tourists: the Aussies all visit in December and January and during school holidays, the Chinese and Japanese have just finished visiting (now that Golden Week is over), the Arabs are up next, then it's Russian season.
We came back to the hotel, and basically felt like we'd 'done' Surfers. There just wasn't that much interesting here... it's just a bit like Las Vegas with a beach and without (most) of the casinos. It's built for package tourists... it's big... and that's about it.
So we looked online, saw the Brisbears were having a bar night tomorrow, and decided we'll head back to Brisbane. It looks a lot more interesting than Surfer's to us.
You went to Binna Burra - yay!