We arrived in Brisbane on Sunday 9th January and found our last campsite for a while. We walked all over the city the next day looking for somewhere to live and after trying several grotty and/or expensive hostels we found one that also does apartments. We moved into our four rooms on Tuesday 11th and are very happy, Helen even did a roast as a house warming, very exciting to be able to cook again after four months! We have really learned to appreciate the basics, a proper bed seems like a real luxury and a wardrobe is heaven!
We started the job hunt straight away but didn't find anything for about two weeks. We were getting pretty demoralised by that point but then Doug found a job waitering at Venice Cafe, a fancy restaurant. He has done a few shifts there but isn't enjoying it at all, good job it's not for long. Helen is registered with a child care agency and has had a few days work, it pays quite well because of the responsibility involved and is really fun, much of it is playing games and reading to the kids, although some dirty nappies have been involved! So we're both earning some money, and it has been worth stopping here for so long.
We have been offered some other odd days work by our hostel but after our first experience of traditional backpacker work we have realised we really aren't that desperate! We worked for 7.5 hours with no break, in a burger van! It was far and away the worst job either of us has ever done; it was greasy, dirty, smelly and hard work. The customers were rude and the people in charge were constantly cracking the whip and shouting at everyone. And all that for only 4 pounds an hour! Never again!
It hasn't been all work and no play though. We went to a one day cricket match at the Gabba on Friday 21st January. Australia were playing the West Indies and they played really badly which was good to see, it doesn;t happen very often! They would have lost spectacularly if the game hadn't been rained off. For those of you interested in this sort of thing, Australia were 30 for 5 at one point! Suddenly the Ashes are looking a lot more promising for England!
The rain continued all of that week thanks to a cyclone in northern Queensland, and Australia Day was largely cancelled because of it. If we cancelled and abandoned stuff like the Aussies do because of a bit of heavy drizzle, we'd never get anything done! There was supposed to be a parade during the day on Australia Day (26th January) but in the end we only had the fireworks, which were good. We saw a lot of people wandering around aimlessly looking like they weren't really sure why they weren't at work that day but eventually we found the Aussie spirit alive and well in a pub on the South Bank. We listened to the live music then sat on the balcony for a few drinks and the fireworks. So it all worked out alright in the end!
Apart from that we haven't done much since arriving here, partly in the name of saving money but mainly because Brisbane doesn't exactly boast a great social life. In the evenings and at weekends lots of shops and other places are closed and there are very few people out and about. There aren't really many sights to see here either, the main attraction is the South Bank which has been regenerated recently (as in all cities with an unused riverbank) and has theatres, a museum, exhibition centre and even a man made beach! Brisbane is a nice, small, safe city but has no real attractions for visitors. It's nice though in a way as we are in a real Australian city, unlike Sydney where we barely met an Aussie!
We are leaving Brisbane on Tuesday 8th February to head north towards Cairns and the Reef. We can't wait to get back on the road. Although it has been good to stay in one place for a while, we didn't come to Australia to work crap jobs and pay 38% tax!