Taking the bins out Warning in the morning

Episode 5 of Australia 2019 is finally here! I’m sure everyone, including me, is delighted that I’ve finally got round to writing this. Honestly, not being able to get into the proper habit of writing things up in a timely fashion - due to a mixture of horrible connectivity and day after day of extremely early starts - I’ve struggled to gee myself up for diary writing, even though I’m my own main audience.

Anyway, that’s enough stream of consciousness prologue. Let me try and recall what on earth I did on Wednesday.

Wednesday (10th July, if you’re keeping track)

Hmm. Let’s see. We’d spent aaaages in the car on Tuesday so were definitely going to Not Do That the following day so... aha, yes. Now I remember. I got up and tried to type up some previous experiences, only to find that the brother and nieces were already heading out for breakfast at, like, 8am or something. Also I think I got carried away with watching Face/Off - broadcast early doors, without requiring a parental lock PIN, the day after I’d complained loudly about how awful Nic Cage is.

Despite all my rage, people keep casting Nicolas Cage

Breakfast, then, at Social Brew - one of many local businesses that piss me off by having “brew” in their name yet not being a brewery. As usual, Harry ordered something she basically refused to finish, certainly leaving aside anything which had a hint of healthiness, and triggering a bit of parental (and unclental[?]) verbals. Seriously, just eat something that isn’t sugar or chips or bacon. Please?

There’s banana on that plate. She had little of it. There’s honeycomb. She had a bit of it. I forget what else there is, but I do remember she didn’t have much of it. Mine was this.

Looks like a pizza. Is actually a 4 egg omelette. The accompanying drink was some super-healthy smoothie made predominantly of vegetables, and it was disgusting. I finished it anyway, and then ruined my sparkling water by putting the straw from the smoothie into the glass. Damn it.

After a trek around numerous shops in the hope of finding just a tiny bit of washing powder rather than enough to last 3 weeks, we buy enough washing powder to last 3 weeks. At the accommodation the kids watch TV and the adults put clothes in the wash. I do manage to spit out a diary entry, and when the washing is done we put it in to dry and head out to explore Burleigh Heads.

Unlike the actually bleak midwinter of Friday to Monday, the weather is now bloody wonderful. We’ve told the kids that we’re all going to walk around the headland to Palm Beach on the other side, where we’ll buy lunch. The binoculars which I’ve brought over from London as a gift to the family come out with us, proving extraordinarily popular with Harry even at the most inappropriate places. Later she will watch TV with them.

Surfers Paradise looks cool in weather like this.

The Burleigh Heads walk isn’t actually very long, it’s just a nice walk around the headland here. We’re quite slow, since there’s a lot of binocular-using going on, as well as a few pics of, like, surfers and stuff.

The surf is OK. There are some decent waves and some surfers making the best of them. Animal-wise we aren’t seeing much, however. About halfway through the walk something - I forget what - triggers the topic of safety, after which Harry and AJ become our safety officers for the remainder of the walk. Remarkably, this seems to make them behave the best they’ve done all week - they cooperate, they don’t shout, they don’t disappear from view, and they don’t do anything unsafe. Winner!

Kevin looks out, wistfully.
Also there’s this tree that looks like a rope.

At the end of the walk there’s a bridge across an estuary. There are loads of rivers around here. Seriously, go look up the Gold Coast or Burleigh or Palm Beach on Google Maps and see how much inland water there is. It’s pretty crazy.

Around the way we’re at Palm Beach, and there’s a surf life saving club. Or maybe I’ve misremembered, and maybe it’s an RSL club. Kinda like the British Legion. I’m meant to show photo ID but have none, and can’t even bring up a picture of my passport on my phone. Bored of waiting for me to comply, they wave me in, and we go grab a seat in the half-outdoors bit and buy mediocre food and drink. The kids’ food comes with ice cream, redeemable by voucher from a counter, and this enables me to withhold it until and unless they finish the entirety of their savoury goods.

Blue-headed honey-eaters, which a couple of days ago Kevin had said were moderately rare to see up close due to their shyness, are all over the place. They’re hopping around on the fencing and on nearby tables and chairs and they’re not flying away even when AJ takes my camera to go take a picture.

I took this one.

Next door is a play area, so me and Kevin stick around with a beer while the kids burn off some energy.

AJ took this one.

Walking back, we’re delayed somewhat by a lady from Yorkshire who’s making the mistake of walking a Pomeranian dog near some excitable children. Back across the river and round the headland, Harry slows down to a excruciating pace, complaining that all the walking has made her legs hurt. Of course, this is bullshit, as whenever her sister up ahead says there’s something worth looking at through binoculars she manages a sprint. Christ, children eh?

Another 1.5km or so beyond the accommodation is a brewery, which is good. This is Black Hops, which is you drop the H like a Londoner seems a bit like some covert operation. Upon arrival me and Kevin order an eggnog stout, and are told by the friendly barmaid that it was the first beer they ever made. Wow!

Because Kevin finds it too cold, he leaves most of his stout alone and almost instantly buys an IPA of sorts to drink while it warms up. I go for some coffee porter or something (Chair Force One, IIRC), and then a tasting paddle. All the beer is delicious, frankly.

We buy a few takeouts for home, including the 11% version of the eggnog stout that’s a “French imperial” variation. I’m massively looking forward to it, as I am the cricket which... oh. I was sure it was on on Wednesday evening (“the cricket” meaning the semi-final of the one-day World Cup between England and Australia) but it wasn’t, I was a day out. So instead we watched the first half of the State of Origin rugby league game.

State of Origin is an annual contest only between Queensland – or “the Maroons”, pronounced “Ma-rones”, bizarrely – and New South Wales. The teams comprise players who made their senior debut in the state in question, and the winner gets to brag that... actually, I dunno. It doesn’t seem to make much sense, but it’s hugely popular and regarded as one of the best rugby league games on the planet each year.

I managed to watch the first half, just about. Didn’t follow much what was going on. Enjoyed the tins of Black Hops beer, until Kevin opened the 11% thing and HOLY SHIT IT’S DISGUSTING. Tastes like someone spilt their stout into a glass of nasty red wine. Horrid. I didn’t even open mine, and he didn’t finish his. What a shit way to end the day.


Up early enough to catch up on diary writing, I failed dismally to do so, instead getting carried away watching The Firm. Also, with a checkout time of 0930 I kinda thought we’d be checking out at 0930, but Kevin popped up on messenger at 0730 saying “hey, we’re all ready to go”. Shit!

Showered, washed up, tidied, packed, and we all left come 0830 or so. Paddock, where me and Kevin had gone after Parkrun on the previous Saturday, was calling us for breakfast.

Harry was worse than ever, ordering a bacon and egg sandwich only to give away all the egg, eat only half the bacon, and not touch the bread. OK, no sugary treat for you then. AJ, on the other hand, ate everything she ordered and more, and was allowed a treat.

Also these weird things appeared, which I tried to identify via Google Lens.

Google says they are sea urchins. This seems unlikely. Anyway, breakfast done it’s time to go to “where Australia’s Day begins”. This is an hour or so in the car, up in New South Wales. It’s a nice drive once we’re off the main drag.

As we come off the less-main drag onto the totally-not-remotely-main drag, Kevin pauses the car to perfectly compose a picture.

A few minutes winding along gravel tracks and we’re at the car park for Mount Warning. They say this is where Australia’s day starts because at one time of year - either mid-summer or mid-winter, not sure which - this is the first place to get sunlight. We’re quite east, after all, and this is a mountain so the sun is visible before it is at the coast.

The walk is a rain forest. Actually there are two walks: a 20 minute short walk, or a 5hr summit walk with the hardest classification given by the Department Of Classifying Walk Difficulties In Australian National Parks. We do the 20 minute mostly-flat thing first. That it is largely enclosed by trees does not deter Harry from using the binoculars, and erroneously claiming that literally everything is close to her hands.

There are some big-ass trees around, amongst the slightly smaller-ass trees.

None of the wildlife we can hear are visible, which frustrates me. But it’s still a very cool place to walk around. Kevin’s run to the summit and down before, and a few people seem to be doing the same thing, but mostly there are lots of folk walking. It’s not a slow, long, winding ascent but lots of steps. Quite early on I become allergic to the forest – my eyes are streaming, I’m sneezing, my throat starts to constrict. No idea what’s doing it, but something bloody is.

Harry’s temporary tattoo from Saturday is STILL visible. Is it actually temporary?

It’s basically just trees.

Walking up, and up, and up, and up, several people are asked by the kids “have you done 5 hours?”. Yep, some of them have. We’re not even trying to get to the top, but there are no natural places to turn round – nothing’s flat, no clearings, etc. We pick a time-based turnaround point, at 1215. There’s a 1300 appointment nearby, as it goes. I’m really out of breath, not only due to terrain but also the allergy, and as we turn around I lie through my teeth to say the return journey is a race: first person to the bottom wins an ice cream. This has the desired effect of stopping Harry from claiming her legs don’t work.

Back in the car, our journey to nearby Murwillumbah is briefly halted courtesy of a kangaroo blocking the road.


The kids’ grandparents live in Murwillumbah and are expecting us all for lunch. It’s cottage pie and cake. There’s three people in the house - Mike & Maureen the grandparents, plus Mary, Maureen’s sister. I’ve met the first two before but never Mary. Conversation amongst the adults goes through a pretty wide range of topics, the most interesting being that Maureen and Mary’s dad played cricket with Don Bradman. That’s very cool!

After a couple of hours there we’re back in the car, heading to the Balter Brewery for a whole ton of takeaway beers en route to our accommodation for the next two days: more relatives of the kids on their mother’s side of the family tree. This is Nige and Jo and their three boys, who live in Palm Beach where we’d lunched the day before.

Jo is off work and welcomes us in. They have loads of outdoor space at their house, and we plonk onto the sofa and immediately make a pretty significant dent in the beers we’d bought. I also make the acquaintance of their 16 year old cat, Taylor. Taylor is very cute.

They also have a dog, a 9 month old puppy called Ricky. Cute and excitable, she wants to play with the cat who’s having none of it, responding with hisses and half-hearted swipes of the paw.

Jo’s friend Pip arrives with a bottle of champagne for those two, and conversation at some point turns to frequent flyer miles and business/first class travel and HELLO, I’m energised as hell, telling a bunch of anecdotes like “day trip to Macau”, “day trip to Johannesburg” and so forth. But come 7.30pm me, Kevin, and Nige are wanting to go inside and watch cricket.

Well, me and Kevin are. Nige, being Australian, is not too happy about the fantastic/dreadful start to the innings. Us Brits are very happy. But the beer has been flowing quickly, and we’ve had not much food - just a taco since we got there, though on this sofa me and Kevin get through a 1kg bar of dairy milk that isn’t even ours. Oops.

Seeing most of the Aussie innings, but falling asleep on the sofa at the tail end of it, the evening is at an end. Me, Kevin and the kids are staying in the caravan parked out back. I’ve been granted the proper double bed while the others take the triple-bunk beds... though Kevin, when I wake him up on the sofa, seems not too interested in moving from where he is. Ah well. I’m sure he’ll be fine in the morning.

Created By
Darren Foreman

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