Friday 6th January, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
Today was our last day in Australia, and Maria wanted to begin our day at her favourite place in Brisbane, the lagoon at Southbank Parklands. You might remember I wrote about Southbank in a previous journal update. Well, even a late night last night couldn't get in the way of Maria's plans for an early morning swim.
We met Terry at the lagoon at eight and lazed around in the cool water for an hour or so before heading out on one last tour of the city. First stop was the James Street Markets, a fantastic new development in Brisbane's inner suburb of Teneriffe. James Street Markets has sprung up since I left Australia, and is already renowned for selling only the best quality fruit and veges, and the best meat and seafood, complete with a sushi chef who makes to order, a florist, and a European-influenced bakery. As a fruiterer from way back, I give the place ten out of ten for quality, although $49 a kilo for eye fillet steak did have me gasping for breath!
We grabbed a few tasty items from a nearby bakery and dropped in to surprise Terry's friend Maureen at her work. Then Terry drove us across town to visit the fruit shop where I used to work, and with time running out, we stopped in to the famous Breakfast Creek Hotel for a beer.
The "Brekky Creek" is undoubtedly Brisbane's most well known pub, and there is a special story about the pub that I just know you're going to love...
"The Brekky Creek is famous for being one of the few pubs in Australia to still serve beer 'off the wood' or out of wooden casks rather than the more standard stainless steel kegs and piping system.
In the late 1970s, breweries were phasing out wooden kegs. Coopers (the craftsmen who made the barrels) were becoming hard to find and the wooden kegs did not fit in with the modern production patterns of the breweries. Most hotels transferred to the new dispensing system. However, this did not impress the many waterside workers who regularly drank at the Brekky Creek - and had done so for many years. They wanted to preserve the status quo. There was also some suggestion that beer was watered as a result of the steel kegs.
One of the wharfies, Lulla Wilson, demanded that the brewery continue to deliver beer to the hotel in wooden kegs, and he led a deputation of wharfies to their head office in Adelaide Street. A petition was organised amongst the pub's regulars, managing 300 signatures in a matter of days. Wilson was quoted as saying that the Breakfast Creek Hotel, and the placing of the keg on the bar, was part of Queensland's heritage. The then ACTU President, Bob Hawke, reputedly became involved, and raised the issue with Castlemaine Perkins’ Managing Director, Paddy Fitzgerald.
After some discussion, Paddy Fitzgerald agreed to the demands and kept supplying wooden kegs to the Brekky Creek. He even went to the hotel and ceremonially tapped the first keg after the standoff. A jubilant crowd of 36 waterside workers hoisted him on top of three ten-gallon wooden kegs to celebrate the occasion. Fitzgerald's popularity increased enormously that day - not only had he kept the wooden kegs but he shouted the bar all day long. The public bar was thereafter christened the Paddy Fitzgerald Bar and his portrait was installed on the wall."
-taken from the Breakfast Creek Hotel's website at www.breakfastcreekhotel.com
But our time in Australia had all but run out, and by the time we finished our one refreshing beer, there was just enough time for an equally refreshing dip in Eddie's pool before Terry had to see us to the airport.
Australia has been a blast! I think I can speak for Maria as well when I say this is one of the best holidays either of us have ever had. I'm not sure which one of us was sadder to be saying goodbye to this wonderful sunburnt country, and I'm not sure if I have ever enjoyed my home country as much as I have over the last five weeks. Somehow we managed to see and do almost everything we wanted to, even on the shoestring budget that we had. Thanks to Wendy for the renovating job that I did in Spain just before leaving; without the funds from that job, I would have barely had enough money for the return airfare. Thanks to Terry for the use of his car, thanks to Mum for all her help and for the delicious home cooking, to Phil and Noo for their culinary contributions and for storing all my junk at their place, and to all my family and friends -especially Eddie and Julie- for making us welcome and hosting us and helping us along the way. Thanks to all the sponsors who supported this stage of The Savage Files Project; without your generosity I'm not sure we would have had much to write about. And most of all, thanks to Maria for making this short period of time in my own country so special... even if she did refuse to iron my shirts for me!
Goodbye Australia!!! After nearly 5 weeks, it has all come to an end. And though I am very sad to leave, definitely sadder than Steve, I am extremely happy we made it. Australia was not in my list of “must visit” countries, but now that I have been here, there is even a slight possibility we may be moving “down under”. I will try to remember to ask for a visa next time.
Trying to think back and choose the highlight of the trip is being very difficult. I cannot think of a single thing that stands out among the rest. It has been amazing meeting so many wonderful people: family, friends, strangers… And of course, all those chatty people who made our time in pubs more enjoyable with their stories. That is, when we could understand what they were saying.
But it will definitely be good to be able to put a face to all those names Steve is always talking about: Mum, Terry, Phillip, Noo, Eddie, Julie, Cosmo, Jenny, Zombie, Linda, the Factory Guys, the Top Spot guys, Matt, Dave, the family in Gayndah and Munduberra, Auntie Betty, etc. Now it will be much easier to follow his million stories (though sometimes he doesn’t make much sense, haha). And thanks to my Rubio for all the things he knows ( I would run out of space if I had to write down each one of them). Whatever! Thanks a lot to everybody who took the time and made the effort to make us feel AT HOME at the other side of the world and contributed to the BEST HOLIDAY EVER!!!
SEE YOU ALL IN MADRID VERY SOON, MATES!!!!