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Brisbane and the Mighty Storm
Monday 21st February – Brisbane, Australia
So far for me Australia has been living up to its name. From beautiful beaches and chilled out people, to shark scares and jellyfish stings. I had witnessed the stormy weather in Newcastle, but nothing could have prepared me for today. I was in Brisbane, it was my first day, and I had set out on a mammoth walking tour of the city.
I used my Lonely Planet to work out a route as outlined in the book. There was a clear starting point, and a simple route to enable viewing of all the main sights and attractions. All I had to do was find the start point. This should have been the easy part – at least this is what I had thought – but instead I spent a good hour or so wandering about, getting lost, trying to find the road and the point at which the walking tour should commence. It wasn’t necessary to follow the route exactly, but I wanted to, so as to not miss anything out. It wasn’t for the book being wrong, neither was it a place that had moved since the book was printed. The start point was where it should be, but I am just hopeless at reading maps sometimes, and the biggest problem was identifying where I was at any given point. Nevertheless, I had commenced my tour of the city by foot, camera in hand, and covered head to toe in sunscreen for the glorious day it was.
I managed to follow the map to the point from here on in, and saw many sights around the city, including the architecture and the history. The Botanical Gardens marked the furthermost point away from the hostel, and the point at which the tour began to back track on itself. It seemed an obvious place to have a break and watch the world go by as I do so often. I began to notice a changing sky at this point, and the blackness of the clouds that appeared to be rolling in at pace. I had a horrible feeling I wouldn’t make it back to the hostel in time. In fact, not even if I had wings could I make it back in time. I needed to find shelter, and fast.
Shelter came in the form of a road bridge, in which the bridge was the shelter above my head, and the pathway underneath was my resting point to see the storm out. I waited and watched as the impending doom loomed large, and the thick, black sky engulfed all the light. Day turned to night and the flashes off in the distance from the lightning gave me a bad feeling this would not be a quick storm.
The rain began and became increasingly heavier by the minute. Soon the heavens opened and the rain fell like a torrent, cascading over the bridge above and down onto the pathway around me. Many people passed, most under the shelter of an umbrella, others in full wet weather gear. I stood out like a sore thumb in my T-shirt, shorts and flip flops (thongs). One guy kindly offered me a share of his umbrella, but he was headed in the opposite direction. I lost count of the amount of people who passed by saying, “It won’t get any better mate!” I began to agree with them.
Students from a nearby university passed me in numbers, most wearing a red poncho, as though they were giving them out somewhere. One very friendly girl stopped to speak with me, and we laughed about the weather. She explained that the university was in fact giving out the thin, plastic raincoats to students as they left. She picked up 2 and kindly offered me her spare, to which I accepted most gratefully. With this I was finally able to start the trek back to the hostel. I love how kind some people can be, and a gesture like this – no matter how small – really helped me out this day.
The long walk back to the hostel was accompanied by rain on and off, but nowhere near as heavy as it had been. The lightning continued all the rest of the day and into the night. It held off for just long enough for me to venture out in the evening for food, then lashed down again into the night. All I could do for the evening was to sit in the TV room in the Brisbane City Backpackers and watch a movie or two. There is a bar in this hostel, and it seems quite lively, but the seats were too comfy to leave the TV room this evening.
Written by Daniel Stevens,
Founder of Roundtheworldtrip.org.
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