Saturday and Sunday, 21st & 22nd April 2018
“The rain will not be particularly heavy, but it will be a nuisance.”
Said the Radio 4 weather forecaster, and she was right! The rain was definitely doing all it could to be a nuisance. Sitting in our kitchen back in Derby I watched the raindrops chase each other down the patio doors as I thought back to last weekend, our last few days in Brisbane.
The forecast hadn’t been good last week either, but here was another difference between Australia and the UK. The Brisbane forecast last weekend said there might be showers. If you remember we returned early from our exploration of the hill country inland from the Sunshine Coast because of the predicted heavy rain. The rain didn’t happen on Friday and it didn’t happen on Saturday or Sunday either. Instead it was a very pleasant 25°, by the time we emerged blinking into the new day on Saturday morning after our exciting night at the Broncos and joined five of Ant and Kate’s friends for breakfast at the Corner Café, I was already seeking the shade. These guys are all coming over for the wedding, so it was a good chance to meet them and learn their names. I would tell you who they were, but I can’t remember!
After breakfast and the admiration of the boys’ home built, fixed-wheel bikes, we moved on to the Rocks for the marvellous views of the Brisbane CBD and were joined by some big lizards looking for elevenses.
Now we were suitably refreshed we were ready for some serious mooching about, so we spent an hour or so on the South Bank scrutinising the tat on sale at the weekend market. We had just enough time to drop Ant’s armfuls of purchases off at home before we had to drive an hour north to Caboolture to support the awesome Toowong FC who were looking for back to back victories.
This was a big match. Caboolture Sports Club is the social centre of the town (if you have ever been you will know why!) and they had been looking forward to the visit of the team from the big smoke all week. They had released a pod cast, revealing that they were expecting a ‘physical game’ and they had a sound system set up on the side-line ready to celebrate their expected goal fest. By the time we arrived, bedecked in the green and yellow of Toowong, it was standing room only. It seemed the whole town had turned out in the menacing black of the home side. Apart from some of the Toowong reserves we were the only away supporters, but we found a bit of space, unfurled our banners and shook our rattles with a vengeance. The team responded to our rallying calls and stood firm in the face of wave after wave of Caboolture pressure before they attacked on a break and scored a scrambled goal. Toowong were ahead going in at half time. The second half was fast and furious. Our hero was again magnificent in defence and impressed the referee again so that he wrote Ant’s name on his little yellow card. Toowong’s strategy of punting high balls into space to disorientate the opposition seemed to be working until Caboolture fluked a goal. Then disaster happened – Toowong’s talisman was the victim of a vicious, cynical tackle and was carried off with a nasty injury, at least a multiple compound fracture. Without Ant’s presence, Toowong were a shadow of their former selves, but they managed to hold it together for the last quarter of an hour and when the whistle blew it was an honourable draw.
Thanks to Ant’s bravery and plenty of ice compresses we were able to get him back home so that Katy’s tender ministrations could work their magic.
Super heroes are made of strong stuff, and by Sunday morning Ant was well on the way to a full recovery (I think he must have set the bone himself?) and he had a full day planned for our last Sunday in the land of the green and gold.
We visited a local wildlife reserve at Enoggera Creek. We managed to avoid the local triathlon team training and took a hike around the lake to build an appetite for lunch. What a treat Katy and Ant had instore for us. We drove across the city to the riverside on the east side of Brisbane to Eat Street. This was a marvellous place built out of shipping containers that housed a wide range of street food, bars, shops and entertainment. We ate in the main seating area in front of the stage and listened to three very different, but high quality, bands play their fifteen-minute sets. I could eat here every week!
Just when I thought the weekend couldn’t get any better, Ant played his trump card. He had been moved by my disappointment at not being able to visit the Gabba and done a bit of research. In the off season, when it is not used for cricket, the Gabba is the home to the Brisbane Lions, Australian Rules Football team and as luck would have it they were playing local rivals, the Gold Coast Suns that evening. We booked a couple of tickets and jumped in a taxi. On the way Ant gave me a quick introduction to the arcane rules of the antipodean sport and I was good to go.
It was fascinating. There is no other team sport like it; two teams of 18 playing on a cricket oval with four goal posts at each end. It was fast, tough and gripping. The game is played over four quarters of 20 minutes, with time added on for stoppages. Our match lasted over two hours and time flew, we spent the last quarter on the edge of our street as the Lions tried to mount a comeback.
What a weekend!