Wipe Out

They make it look so natural. Like it’s effortless to paddle yourself into a wave at the precise moment it begins to pick up momentum; then use all of your upper body muscles to stand, whilst balancing yourself and shifting your weight to the right proportions. Include a few sharp turns, 360 degree twirls and a flip in the air to top it all off before riding face first onto the shore to greet thousands of spectators applauding you and taking your photo.

The anticipation of who would be the 2012 Quiksilver Pro champion had been circulating in conversations on the Gold Coast for weeks. Kelly Slater, 11 time world champion, and at the ripe age of 40, was sensed to be the central cause of this. I read in Tracks, the official ASP (Association of Surf Professionals) tour guide that being able to say you’ve witnessed Kelly Slater surf is on the same par with saying you saw Ali fight. I’m unsure if this actually does carry that level of weight, however, I can at least say I saw it. Guess what though, he lost!

Today was the last day of the Quiksilver Pro, stop one of the ASP World Tour, held at Snapper Rocks on the Gold Coast. The past two weeks have been leading up to this day, with competitions going on between men, women (Roxy Pro) and grommets (children). The unfortunate weather of yesterday had everyone wondering if the semi-finals and finals would get pushed back, but thankfully this afternoon was full of blissful sunshine and surf.

Up until this morning the broadcasters would pepper Slater’s name into commentary, increasing the suspense amongst the crowd of when he would finally show. Loyal to their national surfers were the Aussies for big names like Taj Burrow, Joel Parkinson and Owen Wright along with Brazilians supporting Gabriel Medina and Adriano de Souza. Regardless of background though, no one would deny USA born Slater.


During the Pro the usually quiet beach town of Coolangatta becomes the hot ticket. Pop up stores line the beach along Snapper Rocks to include Quiksilver and Roxy merch, food stalls sell healthy snacks, and marketing sponsorships are evident in every crevice. During the evening those working behind the scenes come out to play at trendy nightspots like Komune and Neverland.

Another reason Coolly becomes a hot ticket? Because literally everyone is so damn hot! Beautiful, blond, and toned. Holy mother. Yeah, so when my feet were sinking into the sand and I wanted to rest I had plenty to rest my eyes on. Apparently surfing isn’t as effortless as I suspected. Whew.

I still refuse to go in the water past my knees, so my days of actually attempting to surf are limited. But, I would like to enviously congratulate Taj Burrow who just this afternoon received a check for $75,000 as the winner of the Quiksilver Pro.  Taj has never won a world title, however, this could be his year.


I’m only happy when it rains

Oh, the rain! Rain rain rain. It’s almost painful without being touched. For the past handful of nights I lay with my window open, falling asleep to the mad rush of rain pellets against the roof, the windows, the pavement, slashing against the trees, car tires screeching, sirens blaring, running water rising higher in the corners of the streets; it’s almost a constant whipping sound. I just think to myself, dear god, not the floods.

I arrived back from the US a mere two weeks ago and immediately the cabbie was reminding me that it is officially one year since “the floods” as it is most commonly referred to.

I can tell you exactly what I was doing this time last year as the water peaked at 14.6 feet in Brisbane city. I was sitting in another city who just years before fought a very similar devastating battle, New Orleans. In between po boy sandwiches and late night shenanigans on Bourbon Street, mixed amongst all day work meetings of course, it was confirmed that I would be moving to Brisbane pending visa approval. Sold on a city that was under water.

And so I’ve returned from a 3 week work/holiday stint in New York ready to take on summer full swing, but I’m met with the damn road block of constant rain! I’ll give it to you straight.

Big Day Out

Big Day Out is a multi-city all day festival. It has a reputation of being for those youngins because it’s a 15+ show, however when I saw the lineup I said myself, of all the new music I’ve exposed myself to the 7 months I’ve been here, how can I deny myself a hard core rage to My Chemical Romance and a nostalgic sing along with long time idol Noel Gallagher? Cleary impossible. So I paid the $175 to go.

I arranged for my Sunday best. I braided my hair the evening before to result in perfect crimps, I removed the packing from my shinny new fanny pack (which have I mentioned has a whole different conotation here?), and I pulled up my socks to the knees and stepped into my gum boots (uhum rain boots). I then knocked on new roomie Kelvin’s door, a manager at a top of the line fashion distributor, to get confirmation that my attire was suiting. What I received in response was a huge laugh. I defended myself stating, perhaps you don’t know I dress for comfort and convenience, over style. So off I went.

I arrived at Roma Street bus station, where I pre-purchased a round trip bus fair to save myself or others the inconvenience of organizing transportation, amongst the plethora of 16 years olds attending the show. I caught my reflection in the mirror and thought two things, holy shnikes my outfit does not look good in one bit, and secondly, am I getting a rush of being too old for this? Shnikes is right! Luckily the bus ride was calm and quiet.

I arrived a good 1.5 hours before my friends so opted for some lunch, a decent scope of the arena, and a first up jam out to the Medics, an unique Aussie indigenous band who’s bassist rocks out like no one I’ve ever seen, seriously! After a quick stop off at Calling All Cars and the Cairo’s my friends have finally arrived and we tango’d with some heavy metal sooo not my speed before I removed my gum boots to relax to California natives Best Coast.

Jacqui and I at BDO

I secretly (I think I just changed the secrecy aspect of it all)  just went to the show for two reasons, amongst some other decent acts I wouldn’t mind having on my score card (Foster the People, Kasabian, Kimbra, Architecture & Helsinki and more), but ideally, it was a hard core rock out to My Chemical Romance and a nod and shake to Noel Gallagher and the High Flying Birds. But holy what, MCR was a disappointment! I’ve seen their shows in London, New York and Philadelphia and they are always a literal pee-in-your-pants raging good time. But on the Gold Coast this energy was low and sound quality bad. I thought it was just them but as I danced my way to Kasabian it was the same, nooooo way, this crowd should be rocking out to this way harder despite the downpour, but no avail.

So when my friends waited in the pouring down rain for Kayne West I walked away to see Noel G, shuffled myself to the second row from the stage and it all came rushing back. I was 13 again belting out Oasis B-sides, known classics, and the good stuff from his new album. Here he was, Noel Gallagher mere meters (whatever that is in feet) from my face. And after all the rain (yes, my gum boots finally came in handy), and after all the running from stage to stage, this was it, just me, myself and I, raging out to Noel Gallagher, my teen idol, and taking the bus back to Brissy with a huge yawn and smile on my face. Yeah, yeah. It may never go away.

Noel Gallagher

Hey! Mr. Tamborine Man

Apparently snakes don’t give warning before they attack! I know, weird right? I’ll make it clear up front that I have not been bitten by a snake however, I have been intrigued after having a discussion on the top of Mount Tamborine, whilst  overlooking the valley, of people who have been bitten on the ankle by a snake, and only realize such after returning home from their walk. I would assume there would have been some fair warning. Apparently because of all the flooding last year the snakes are coming out to play!

Cheers! We're on our way

Mt. Tamborine is a boutique wine region on an eight kilometer ridge of a mountain chain along the Gold Coast. Since my friend Nidya was celebrating a birthday we rented a limo and headed to the southern hinterlands – up the mountain for some schnapps, wine, beer and cheese tasting to celebrate! I relived what felt like prom, posing for photos out front of the limo before our friendly driver Brian ushered us on our way.

Mt. Tamborine Distillery, so cute!

First stop was Mt. Tamborine Distillery. A cute little property tucked back behind black iron gates, the distillery sits amongst gingerbread house style buildings with large black and white spades plastered over the exterior. Vintage gardening tools rest against oak barrels as the fountain trickles calmly in the background. We were greeted instantaneously by the colorful owner Michael and his wife with a rendition of happy birthday played on accordion.

Michael from Mt. Tamborine Distillery wrapping some lemoncello

Michael looks a bit like Father Christmas only in his Hawaiian style shirt it all seemed out of place. The eclectic charm of the distillery was a good choice for this first stop as the variety of schnapps in hand painted colorful glass, from wattle toffee to Turkish delight to musk and lemocello (a favorite amongst the group), had given everyone a head start with their buzz so early in the morning. I’m thinking that the champagne we had up the mountain didn’t help either.

I’d recommend a stop here for anyone traveling in the region – polite, unconventional, and fun. The handmade eastern European knickknacks around the shop were enjoyable to browse through and we all left with a little something – whether it is a bottle of schnapps or hand-woven wool hats. But before we got too comfortable it was time to move on.

The vineyard at Witches Falls

Witches Falls Winery is one of the most favored in the region. In addition to light and fruity syrahs and sauvignon blancs with hints of capsicum (pepper) and oak they also specialize in batches of wild fermented yeast varieties. A big risk for wine makers because the outcome is so unpredictable however the viognier was one that I couldn’t refuse to take back with me.

Gallery Walk

Back in town is what is known as Gallery Walk. It’s the closest thing to “downtown” as it gets up in this mountain community, with a strip of art galleries, fudge shops, local craft merchants and handmade goodies all around. Tucked at the top of the street sits Mount Tamborine Brewery. With the small craft brewery on site, this cute stop off is a great place to get lunch, use the toilet (as many of the wineries don’t allow customers to use the restrooms unless there is a restaurant on site – weird!), and sample some of their delicious brews. $10 gets a sampler of 4 beers that the knowledgeable staff helps mix and match based on your preferences for taste. I chose the darker variety which had an awesome Belgian dubbel, black forest German dark beer, a mild lager and strong wheat. Also here is the cheese factory where they make delicious cheese on the premises and may have judged us a little bit for wanting a taste of nearly everything! I have a garlic goat cheese waiting for me to dip into that I’m having hard time not gobbling down instantaneously.

Flight of beers at Mt. Tamborine Brewery

Cheeeeeese Factory

All the champagne, schnapps, wine and beer started getting to our heads so we traveled farther down Gallery Walk to the Mt. Tamborine Winery to
have lunch on large picnic tables outside. The food was a bit disappointing as was the fact there was no actual vineyard. We nibbled on small baguettes, salads and lamb shanks. I find it interesting that lamb shanks in N. America can be quite expensive and only served at certain restaurants where it is a dish that I’m told many Australians have grown up with and I’ve spotted it on menus quite frequently. So, because we were running a bit tight on time we opted to skip the tasting and find a view so we could enjoy the scrumptious looking rocky road cupcakes made by Sharni.

The top of the world at Mt. Tamborine

Brian drove us to a lookout point on the side of the mountain where hang gliders often leap from. As the wind blew my hat off of my head and we watched it tumble down the mountain Jacqui caught it in time just before it leaped over the same edge the hang gliders often do. I asked her not to risk if for a $9.99 hat but luckily she was fast! So there we sat, quietly and calmly eating our cupcakes while taking in the breathtaking view and winding down from a very long day which unpredictably was going to be a lot longer. This is where we talked about the damn snakes that don’t give warning.  I also asked Brian if this was a popular make out point however I don’t think he heard me because I never got a response.

We turned into the side streets of Paddington, back in Brisbane, bladders nearly busting and contemplated where to take the night. Naps before dinner or shine right through. I think the answer is obvious.

Vietamese at Kim Lan post winery tour

Those with other evening obligations traded spots with some of the guys since they didn’t join on the wine tour and there was no better spot to dine then KimLan in Chinatown. I watched Nidya eat a fried Quail whole – literally, whiling singing the tune “bones bones bones bones bones” as I couldn’t believe it is okay to eat friend bird bones, spine and all. But, I’ll let you judge her for that.  Happy Birthday Nidya!

Happy Birthday Nidya!