7:00 AM: Two meals, two movies and surprisingly, a few hours of sleep later,
the sun starts shining through the windows and the coast of Australia slowly comes into view.
A smooth landing, quick exit from the plane, and then the long march to the Customs & Immigration
queue. Oh oh, looks like Oz is a popular destination today. At least two 747 loads of Asians
are in front of me, and as usual, only six of 28 immigration wickets are open. With barely an
hour until my flight to Brisbane, this could be trouble.
8:00 AM: 30 minutes and $500 later (duty and taxes on three suitcases full of
auto parts), I'm outside in the car park enjoying a quick smoke in the warm morning sunshine
before the 90 minute flight to Brisbane. We're almost there and I'm still feeling half alive.
That's a major contrast with previous trips that felt like never-ending bad dreams at times.
10:00 AM: Yes, we've made it. Darren's waiting at the arrivals gate and all we
have to do is wait for the luggage to emerge from the bowels of the airplane.... which must be
somewhat constipated today, as my bags are nearly the last ones to hit the carousel. In my haste
to get moving, I manage to nearly rip open one of the borrowed suitcases. But all the contents
are still inside, so there's no worries.
NOON: What are those spots on the windscreen, mate? "We call it rain, Bob. Don't
you have such stuff in Canada? Or does it only snow up there?" Bloody 'ell, I didn't travel 8000
miles to see more lousy weather. An hour later I've got my wish... and more, as the sun comes out
and the temperature starts climbing.... and climbing.... and climbing. By the time we get down
to Darren's place (for a quick pitstop for lunch), it's nearly 30 degrees (C) and is expected to
be even higher when we get down the coast to Ken Lowe's shop this arvo (afternoon).
3:00 PM: Enduring the constant roadwork on the motorway south from Brisbane back
in '99, I was more than pleasantly surprised to see it all finally finished, and a beautiful
eight-lane wide road all the way down to Ken's place. Dragging my now tiring butt in the door, I
was able to finally lighten the luggage load by dropping nearly 150 lbs. of parts on the nearest
workbench. When I walked into the center of the shop I was shocked to see the car up on trestles
and ready to work on. The crew were ready to start fitting parts on the car before I even finished
unpacking. We spent a few hours discussing the plan for the next few weeks and then the jet-lag
kicked in and I barely had enough energy left to say goodbye as Dave (Coles - my landlord) and I
made our way back to his townhouse in Gaven Heights.
9:00 PM: Flake (shark) and chips at the local takeaway was my first real meal
downunder this evening and as the telly droned away in the background I gradually drifted off into
my own personal dreamtime on the lounge chair. Dave was kind enough to shatter my slumber with a
"Hoy Mate!" and order me up the stairs to my freshly de-spidered bedroom. Even though the sun set
nearly three hours ago, the upstairs temperature was still nearly 40 degrees and the offer of a
blanket to keep out the cold was politely declined. Bags of ice would have been more welcome. And
what would it be like if I'd come down during the heart of the summer?
9:05 PM: zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz