Happy Paddys Day from Brisbane, hope ye are all sitting down to a nice cold pint of Guinness right about now…………
Love and Hugs
The Shorties xxx
Happy Paddys Day from Brisbane, hope ye are all sitting down to a nice cold pint of Guinness right about now…………
Love and Hugs
The Shorties xxx
We would like to ask all our followers to VOTE MYSTIC FORCE tonight on Sky 1’s Got To Dance @ 6pm! Mark is a good friend of Siobhán’s having completed his masters with her (probably to his detriment for the most part – sorry for being a slave driver Mark!!). The group is made up of a lovely bunch of people who all have a passion for Irish Dance and an ambition to succeed!
Reflective of their big hearts, the troupe have pledged to donate £50000 of the £250000 prize money to charity if they win! So come on guys, let’s get behind them!
Love and Hugs,
The Shorties xxx
Thanks to Niamh for sharing this little piece of magic with us now we just need to find an equally talented Achill filmmaker….
Love and Hugs
The Shorties xxx
Boy has it been a busy start to the new year for the Shorties!
We finally made it back to Brissy only to be faced with the worst floods in decades. Work was cancelled, supermarkets went into meltdown as people stocked up on groceries like the Apocalypse was on its way and everyone was housebound tentatively glued to their tv screens watching the 24 hour news coverage. Luckily our friends in Windsor adopted us so we weren’t alone in our time of need- there was no fear of our second floor apartment being flooded but it was very likely that power to that area would be cut so we headed for the hills! Now as we approach the end of January, week one of work is nearly finished for Anna in her new analyst job and Siobhan in her new super fancy PR role.
As Siobhan mentioned in the last blogpost we were temporarily separated for the New Year celebrations so Anna and Roisin have finally gotten themselves together to bring you the second half of the Shorties new years antics. So here goes……After four sunny days in Airlie Beach (pics will follow in later post) the rain clouds started to gather as we turned on the radio to hear the news of the devastating floods in Rockhampton. Rockhampton is a major town right smack bang on the Bruce Highway which is the main road leading down to Brisbane and linking all of the major towns along the East Coast.
Unfortunately Kate had to be back to work early on Tuesday morning so it was just Roisin and Anna that set out to find a road back to Brisbane on Sunday afternoon. When it came to the trip home we ventured on an unplanned journey through the Outback travelling a grand total of 2473km’s over four long/hot/sweaty/smelly/laughter filled/ noisy days (Anna and Roisin in one small car for four days do you need to even question the choice of adjectives!). We had no plan except to avoid Rockhampton at all costs as it was due to be completely closed off for at least ten days. We stopped off at far too many places to include all of them so here are just a few of the more memorable ones which have been prepared with the assistance of Roisin and her copybook full of notes.
Airlie Beach to Clermont “The Town that Moved”
We rocked up to Clermont only to discover that all the residents were…. DEAD!!!! Dum dum dum!!!! We suspected that they might have all died in the floods of 1916 (which is why it is known as the town that moved) but the unfriendly lady in the local motel informed us that Clermont was actually a mining town- as if that explained all the ghosts and the ridiculous price that she was charging to stay a night in her empty motel. It was at that point that we strolled down the road and discovered the idiosyncrasy of Australian Outback Hotels which are basically pubs with a few (rarely used) guest rooms randomly located upstairs for a price that our budget could afford.
The lady at reception informed us that the pub was built in 1864 and we suspected that she may have had a hand in building it…. she apologised as we went up the creaky stairs to the loo which looked like it hadn’t been used since the turn of the century and we don’t mean the millennium.
After figuring out the air con and re-wiring the TV, we cozied up in our beds and watched back to back episodes of CSI Miami which prompted Anna to seek a defence weapon in case the ghosts attacked in the middle of the night- in the end she had to make do with a can of mosquito spray- an obvious choice to repel potential murderers. Just as we were about to dose off, Roisin decided it would be a perfect time to revisit the prehistoric toilets so we wandered down the creaky hallway arm in arm fearing for our lives. Our fears were realized when out of the shadows stalked the creepy old man (ghost) who had served us dinner that evening- Roisin screamed and ran into the toilet leaving Anna in the pitch black room with the creepy man (ghost) who proceeded to wander round the perimeter of the dark room looking in every corner with a only a cigarette lighter to guide him, as if Anna wasn’t even there- then as Roisin emerged from the bathroom he drifted away into the darkness leaving us to wander back to our beds for a completely sleepless night.
On the never ending road into the Outback we traveled through some lovely countryside
And more countryside……
We got super excited when we saw mining stock piles
Karen (the satnav) had one of many freak attacks when she couldn’t find the road
Emerald to Springsure to Rolleston and Back Again
We arrived at Emerald at 8am to a scene of devastation. At this point in the Queensland flooding saga it had been one of the worst hit towns with acres of farmland and retail outlets completely destroyed. The road into town was totally impassible so a very kind local man offered to show us through the irrigation systems and farms on a back route which led into the town centre.
We had been in constant contact with Mike and Kate back at base to find out the best routes to bring us safely to Brisbane and Roisin was kept busy with her map, newspaper and copybook trying to calculate all the distances on the oz maps which never EVER come with a scale so really it is anybodies guess how far away anything is!
After our super early start we had to wait in Emerald until 9am to cross the bridge that led out of the town. If successful this route would put us on a “short cut” to Rolleston which would then lead us down to Roma and get us back to Brisbane within the day. Sorted!
Once we crossed the bridge we really began to see the damage that the floods had caused to the roads. Outside Springsure we got these pictures.
138km down the road – 1km away from our first landmark destination- we came to an impasse where the road was completely flooded as far as the eye could see (as per pic above) so we had to turn back and retrace our tracks to Emerald. On our way back in the little town of Springsure we stopped into the petrol station and Roisin was delighted when the owner showed us two little kangaroo joeys which had been rescued by passers by after their mothers had been killed on the road (kangaroos being knocked down by cars is quite a common occurrence in Australia- motorists are asked to stop and check marsupial pouches i.e. kangaroos and koalas to see if the joey is still alive in the mothers pouch and take it to the nearest vet).
After we had seen the kangaroos the very kind owners offered us the use of their shower to freshen up in and we gladly accepted delighted to feel fresh for a change!
Once we got back to Emerald we consulted Mike and Kate- our Brisbane based navigators, Roisin got out the maps and sourced some extra strong coffee as we realized that the only way to get around the floods was to take a 900km detour right into the heart of the Outback.
The funds were starting to run low but we decided that if we were to make the trip, music was essential (there is rarely any radio reception or phone signal in the Outback) so we used some of our dwindling savings to stock up our food supplies and purchased a four disc cd which is possibly one of the only reasons we managed to stay sane over the following few days! We now know all the words to Ice Ice Baby and Gangsta’s Paradise (provided 3 solid hours entertainment).
Barcaldine “The Town that was Rebuilt” to Blackall
After our debacle in Emerald we headed a further 309km west before we stopped in for the night at Barcaldine ( a relatively biggish town in Outback terms) we still had no phone reception so we set out to find a pay phone to call our navigators and let our families know we were still alive- tip: if you are planning a trip to the Outback buy a Telstra phone card because many pay-phones no longer accept cash payment they only take cards- absolute pain when you’re stuck in the middle of nowhere with no phone and somehow seems like false advertising surely the name should be self explanatory they are pay-phones after all not Telstra-Card-Phones….. so as you can probably tell from this little rant the mood at this stage of our trip was going down hill fast. We were tired and a little worse for wear so we consulted the Barcaldine Tree of Knowledge for advice.
We went for food at the local tavern before heading to find a motel for the night. The motel was the best yet (no dead people in sight) and we decided it was high time we had a sleep in and recharged our batteries a little bit before setting off on the longest emptiest stretch of our journey.
This time we decided to do the responsible thing and drop into the local police station before we hit the road just to make sure the roads were clear. We met some small little children on bikes (The Angel Children as we like to call them) who directed us to the cutest police station you ever did see -unfortunately it was still closed for the holidays- we must have looked pretty pitiful at this stage because when we dropped into the government office next door there was an amazing man (or God-man as we like to call him) at the desk who looked up all the information we needed and even called the Roma
Police to see if these two Irish lasses would ever make it through to Brisbane and amazingly the answer was YES- best news we had in days!
After breakfast in the local petrol station we set of refreshed and with a newspaper full of trivia to keep us entertained on the 595km drive to Roma. It was day three of our adventure and we were moving onto the barrenest stretch of road we had experienced with very few towns and no prospect of phone reception until we reached our destination.
Blackall to Roma
When we arrived at the next big town- Blackall- we were glad of the break.
We felt a little at home out there in those isolated towns. Everyone was up for a bit of banter when we stopped in and every passing car gave us a wave. By the time we reached Roma we were like two feral people as we starred in amazement at the first traffic lights we had seen in days.
The end was in sight with only 475km to Brisbane so we dropped into a local motel where we were once again informed that motels in the Outback don’t come in our price range (seeing a pattern here) but they recommended a hostel in the town centre called Irish McGann’s which was perfectly located over the local Irish bar.
As soon as we walked in the door we were all go, like two gerbils let out of a cage. There was a lovely crowd of Roma Police Officers and Firemen perched up at the bar so we zoned in on them and told them all the tales of our travels, talking a mile a minute delighted to finally have an audience.
The poor lads didn’t know what had hit them being faced with two delirious Irish women- if we weren’t talking we were singing and if we weren’t singing we were laughing and if we weren’t laughing we were crying!!! And then when Stevie (the fireman) pulled up his car out front with his two dogs dangling out the back window he didn’t know what he had unleashed when Roisin bounded out to play with them!
By the time the bar was closing up we decided it was time for bed so we crawled upstairs to our bunks but not before a quick call to Louise (our phones finally picked up reception again) although it was a bit late in the day she gave Roisin some valuable tips on how to deal with Anna’s tantrums before the two of us passed out for our final sleep of the journey.
Roma to Brisbane
We’re nearly there now folks but typical of us we had to finish up with a
bang….. our destination was so close that Mike was already getting the teapot ready. We were running on the last of our adrenaline and our heads were a little achy after the night before but we were so close. We had left the Outback now and were driving back into the flood zone. As we passed through Chinchilla Roisin pulled down her window to take a few pics of the damage left by the receding flood waters.
Unfortunately when Roisin went to pull her window up again it made a sad little crashing noise and refused to budge. So as we approached Toowoomba (another badly effected town) we decided it was a good time to pull into MacDonalds and take stock of the situation. However as we exited the drive-thru and Anna tried to pull up her window it made the same sad little crashing noise and before we knew it both windows were broken and we were once again on the phone to Mike sobbing down the line (ok maybe sobbing is the wrong word more like gentle yelling crossed with a crazy tantrum).
Once we had our fill of burgers and we had calmed down a bit we set of again with our natural aircon blowing the heads off us straight onto the first bit of motorway we had seen in days. We don’t know why they use the expression the luck of the Irish because at that point our luck broke for about the 100th
time as the thunder started and the rain came pouring in the windows, we had been driving for 4 days through 40′ heat and that was the minute Mother Nature decided to let rip, four hours outside of Brisbane. We got some funny looks off passing cars and at one point the downpour got so heavy that we had to pull in for fear of being washed off the road. But eventually we made it back to Windsor and the Shorties were finally reunited.
This has been an especially long post so if you have managed to make it all the way to the end go make yourself a cup of tea and thank your lucky stars that somebody has warned you NOT to ever even dream of driving from one end of Queensland to the other in the broadest ranging devastating flooding the province has ever seen because sometimes its just easier to do what everyone else says and get on a plane!
Thank you to all the people of Queensland who we met along the way who were so generous even when they had lost everything they still helped the two lost little Irish girls.
Love and Hugs
The Shorties & Roisin xxx
Happy new year guys!
Sadly our time up north has come to an end and we are back to the realities of the working world. However, a new chapter is being opened, as Shorties Down Under unleash their masterful expertise in new areas of work. Anna is starting a new position as an analyst in a hospitality consulting firm called DWS. Siobhan, while still remaining loyal to her bus stops, is taking on a part time role with a public relations company. Exciting news all round!
You have already seen pictures from our Christmas eve/day/boxing day antics. In the days following the festive season, the Shorties parted ways on a temporary basis (all good relationships need a break now and then, right???). While Anna set off to Airlie beach for new year, I set off to Cairns with Uncle Brian & Margaret (who have both become somewhat of surrogate parents to me – thanks guys…love ye!).
On the Thursday before new years, Brian introduced me to a place which I can only describe as pure paradise. This paradise is called Five Mile Creek – a popular swimming hole located between Cardwell and Ingham. The water from the creek originates high up in the mountains. Sparkling in the summer sun, the water was crystal clear as well as pleasantly warm. It is a secluded spot surrounded by trees. I would highly recommend it for a dip. To get the most out of it, it may be a good idea to bring some inflatable rings so maximum relaxation can be achieved as the soft current carries you down the river.
My real adventure began on new years eve. I was awoken from my dreamy slumber by an intense itch. Upon further investigation, I was truely horrified! I had been literally eaten by 15 mosquitoes. My legs looked deformed (as well as incredibly unattractive). Like all strong warriors, however, I battled on (of course there were a few winges and moans along the way!). We set off early for Cairns. I slept soundly for the duration of the 3.5 hour drive (aside from a short pit stop in McDonalds for coffee and a road side banana stand for, well, bananas). Upon arrival at my cousin Margies house in Cairns, plans were set in place. It was not long before we were on the road again, destined for Port Douglas. Port Douglas is a “chic” little town located north of Cairns (about a 45 minute drive). The drive itself was breathtaking, with the majority of it being a coastal treat. Once there, my celebrity radar was turned on. Port Douglas has been long known as a celebrity hub, with many stars escaping to it’s tranquil and secluded surroundings. I was disappointed, as my celebrity-hunting endeavours bore no fruit :( On the bright side, I enjoyed a wonderful lunch of calamari with Brian and Margaret. We also visited a lookout point which was a window to unspoiled beach below us. A map at the lookout point informed me that I was approximately 16oo0km from home. Before we left, we visited the beach, had a little paddle and took advantage of countless “Kodak moments” which surrounded us on every side. And of course, we had a beer before we hit the road.
Upon our return to Cairns, we had a quick dip in Margies pool, before prettying ourselves up for a dinnerparty we had been invited to by friends of Brian and Margaret. The dinner party was enjoyable (thanks Sarah, Aunty Sandy & Uncle Frank!). We enjoyed a refreshing glass of champagne, prawns, an expertly cooked BBQ (coupled with homemade bread & salads), and a desert of rocky road, cherry slices and flan. Nom Nom Nom. While the men had a couple of games of cards, the ladies settled down in front of the TV to watch The Edinbrugh Military Tattoo. Shamefully (it has to be said), Margie and I were the first to bail and were at home in bed, and fast asleep well before midnight. So I can safely say, I rang in the new year quite dreamily! Ooooops!
New years day was a write-off. I slept for most of it! Backpacking is difficult you know!! And those Mozzie bites really put a damper on things!
Sunday, however, really made up for the inactivity of New Years Day. Feeling a lot better, we headed off to the Skyrail. The Skyrail Rainforest Cableway is located at Caravocia Lakes in Cairns and it has been described as the worlds most beautiful rainforest experience. It is made up of 7.5km of cableway and brings you (in a gondola cabin) to Kuranda. The journey takes about 1.5 hours (one way) and carries you above the rainforest canopy. A detailed guide helps with the identification of the different flora and fauna which can be seen throughout each leg of the trip. There are two stations on the journey, where you have the opportunity of hopping of and exploring some of the rainforest at ground level. There is the option of having a guided tour, or else you can explore on yourself at your own pace – which is what we did. Even though the first station (Red Peak Station), was impressive, the second station (Barron Falls Station), provided me with memories that I will never forget. There were numerous locations from which to watch the Barron Falls roar angrily down the side of mountains. The staff said we were lucky to see it on that particular day, as the views recently had not been as clear due to the volume of rain which has fallen in the last two weeks in North Queensland. Overall, the Skyrail was absolutely amazing, and it does not surprise me that it won the 2010 Queensland Tourism Award. A definite must-do for anyone lucky enough to be in Cairns. While there is an option of taking the Kuranda Scenic Rail back to Cairns (which is also world famous and is supposed to be equally as breathtaking as the Skyrail), we decided to explore Kuranda Village. Kuranda Village itself is, as Uncle Brian called it, “a little bit alternative.” It is home to Heritage Markets which operate 7 days a week,. They are an absolute haven for colourful and interesting (see photo below – Kangaroo Scrotums) arts and crafts. Before leaving Kuranda, Margie treated us to a tasty lunch. From there, we headed towards the city once again.
There were a few pitstops along the way as we stopped to appreciate the unspoiled beauty of the land around us – as well as a magnificent looking wild peacock. Eventually we approached the Esplanade, where we considered going for a dip in the lagoon but thought the better of it once the rain reappeared. We settled for ice-cream at Baskin Robins. Yummy!
Back in Margies, we settled down for a snooze, as well as an unfathomable number of Sex & The City episodes. After another quick dip in the pool, we ordered Noodle Box and settled into Strictly Ballroom and The Devils Own on the box before retiring to bed at a reasonable hour (not before intoxicating my room, bed and self with toxic amounts of Aeroguard and covering my legs inch-thick in soothing cammomile lotion).
On Monday we set off for Ingham once again. We stopped for more bananas in Inisfail, and in Cardwell for a delicious beef pie, and again in Hawkins Creek at the roadside pineapple stand. We considered a quick swim at Five Mile Creek, but the thought of it put shivers down my spine – at 28 degrees I deemed it too cold!
The weekend marked a lovely ending to my first Aussie Christmas – I will never forget it.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Brian for being a wonderful photographer and diligent uncle throughout my holiday – I only wish I could take you on the rest of my adventures (and pack you away in my bag when you were in abusive mode); Margaret for having the patience of a saint, as well as cooking a yummy breakfast each day; and Margie for being happy to be lazy with me in front of the box. And to all the Scanlons – send the bill to my dad! ;)
Well there goes another festive season….
Happy new year to ye all – athbhliain faoi mhaise daoibh go léir,
Love & Hugs,
The Shorties xxx
We hope that you have not missed us and our tales over the last couple of weeks! We did warn you that we were taking our Christmas holidays though! Throughout our vacation we have taken the opportunity to seize every little bit of “blog material” possible (see, how thoughtful are we guys? We are always thinking about you!).
So where exactly have the Shorties been for Christmas, you may ask? Well we have ventured further than we have ever gone before…North Queensland to a little sleepy town called Ingham. Ingham is situated over 1400km north of Brisbane (about 1.5 hours flying to Townsville, with an added 1.5 hour drive). The town is known as “Little Italy”, due to approximately half of it’s population being of Italian descent. Italians first arrived in Ingham in the late 1800’s. Ingham is renowned for it’s sugar cane farming which seems to be grown on every visible acre of land that we have journeyed through!! Victoria sugar mill, the largest sugar mill in Australia and one of the largest in the southern hemisphere is located close to the town. Much of the cane is transported to the mills by light tramlines.
Although we nearly didn’t make it due to the floods we have had a magical Christmas with Uncle Brian, Margaret, Margaret-Louise, Kim and Robyn. We will update you on all the stories in more detail as soon as we get back to Brissie but for now here are our snaps of Christmas week in Ingham to keep you entertained.
Christmas Day in Ingham
Boxing Day and the 6 Hour Jenga Marathon
Townsville- Billabong Sanctuary & Reef HQ Aquarium
We would like to thank everyone in Ingham for making this a very memorable Christmas and send our love to everyone at home who we are missing at this time of year.
We will be updatting you in more detail about all our antics in the New Year so enjoy the rest of the festivities.
Love, Hugs and the Merrriest of Christmases
The Shorties xxx
Hello there peeps! Sorry we have been slack with the blog update…in fairness though, that can mean only one thing! We have been busy engaging in activities so we can bring you more entertainment through this wonderful medium of communication. Ah no really though, we have been quite busy. One of the things that stands out over the two weeks or so is the Gay Marriage Rights rally which was on Saturday 20th of November. After a rough night on the town, the shorties were up at the crack of dawn (11am!) with great intentions of making a banner for the rally.
It didn’t happen. Instead, we sat out on our uber cool balcony reminiscing (and trying to remember) about the nights peculiar happenings. Enough on that, before we get ourselves into trouble! At 12.45, we departed our upmarket Ann Street apartment, and headed towards the treasury casino with Roisin. We were greeted with a sea of gays, lesbians, transgenders and other wonderful varieties of human beings. The shorties were a minority. It was refreshing to see so many people comfortable in their own skin, and empowering for us to be able to support them in their quest to gain equal rights. After a number of speakers, countless chants and numorous rounds of applause, three couples took to the stage to partake in an illegal gay marriage ceremony. It was so emotional……..! Soon it was time to hit the streets of Brisbane.
About 500 people (including the Shorties) marched around the streets of Brisbane voicing such chants as “What do we want?? GAY MARRIAGE! When do we want it?? NOW!”
Even though the shorties are straight, we were accepted by everyone around us and given banners to carry.
We ended up being two of the loudest chanters in the march! Upon return to the grounds of the casino, we mingled with everyone and watched while Roisin tried to pimp herself out to a beautiful woman.
She also signed a big banner which was part of the It Gets Better campaign.
The aim of the campaign is to provide support to LGBT youths who are at a difficult point in their lives so they can be inspired to hope for a better future because it REALLY DOES GET BETTER . It is a vibrant campaign, and as can be seen in the photo, the banner reflects this. Check out their facebook page & get involved with this great movement It Gets Better.
We will be attending another rally in March to help fight for equal rights so if you would like to join us keep up to date at Equal Love . And this time the banner will be made! It was a real eye opener to see how frustrated the LGBT
community are about not having the same rights as straight people. It is legal favoritism to allow certain members of our society to marry the person they choose while others are marginalized and told they cannot marry their loved ones.
Civil partnership has become the new buzz phrase with many people supporting it as a step in the right direction but how far have we really come when this is just a form of second class marriage. Like seriously, how romantic is it to get down on one knee and ask your loved one “will you civil partner me???!!!”
People can’t help who they love, and they should not have to be penalized for it. Love is an uncontrollable feeling, an emotion and a desire. Should some people be punished and deprived because of these uncontrollable feelings? A final but crucial point is that this attitude not only marginalizes the LGBT community it also discriminates against children raised in a gay relationship and leaves them in a very vulnerable position if anything happens to one of the partners.
We would like to invite you guys to take part in our poll (See right) and share your views on gay marriage by leaving a comment. Also, if any of you are active members on LGBT forums, feel free to post a link to our blog. We would like to take this opportunity to thank Roisin, Dena and Carly without you ladies we might never have understood or been inspired to understand this struggle for equal rights.
That’s all for now! We will have one or two more updates for you guys before Christmas. The Shorties will then be packing their bags and heading north to Ingham for the festive season.
Love and Hugs,
The Shorties xxx