Surfers Paradise: Dracula and other Fun Stuff
October 27, 1998
Birds, Woolies and Other Strange Creatures
Got up fairly early the next morning to join the group doing the Downhill
Downunder mountain biking: we were going into the tropical rainforest in the mountains outside Surfers Paradise. Fortunately,
the majority of it was downhill, and they bused up to the top before we started, so that
worked out well.
Before the biking, the day began with a hike into the rainforest.
This was *really* cool: the forest was beautiful, and full of all sorts of streams and waterfalls. There were also several huge skinks
roaming about sunning themselves. Some of their little informational signs were a
bit out-of-date, though: one spot had a plaque describing the type of tree to be seen in
front of it, but there was no tree there! It had fallen over a few years back and
no-one had got around to replacing it yet...
The hike took us down to this beautiful waterfall that we could walk underneath and just watch the water splash down: lots
of pictures got taken there! There were also some signs
with translations of aboriginal terms to English: the aborigines had been using the
area for thousands of years. This would be made very apparent later in the
After the hike, we drove to another area to have a look at some of the
local birds. There is a woman who lives there and sets out food for the locals, and
can get quite a variety of different bird species coming in for a quick lunch.
Strangely enough, what a lot of them like was jelly!
There were some very colorful parrots there, and some strange birds with large yellow
markings around their eyes.
Also there was a statue of a
"Woolie", the Australian version of the Sasquatch (Bigfoot). Our
guides told stories of how people had claimed to see the "Woolie" here and
there. Never did say if they believed in it, though! They also showed us how
to crack a whip (possibly for protection against the Woolie). After a few tries and
a snap across the back of my neck, I let someone else give it a go.
After the birds, we went to a picnic area to set up for lunch. There
was a short hike there as well, for those who wanted to have another look: from the
outcrop at the bottom of the trail, you could see all of Surfers
Paradise in the distance: pretty cool! Even more amazing was the large rock that was pointed out to us: it had several
grooves in it of different sizes. Apparently the aborigines had been using it to
sharpen their spears by grinding the tips in one hole, then moving to the next smallest
hole, then the next, etc. There were a couple of shallower depressions in it that
turned out to be KNEE PADS, the rock had been used for so long!
After the hike, we had our first real Australian barbie: lunch of steak,
sausages, salad and salsa. Great stuff! There were some feral chickens around
that looked as if they could steal some food from us: the rooster must have been a foot
and a half tall!
Time to Bike It!
After lunch, we broke out the bikes and rode down the hills. There
were a few places where it was uphill (hey!) and it was tough concentrating being on the
LEFT side of the road (Australia is the same as the UK in that respect) but other than
that it was great! There was one place we were riding down, where you could suddenly
FEEL a temperature gradient change as we descended: a strange feeling! But we all
made it down, and no one got plastered to the side of a truck, so it turned out to be a
great day! They also had some fantastic cookies waiting for us at the bottom.
It was over too quickly!
I Vant to Suck Your Bluuuudd....
Before dinner, we had a few hours at the Jupiter Casino, where we could
relax and lose money. There was an interesting Australian game going on called
"Two-up", which involves throwing two coins in the air and betting on how they
will come down. Apparently you bet on either heads or tails: if both come up, you
win or lose: if you get one of each, bets carry over to the next round. Sounds too
complex for me...
That evening for dinner, we went to a place called "Draculas", which was a *really* weird
place. It was a theatre restaurant, and the theme was horror films and cyber-mania
and the like. You are greeted at the door by a really weird guy in spike hair, who lets you in via the
"secret" entrance. The inside is a bar with a glass floor, and what's
underneath are skeletons in coffins. On the walls are pictures of various horror
movies and actors and actresses thereof.
To actually get into the theatre, you take a little tram car down a
darkened tunnel, where some big ghostly guys with clubs pound on your car and generally
try to scare the beejezuz out of you. As it turned out, there was a little more to
it than that...
The tables are rather crowded, but we were in the cheap seats: there was
balcony seating as well, where the people got served champagne before dinner (boo!)
The interior is suitably ghoulish, with a touch of "Neuromancer" thrown
in. There was lots of before-dinner entertainment, with the ghoulish cast describing
the dinner choices for the evening (chicken dish, beef dish, fish dish, vegan dish, etc.)
The acting was hilarious, with highlights such as "Lurch Sings the Sound of
Music" and the descriptions of the food ("How's the fish?"
They didn't slow down as dinner was being served, either. All the waiters and waitresses were characters from horror films
(ours was Wednesday Adams), and called out for people getting "Chicken Tits" and
"Dead Cow". And just so the vegetarians in the group were not left out,
the salads were served in a skull.
Also before the show, there was a woman who apparently had
"complained" to the staff, so they sent out the "Complaints
Department", which consisted of all the waiters and waitresses gathering around her
and shrieking at the top of their lungs. Later they gave her a big evil-looking
drink to quaff and everyone clapped. We also got a group photo taken.
The show was pretty outrageous, there was a character call "Ian
Bred" (inbred: get it?) who was dressed like some Deep South hick and who was
Tasmanian (jeez, they really rag on the Tasmanians in Australia!). At one point he
came out with an inflatable sheep attached to his crotch, and started teasing some New
Zealanders in the audience ("Nah, nah, nah NAH nah!") One humor-impaired
guy in that group actually started yelling at the stage to get them to quit it: of course
this only egged them on! There was also another character who was supposed to be
some sort of drug addict (first time I'd seen THAT on stage), and one guy who played a
really good "Lurch" ("And now a word from our sponsor:" <squeaky
The show had quite a variety of stuff: they sang several popular songs,
including a bit from "My Heart Will Go On (Titanic Theme)" that ended with the
singee turning out to be Ian Bred ("Screech!"). They weren't bad singers,
overall, although I thought the main show would be more horror/cyberspace themes.
Other highlights include a glow-in-the-dark skeletons skit, a skit where one of the guys
"played" one of the girls as various instruments, a bit where they played back a
detective story in reverse, then in slow motion (this is LIVE, not recorded), and a bit
where they showed *ALL* the reactions of the audience members as they went through that
darkened tunnel. It was interesting seeing who got really scared and who
didn't! They also threw in some little outtakes from the tunnel: one guy loses his
teeth, while a girl loses her dress!
A bunch of the group went dancing for a third night in a row, but by this
point I was starting to lose my voice and was feeling a bit under the weather, so I
skipped out on it that night. Tomorrow we are off to Frasers Island!