Monday, March 11, 2013

Heaven on Earth, aka Aussie Surf Life Saving Clubs

Good news!  After less than one week in Australia, LSF and I have found, and celebrated, the greatest thing about Australian culture that exists....and that is local Surf Life Saving Clubs. 

Backing up a bit.  Saturday morning, we left Sydney, flew to Brisbane and then drove to the Gold Coast area of Australia.  After spending several days amidst the hustle and bustle that is Sydney, Gold Coast was quite the different experience.   The Gold Coast area's largely tourism-based, with huge surfing beaches overshadowed by large condo buildings/ resorts, theme parks, and little else.   The beaches are lovely, but at this point the waves are so rough that the beaches are almost all closed due to dangerous conditions (it had apparently rained for almost 6 weeks straight in Brisbane before we arrived, so I suspect the conditions were due to that weather event).  


We got into town, had lunch in a fancy seaside restaurant, wandered around our resort a little, and then tried to figure out what exactly we we could do on the Gold Coast beyond just laying in the sun, which both of us are sort of over at this point.

A short half-mile walk later, and we'd found our happy place:  the Southport Surf Life Saving Club.
I wish I could speak intelligently about Surf Life Saving in Australia, but even with the help of Wikipedia, I still haven't been able to figure out exactly how to describe it other than to say it's a big part of Aussie culture.  Life saving is not only a job/ career (I was a lifeguard at the neighborhood pool in high school/ college and never knew it was a feasible career alternative), it's also a sport.... Aussie kids get involved in life saving competitions that involve ocean swimming, running, kayaking, etc.  They have a championship surf life saving events known as the "Iron Man" series (how the WTC hasn't put a stop to that, I have no idea) which I've seen broadcast on TV several times.  It is, in short, a big deal. 
Me in the Surf Club. Kindly ignore the stink eye (see below)

The local towns all have surf clubs to support these endeavors, and the best word I can use to describe these clubs is.....heaven.  These are local gathering spots that have: 1) cheap drinks; 2) gambling; 3) extensive and affordable dinner menus; 4) heaps of friendly Aussies; 5) Aussie sports on TV; 6) prime views of the ocean.   Once we stumbled on our local surf club and discovered the magic contained within, we were hooked.  In two days, LSF and I visited the local surf club THREE times.  Twice for dinner, and once for lunch.  I guess when you find something that's amazing, why keep looking elsewhere?
Of course, we did stuff other than hanging out at the surf club when we were in Gold Coast, but not all that much.  Mostly, we drove inland and hiked through a rainforest.  We saw a waterfall, took some pictures, escaped most of the rain, and then just barely managed to navigate our way back to home.

This morning, after our two days in the Gold Coast, we checked out and moved on to Noosa, an awesome little hippie-dippy surf town that also has its own Surf Life Saving Club that we, of course, found within minutes.  

The trip to Noosa would have been uneventful but for the fact that I'm pretty much on the verge of blindness.   I walked away from my race last weekend with very few physical complaints (spending more time walking than running during the last 13 miles will leave your legs feeling pretty darn fresh post-race) except for a painful eye that I assumed was just due to runny sunscreen.    Eight days later, the eye has been hurting more and more every day, I'm having a hard time keeping it open, my vision is slightly cloudy, and most troubling, I have absolutely no tolerance for sunlight whatsover in that eye.  That's be OK were we not in a place where the UV index is 12 on a scale of 10 (no joke).  Keeping it open enough to drive to Noosa was torture today, and the only solution I could think of was to do this:
Yes, that is two pairs of sunglasses. 
I know, I know, the double sunglasses look is super hot and will certainly be sweeping the Paris runways soon enough.  I'm also bringing back the "sunglasses at night" look. 

And yes, I am aware that I should see a doctor, but grumble grumble grumble, I'm on vacation, questionable insurance situation, I'm tougher than that, etc. etc. grumble grumble.   But if any of you are optical experts, feel free to drop me an email with reassurances that I am not, in fact, losing my sight.

More on Noosa later, but let's just say, after a mere two hours in this town I was already quite seriously looking into the possibility of moving in for awhile.  I'm booked to come back to the States on March 19, but so many of you have been posting such wonderful pictures of snow on Facebook that I'm strongly considering extending my stay in the Southern hemisphere until conditions at home are a bit more hospitable for a girl whose blood has gotten very thin, indeed.  So, thanks for that, friends!

1 comment:

  1. That sounds very similar to when I had a torn cornea. If that's the case it replaces itself every 24 hours so wear a patch for 24 hours. Just a thought.

    And now I want a beer at 9:30 in the morning thanks to your blog.