Rockhampton, the meat capital of Australia was just another city to drive through as we made our way to Airlie Beach. With limited time and a lot of ground to cover, a driving day was very much needed. Yet, when you've been cramped in a van driving hours on end, a small detour to make lunch and regroup was very much needed.
It all started when we needed internet to check something out but the Macca's (aka McDonalds) didn't have a plug and one thing turned into another. The very nice lady at the information site let us charge the laptop but they didn't have free internet - very important when you're on a budget, and so what to do but get a little information and make lunch. Well, we ended up spending a few hours at the local library which by the way, was amazing for such a small town (kinda wish I took a picture now that I think about it) and drove by the Great Western Hotel. Now, that nice lady had said that Wednesday nights were 2 for 1 dinners and rodeo practice. It was completely un-intentional to stop and have dinner (remember budget!!) and well, we hadn't had dinner in a restaurant nor any entertainment since the cruise ship....yeah maybe we were a little spoiled after a 30 day cruise but we were doing pretty well cooking outta the van, that we decided we could splurge a little and stop in for a little sit-down dinner.
Remember, meat capital so what to have but....Steak...which was good, not great but 2 for 1, made it taste better. We watched the kids, LITERALLY kids practice riding bulls...teenagers too but anyways afterwards, as I was staring at the pictures on the wall waiting for the girls to come out of the bathroom, a young guy starts making conversation. Now, I know I stick out like a sore thumb...I mean...we're in the meat capital, watching a rodeo, how many Filipinos do you see hanging around ranches? And have you ever heard of an Australian cowboy? I mean when I hear cowboys I definitely don't think of Australians being cowboys but then again what do I know except for Texas? HA! Anyways, I'm sure I had AMERICAN written all over my face but conversation lead to a game of Sail Boat (aka Flip Cup) and it was the Aussies vs Americans. Now, the girls do not drink and we're in Australia so who else is American? Oh...thank goodness it was only 3 cups of beer and thank goodness I only had to drink two. I was supposed to continue driving that night...remember mission to Airlie Beach? Well, that wasn't going to happen...me driving that is. Anyways, technically they won, and really we won...I mean they did flip the last cup first but they didn't drink all of their beer ....and its not because I didn't down the beer...oh I gulped those two cups faster than they finished their first beer but...its not always easy flicking those cups right side up. We all stood around the table trying to flip a cup to see who won. Anyways, let's just say this lead to the next bar.
The five of us, Steph, Colleen and I along with our new mates, Evan and Travis went to another hang out spot. I want you to remember hospitality....now, they wanted to make sure us Americans were going to have a great time in Australia so what do they do...buy jugs of alcohol for us, really just me, to enjoy. The guys figured since I was the only one who drinks, I should be allowed to get drunk one night and of course they wanted to drink me under the table. It was a nice try but we'll get to that later. Jug after jug, laugh after laugh...mind you Travis is hillarious - full of energy, full of jokes, full of quick one liners that definitely gave my stomach a work out. All this then leads to the next place for some Maroke (aka Karaoke). OH! This is also where we all learned about some Aussie culture, words and MOVEMBER...which will be in another post.
So, next place was more drinking supplied by Evan & Travis - I barely was able to buy them a couple drinks each (they wouldn't let me buy them any), also included dancing and Maroke. Oh, the dance Travis showed us...the "nervous" dance (I might try to get a clip on here) funny stuff...anyways we all sang "Summer Lovin" But afterwards, Evan invited us to stay at his place. It was amazing that he had offered and the chance to sleep where I could actually stretch out a little bit more than in a van was....very restful. He even cooked us up some food, I mean after a night of dancing, drinking and singing, of course we were hungry not to mention our expanded stomachs from the cruise ship.
Evan woke up to go to the grocery store to cook us this amazing breakfast. I'll let the picture show it all. It was probably the BEST breakfast I had in Australia. And the entire time, I kept thinking...this would never happen in the U.S. I mean, it was more than just allowing a place to crash for the night, it was more than just having a great time learning about the culture...it was more than necessary - the drinking, the place to stay, the extra effort to get food for breakfast. I was in complete awe and driving away, I just couldn't believe their hospitality. It was also hard to say goodbye to Evan's dog, Sheila. She was so sweet and kept coming next to me and letting me pet her head...mind you she was pregnant and come to find out a week later had 17 pups! Can you believe that? Anyways, I felt that she even got a little sad as if she knew I was leaving. Isn't it weird that dogs have that sense? Me and my tangents...
If I could ever repay what Evan and Travis has done....I would jump at the opportunity. Their hospitality, their friendship means a lot and even now, I speak of their genuine personalities showing what Australian hospitality is all about.