All the skinny young things

Brisbane Travel Blog

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 We’ve been in Brisbane for a week now, doing our “health aspects of disasters” course in a city experiencing its own freak weather. Our jet lag is only just fading now, the rest of the week we’ve been waking up at five - partly because Brisbane doesn’t have daylight savings (it was beaten in a referendum on a campaign against the extra hour of sunlight on the grounds that it would “fade the curtains and confuse the cows”). I guess despite my grumbling about technology I am not really a Luddite any more, as the stagnant internet infrastructure in Australia, limiting me to two minutes of net access a day despite living in a wired hotel and working at a university all day, is driving me crazy.

We are certainly in an Australian setting again. Casual swearing in a professional setting, no formality or ceremony, skinny young things everywhere (actually, after thinking all week that the bubbly pretty things were young than me, I found out we were the same age - I guess I am just tired, worn-out and cynical for my age). Once again I was struck by how similar and yet fundamentally different Australia and America can be: both often exhibit a crude cultural superiority, and yet in Australia it is shrugged off as not being a big deal, while in America that particular segment of society is often militant about it. Likewise, I find certain Americans and Australians to be overly confident for their skill set, yet in Australia it is more often overlying a “she’ll be right, it doesn’t really matter anyway” idea, rather than in the supreme self-confidence some Americans develop.

Last night we walked into Queen Street mall, in the centre of the city. I was really impressed with how bustling it was. It has been six years since I was in Brisbane last, and the city centre is now really a night spot hub, far more active than night spots in bigger cities than Seattle. Maybe it is because it is the only hub in Brisbane, so people gather in the same place. Or the recent immigration expanding Brisbane has just given an excess of pretty young things. It was also a diverse crowd, with Friday night shopping bringing out all ages. Seeing the same old set of shops in every mall (A Myers Centre, Just Jeans, Dymocks, David Jones, Woolworths, Sportsgirl, Roger David, etc) certainly sparked familiarity, but no more, no deep seated sense that I had come home. In fact, it even felt slightly odd when, after watching Quantum of Solace, the audience didn’t applaud the screen (even though I always found that particular American habit slightly irritating).

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