If you google “things to do in Brisbane on a rainy day” you don’t get many results.
It’s Friday morning. Nanette and I are off to Brisbane to spend the day with Peter and Alex, part of our extended Canadian family. The guys are only here for a couple of days and we promised to show them a good time – but – it’s raining. No problem, we’ll just wing it and see what happens.
We arrive at the unit as planned around 9:30 and look out at the grey sky and light showers. Peter laughs “You call this rain? Back home in Vancouver we use days like this to work on our tans.” Ok, it’s settled, and five minutes later we’re on the street looking for a late breakfast. My first chance to shine – “hey guys – I know this great pancake place. Have you ever heard of a Big Breakfast?”
11:00. We’re strolling along the bank of the Brisbane River, in the rain. We’ve done breakfast and Southbank, and now we’re starting to run out of options. “How about the museum? I hear there’s a great collection of early English handkerchiefs……..” “No? Ok, let’s just go for a ride on the City Cat ferry.”
2:00. Still raining, and getting heavier. Google doesn’t have any answers. Time to go old school – well, sort of. Nanette has a bright idea. “Hey look, the radar app says it’s not raining in Tewantin.” We weigh up the options.
1 – sit in the room and play monopoly.
2 – find a tourist shop and fake some photos cuddling a stuffed koala toy.
3 – drive to the Sunshine Coast and get out of the rain.
If we leave now, we can get to the coast by 3:30, spend some time at the beach, nice dinner, and be back in Brissy around 9:00. Problem solved!
Traffic’s always heavier on rainy days, so we’re not too concerned that the M1 is a little slow. Then it gets slower, and the rain gets heavier. Then, wham! We’re in the middle of a killer storm and nobody’s going nowhere!
5:00. The storm just keeps intensifying, and we’re still stopped. Lots of drivers are getting restless. We chuckle as two teenage girls emerge from one of the cars for a casual stroll through the deluge. Ah, the things kids do!
7:00. It’s dark. The rain has more or less stopped, but we still haven’t moved. We’ve mounted a couple of expeditions to the front of the line to see what’s happening. There’s floodwater over the road and the police officer in the bright yellow suit is monitoring its gradual subsidence. A lady emerges out of the gloom. “HEY!! Can’t you get this moving!! I need to pee!” The officer just gives her a look developed over many years of keeping the peace. It says “Lady, there are more than three thousand cars stuck here tonight. Everyone has been here for about four hours. They ALL want to pee.” As the lady fades back into the darkness, I briefly wonder if those girls we saw earlier regret getting soaked to the skin yet.
9:00. Still no action. We’ve run out of ideas for “car games” so our guests are filling in time looking at the map on the phone. “Um – is Australia Zoo near here?” “Yeah, it’s not far, but even if it was open it’s probably surrounded by floodwater by now.” “Er – and they have lots of crocodiles there don’t they? In big open pens?” Ah! Now we understand why the cop keeps scanning the water with his torch.
9:30. We’re just starting a new game of Spot the Ripple in the Water when a cheer goes up from the cars ahead. We’re moving! There’s no way we can get back to Brisbane tonight, so we’ll just have to spend the night at some swanky place at the coast, but first, there’s that roadhouse ahead with food, and bathrooms.
It’s nearly ten o’clock when we finally check in to the last apartment that the swanky place has available. To my surprise, Peter says that he has enjoyed the brush with “the real Australia”, though he is a little disappointed he didn’t get to wrestle a crocodile in the dark. On reflection, I guess this has been a once in a lifetime experience. Maybe I should call Google and tell them there are things to do in Brisbane when it rains.