15 Feb 2008 - Rod - Day off in Cairns


So it was up early again -- 7.30am -- and car to airport to get 9.25 Quantas to Cairns up there in Northern Queensland. Plenty of time so got some breakfast at the airport. What is it that makes airport food so poor and sometimes as bad as a bad imitation of a motorway café??

I have been up to Northern Queensland before on what was then my third trip to OZ. I went with the band in 82 and 85 but we only got as far north as Brisbane and Newcastle, not many big tours get as far as Cairns. But in 89, just after Kathy and I got engaged, we went down for the British Lions Rugby Tour. Kathy read law at college with England and Lions hooker Brian Moore and he arranged tickets for us -- and a memorable night out with the pack in a Sydney Harbour pub after the first test was lost - just me, Kathy and the Lions pack.

As a total rugby groupie that must be my career highlight!! At one point second row Donal Lenihan was chatting Kathy up -- a British Lion, six foot four, a doctor and all that with the Oirish twinkle in the eye and a wonderful charming and romantic accent!! I thought what chance had I but survived to get married a few weeks later.  But back to the story. So we saw our loss in the first test and after that we went up to Port Douglas about an hours drive north of Cairms where we planned to stay for a the midweek, returning to Brisbane for the second test. The hotel there -- The Mirage -- was amazing, at the time one of the most beautiful I had seen anywhere. So as we lost the first test we decided to stay in nirvana at the Mirage hoping desperately that the Lions would win in Brisbane to set up the decider back in Sydney. We went white water rafting on the Daintree River, travelled into the Rain Forest, snorkelled and, for the first time, dived on the Great Barrier Reef. This was my first time diving and I think it planted the bug. Sadly we tore ourselves away to go the the final deciding test -- yes we won in Brisbane thanks to some Jeremy Guscott genius.  In Sydney we had poor tickets right at the front but in the corner by the tryline. However these ended out being great seats when Campese threw back a terrible pass to his full back, Martin, I think, and Ieuan Evans pounced to score the match and series winning try. All right in front of us, just yards away. Yes, sometimes even the Welsh are useful, boyo!!!!

But enough of that. We returned on the Maiden tour in 92, by which time we were not only married but had 2 toddlers, Tom and Ben. Tom had just gone 2 and Ben had his first birthday party in Bobby McGees in Darling Harbour, licking Fosters from my lips!! He hasn't got any better since!!. We stayed a couple of months in Sydney and then went up to the Mirage again for a whole month over Christmas and the new year. Kathy's dad, Roy, was with us and we played loads of golf.

Of course I did visit Oz again after that, but only for 2 nights. Oh yes Nov 2003, World Cup final. But we will move on from there as it may offend our Aussie fan club members....!!!

So as you can probably tell I adore Oz and its people -- any nation which has cricket , rugby and beer high on the agenda has to be a great country in my book. And Aussies are great companions and a lot of fun, and, as I like to think we northerners are, pretty straight to the point, even if a bit painful.

All the band love it here too and we would have been back well before this visit if we had been given a half decent offer. I wasn't having the band being away from home -- and their growing families (and mine too!) -- for 10 days or so  just to lose a lot of money. I always thought the promoters  were underestimating the business we would do. So thank you Mr Paul Dainty for showing the faith and getting us back here and I think the turnout of our ever brilliant fans have justified it tenfold. Its been a great tour down here -- even though I am missing Brisbane tomorrow (fyi the guys later told me that Brisbane was a steaming gig and the crowd were great so thanks to you all again if you were there).

After a painless flight arrived in Perth about midday -- and it was pissing down. They are having severe rainstorms on the north east coasts of OZ and there is a real danger of irreversible erosion leading, along with the gradual rise in sea level, to flooding. In Australia the environment is well to the forefront of most peoples thinking. Yesterday there was apparently six inches of rain in Cairns.

So get to the hotel -- no chance of the poolside sun and RnR I was looking forward to. So what do you do....get out the laptop and catch up to save doing it later. Around 4 I went down to the spa. Still raining outside. Sod it, let's get the full treatment at the hotel Spa. Had the lot for about four hours, but I am not telling you what as you might think l have gone soft!!!. A bit self indulgent, yes, but bloody nice!!  A bit more work after as UK has opened up (10 hours behind now) then bed pretty early -- have to be up and out at 6am in the morning for a one hour drive to Port Douglas to pick up the boat, Poseidon, for my first day full on diving on the Reef!!! Very excited!!!

- Rod

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