We're leaving today at 15:30, so must make the most of our few hours here. With the approach of Christmas, Monica decides that Hastings Street would be a good place to buy a few festive presents. I point out that this is the most expensive thoroughfare in the most expensive town in Queensland and remind her that the British ecomomy needs a boost. We pass a shop which has a 'closing down' sale. Racks of summer dresses extend into the street. There is a buzz of women seeking bargains. "Is there a bookshop near here you could go to?" Monica asks. "I may be some time." I sit on one of the fancy benches that are placed on the pavement for the comfort of the beautiful people. Opposite, on display in a shop window is a tea towel decorated with my new nemesis: the Noosa Bush Turkey.
I strike up a conversation with an old guy (about my age) who is also waiting for his wife. He is from Taiwan, reired after a career in pharmacuticals and academia. When I tell him I'm Irish, he is surprised. He's had difficulty with Irish accents in the past. With mine, he has no problem. Australian accents, on the other hand, he finds hard: "When I watch television here, I only get 30% of what they say." I say, "That's very good - better than my average". We exchange travel stories until Monica returns holding a bag containing her bargain dress. He laughs. "Just wait until you see what your family has bought", she says. On cue, his wife and two daughters appear, laden with shopping bags. He stops laughing.
Monica tells me a story illustrating Noosa sales techniques. One of the larger customers in the shop approached the assistant, dress in hand. "Do you have a bigger size in this?" she asked. "You don't need a bigger size. The one you're wearing is too big for you". The affronted woman went outside to inform her sister of this judgement. Noosa must be the only place in the world where 'size 6' and 'XX small' are the norm.
We hire bikes for a couple of hours and cycle around the river and channels that provide Noosa with such an enormous water frontage. This has enabled countless rich Australians to realise the dream of having an architect-designed house with an attached yacht-mooring. On a park footbridge, we encounter some kids fishing and jumping into the water below, not normally complementary activities. The adults are sailing in the lagoon or travelling along its length by water taxi.
Waiting for our Greyhound at the bus depot, we are approached by a young French backpacker as forlorn as a Dingo puppy. He asks us if we've seen a large blue rucksack. He'd left it on the bus platform: someone told him it would be okay there. A couple of bus drivers, having a a cigarette break, tell him it's either been stolen or loaded onto another bus. When we leave, he's on the bus with us without his bag, ear to his mobile phone.
The journey to Brisbane takes us through the heart of the Sunshine Coast. Naturally, the sun shines all the way though this time the air conditioning is working. We reach Brisbane Bus Terminus at 17:30. We're staying in Spring Hill in a listed Queensland-style house built in 1886. The area is close to the city centre, the river and China Town. We elect to eat in China Town. It is Saturday night. We learn this is where all the young people in Brisbane go for a good night out. Tonight, we are the oldest diners in China Town. Plus ca change.