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During my travels newspaper columns were published weekly in the Dutch daily newspaper
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This project has been supported by these great and warmhearted companies:
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Reports

Wednesday, 3 April 2002
Brisbane City --> Ascott, Brisbane, Australia

After last night drinking in the Downunder bar, I had expected a hangover or anything like that, but fortunately the headache passed my room on the 4th floor and this resulted in a relaxing afternoon and meeting a bunch of funny people.
I woke up at 9am, as I had to check out of the room at 10 and met Renée Tentori at the ground floor reception.

I would meet up my next host for today, also living in Brisbane, much later today, so Renée decided to take me along for some breakfast at a food court near the Queens Street Mall. Basically one café latté with a muffin was enough for me. Boy, are these things rich!

Yesterday she had showed me a big part of the city already, from the soothing South Bank with its parks and simulated beaches, that I had seen most of the city centre already.

And I like Brisbane. It’s just like Renée said: “It’s not that big that you get lost easily and it’s not that small that everybody knows you.” And that quite reminded me of my hometown Zwolle in the Netherlands. If you feel you fit in, it’s the right size for you.

We passed the City Hall and just inside I saw the announcement of an exposition that was now going on inside. Reporting the World: John Pilger’s Great Eyewitness Photographers. And I grabbed Renée’s attention: “John Pilger! John Pilger!”
John Pilger the best reporter in the world, if you ask me. The free exhibition contained all photographs from joining photographers from the Barbican Gallery in London (UK).

What makes John Pilger a truly great journalist is his conscience and his bravery. I mean, he has been to almost any fireplace on earth and really knows to write the unbiased (!!!) truth of those situations.

As an Australian, Pilger also wrote the book A Secret Country: The Hidden Australia. One reviewer about this book wrote the famous words: “I guess if it smells like a conspiracy, looks like a conspiracy, sounds like a conspiracy, well it must be the truth.”

His website looks in detail at the issues raised in Pilger's TV-films on Iraq, Vietnam, East Timor, Burma, Australia and now Indonesia. It also explores his concerns about the ever-increasing power of global media organizations. Really worth a visit and worth to come back for once in a while.

In the afternoon Renée had to go to a meeting of the tourism industry, so I spent some time lounging around in the Palace Backpackers, typing away on my laptop and chatting with the lady of the tour desk. She might be able to help me out with some interesting tours through the outback.

Well, that outback again. I am travelling up north towards Cairns, where my invites stop. So I can go back south again, do the same route as before and pass Sydney to head down to the capital city Canberra and to Melbourne. But if I could just find some way of transport from Cairns into the outback towards Alice Springs and Darwin…

It was around 5pm when I met up with Renée again. I thanked her for letting me stay in this place and she even invited me to stay at the Mooloolaba Backpackers in Mooloolaba, just some few hours up north from Brisbane. I kept that in mind for later.

At the front door of the backpackers I met up with Sam Forbes, a businessman with a tie, which I haven’t seen very often during my travels.

Sam is a laugh! We walked down a few streets and waited in front of a big complex for her girlfriend, as we would finish work soon and someway we both were being very comical. Sam also loved my hitchhiking signs saying “I don’t kill” and “As Seen On TV”. I just used these once in a while as the normal destination-signs don’t always go well, and the results are great.

Sam Forbes lives together with his charming girlfriend Carmen, who works at the promotion office of the National Health Department, as I remembered that well. When I contacted Sam a few days ago, he told her about the fact that he invited me over. She never knew about it, even though he had invited me almost a year ago when a colleague told him about my ‘genious’ website.

I dropped down my stuff in their humble apartment in the northeastern suburb Ascott and Sam told me too feel at home and do whatever I want to do. With the constant pressure of writing a report on the website, I connected my laptop next to his and started checking the emails.

Someway German television has broadcast the footage of Australian’s Channel 9 and dubbed the whole report in German. That’s is a pity, because I get hundreds of emails from Germans who don’t understand the English on my website and just click on my email address thinking that that is the way to invite me over – in German. Not that the German language is such a problem for me, but I just want to keep my project English...

Around dinner time Sam and Carmen took me along to the celebrated Breakfast Creek Hotel (located on the Breakfast Creek Road, so you can’t blame the owners for the name), which restaurant is also well-known for their steaks. People call them the best steaks of the state!

I met up with a big group of friends of Sam and Carmen and we joined at a big long table in the Spanish Garden of de hotel restaurant. Sam ordered me beers as I had to talk about my project to all those relatives of my hosts. Sometimes it’s hard to play that tape again, but this time it was just funny to see most of the guest sigh of jealousy. It was that ‘I wish I came up with that idea’-thing again.

I had one big Rib Eye Fillet for dinner and I hardly could finish everything on my plate. And what they say about the steaks here is true!

Long after dinner conversations kept on going. One of the men at the table was a police agent and is thinking about inviting me at a police station in Australia and have me stay for a day in a cell. Well, honestly, if I can sleep and update my website, it is all fine with me!

Then the ladies started to talk. And that was fun (and sometimes humiliating) for the men, when single 30-somethings start talking about their dating life. Names of people have been changed into nicknames as the Plumper, the Colonel, the Stewart, etcetera.

I couldn’t believe hearing some of those stories, but probably a few glasses of wine helped those ladies to open the book. Believe me, it was hilarious to just sit in between it all.

It was around 11pm when the restaurant personnel started to pile up the garden chairs and we noticed we all were the last around.

I am still waiting for the invite at a police station.

Back home I noticed that the Guinness was doing his job in my stomach and we all headed to the pillows. I jumped on the two-person-bed in the guestroom and fell asleep, dreaming about being a man with a nickname; what would mine be?

Good night Ascott!

Ramon.