September 19, 2004

Whooshka! Life of (Uncle) Brian

In a moment of spontaneity, we signed up for a guided tour of Queensland's Atherton Tableland region, solely on the recommendation of our hostel's travel agent. She said that we would like it so much that we would recommend the tour to an entire tour bus full of our friends. She also said that "Uncle Brian", the owner and guide of the tour, was a bit of a local legend. The next thing we knew, it was 7:30am and we were waiting outside our hostel for Uncle Brian to pick us up.

WARNING: DON'T READ PAST THIS POINT IF YOU'RE CONSIDERING GOING ON UNCLE BRIAN'S TOUR. IT COULD SPOIL SOME SURPRISES. JUST GO. TRUST ME. (Have I filled my bus load yet? :)

Uncle Brian was immediately quite impressive because as he picked up his 22 passengers at various hostels around town, he immediately memorized each person's name and repeated the names of everyone already on the bus to the newcomer. He also introduced everybody to "Gus", our bus for the day.

Uncle Brian's tour was advertised as "Fun, Falls, and Forests". It's pretty easy to explain what he meant by "falls and forests". Uncle Brian and Gus drove us around to five different beautiful spots. There were tropical rainforests, volcanic lakes, spectacular waterfalls, and a natural waterslide down some slippery rocks. At the first four sites we went swimming, and at the fifth site we spotted the elusive platypus swimming in a river.

Uncle Brian and Gus did an excellent job showing us around some beautiful natural spots. But what they really did spectacularly well was to show us a very very good time (that's the "fun" bit of the tour). It's not so easy to entertain a busload of 22 people of different ages from different countries for 13 hours, but Uncle Brian and Gus had it down pat.

Here are some examples of fun we had:

1. As we drove around Queensland, we waved to every single person that we passed on the streets. They all waved back. They'd seen Uncle Brian and friends before, five days a week for 12 years. As we passed through one town, an elderly woman ws waiting for us on her lawn. She pulled out 3 enormous stuffed caterpillars (bigger than her!) and a long ribbon on a stick to wave at us.

2. Uncle Brian had puzzles and chocolate for us to help pass the time on the longer stretches of driving. He also organized a few "get to know you" games.

3. At beautiful Milla Milla falls, Uncle Brian showed us how to re-enact the Timotei Shampoo commercial that was filmed there. Does this picture make you want to buy shampoo?

4. "Gus FM", our lovely bus's tunes, just made us want to dance. In unison. Like, to "YMCA", say.

By the end of our day, everyone was in an extremely good mood (or driving on the "bright side of the road", as Gus would say). We also felt like we had just made 22 new friends. Up at the front of Gus, Uncle Brian kept his doll Elmo (who he would wave out the window at other buses that passed by). Elmo was given to Uncle Brian by a six-year old girl who, at the end of the tour, told him that it was Elmo's best day of his life. She wanted Elmo to have that much fun every day, so she left him with Uncle Brian. After 13 hours with Uncle Brian and Gus, we could see why.

More photos here.

Thanks Uncle Brian and Gus for a fantastic day! Whooshka!

Posted by miriam at September 19, 2004 02:19 PM
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