Page 147: Pam's girlfriends drop in for some retail therapy
  They're here! Let the talkfest begin.  
  The three "sisters by choice" at the beach on the Gold Coast. Retail therapy specialists and long time friends.
Left to right: Pat, the quiet one, Pam who can talk for Australia and Tracey who is completely off the wall.
  Qantas, they'll need a larger aircraft going back.                                    Tell me, do they look happy to be reunited?  
  Back at the ranch we'd decorated their cabin a little. Our caravan was only fifty metres away.  

So it was on for young and old. Between arriving on Friday and departing early the following Wednesday we visited Ipswich, Brisbane's South Bank, took a boat cruise on the Brisbane River and drove to the Gold Coast and Tamborine Mountain. Wine flowed every evening (mostly into Pam and I) and kilograms were stacked on.

My unspoken role was to drive when required but not to interfere. This involved spending a day at the Railway Museum in Ipswich and waiting (by choice) outside many and varied shops. This was very much a girls reunion. 'Pink' time that I owed Pam for the many airshows and mechanical 'blue' things that she patiently attended.

  Of course, for me it was no hardship to spend a day at the old railway works, now a museum.
The blurry gentleman in the foreground was our guide. The elderly chap approaching was an ex-engine driver.

There were two conducted tours of the works and I signed on for both. The first was of the steam section. The older bloke in the photo was an ex-engine driver who was very knowledgeable and quite a character. In his day he had driven some of the engines in the museum and had his favourites. After a while it became debatable who was guiding the tour but the official guide took it all in good part.

The second tour was of the blacksmith's shop for this was not only a museum but a working concern as well.

  This is a lady blacksmith who is demonstrating electric arc butt welding for the tour group.  

Yes, Folks, a female blacksmith! We also saw her swinging a large hammer while forging red hot steel into a pickaxe head. In the picture she was welding two bars together. The welder works at six volts but many thousands of amps.

Meanwhile, not far away, the Riverlink Shopping precinct was being invaded by three very happy ladies who, unhampered by their husbands, were in shopping heaven.

The following day was Sunday and Southbank's turn.

  Brisbane city from Southbank reminded me a little of Southbank in Melbourne.  
  This stretched Hummer was designed to attract attention and it did. Tracey (left) had the same idea as me.  
  This is more my style of transport though Kookaburra Queen is powered by diesel, not steam.  
  Southbank holds a market every Sunday, too much for retail therapists to resist.  
  These two ladies take their shopping very seriously.                             For this little one, however, it was all just too much.  
  The Southbank foreshore is very tastefully developed, a place for people to relax. Perth could develop the Swan River
foreshore in a similar way to Melbourne and Brisbane. I used to be against it but I've changed my mind.
  ’Ello, Trace.  
  The Gold Coast and Tamborine Mountain  

On Monday we drove to the Gold Coast which is south of Brisbane. The Pacific Ocean shoreline is cluttered with high-rise development and very crowded. The purpose of the visit was to show the place to Pat; Tracey has spent a few holidays there and she and her husband love it. Pam and I have also been there before and can take it or leave it. We enjoyed a cup of coffee and left for Tamborine Mountain.

Tamborine Mountain was inhabited by Aborigines for tens of thousands of years and was the territory of the Wangerriburra people. The Yugambeh language is the origin of the name Tamborine, which means wild lime and refers to the finger lime trees that grow on the mountain. It has no connection with the tambourine musical instrument. The mountain, strictly speaking, is a volcanic plateau about four kilometres wide by eight kilometres long. The soil is very fertile and much of Tamborine Mountain resembles rain forest.

Human settlement on the plateau is centred on three village communities: North Tamborine, Eagle Heights and Mount Tamborine, with a total population of about 5,100. We found Mount Tamborine village very reliant on tourism with many boutique type shops selling arts and crafts, and frequently fudge. There were also many places serving food and coffee. There is no reticulated water supply or sewerage system, and residents are dependent on rainwater, bores and septic systems. Let's hope they keep the bores and septic systems well separated.

  Goodbye Pat and tracey  

In no time it was Tuesday and Tracey and Pat were packing ready for a early morning departure on Wednesday morning. They had secretly ordered a taxi for 06:00 so that I didn't need to drive them to the airport at an hour which has become totally alien to me. For that I thank you, kind ladies. We did get up to say our farewells at the caravan park entrance before the taxi whisked them away. When will we see them again? Who knows.