Surfers Shenanigans

I’VE awoken in a Surfers Paradise hotel room and I have a swollen eye. The Surfers Paradise part I can explain, even to myself who takes a few minutes to remember what I’m doing on Australia’s Gold Coast. But I have no idea how I’ve acquired the swollen eye. I check my hotel bathroom for a baby, a tiger and Bradley Cooper. 

 The last thing I remember was playing Putt Putt golf with some friends before having a few drinks. Unless things have changed in the past 20 years, Putt Putt, from memory, is a pretty tame affair which doesn’t result in swollen organs.

I decide to take Quasimodo out to breakfast, acutely aware this shall not the morning I will be meeting the man of my dreams. When I head back to the 22nd floor my room key is no longer working. Which would not be such a problem were it not for the strange grumble my stomach has just made. Just when I think my morning can’t get much worse, it does. The cause of my swollen eye suddenly becomes apparent. I’ve overindulged in oysters at the seafood buffet the previous evening, I’m having an allergic reaction, and now my gut is about to explode. In the lift. Full of women attending a beauty conference.

 I break into a cold sweat. By now, I’m frantic. It occurs to me that I’m about to resemble an Australian footballer, and crouch on the carpeted hotel hallway with my swollen eye and do the unspeakable. I telephone my friend whose room number I can’t remember. “Open your door,” I scream down the line, “O-p-e-n. Y-o-u-r. D-o-o-r!”  A door swings open down the hall by which stage, I am crawling like one of the crabs which is causing all the commotion inside me. I burst into what I hope is her hotel room, and not that of some poor Japanese tourist, and dash to the toilet.


My retro weekend in Surfers Paradise has begun with a blast. My friend, Corina, has decided our next adventure should be cycling along the beachfront to the Southport Spit. It’s going to be so simple, bikes are even delivered to our hotel room. Corina is wearing her trademark high heels, tighty whitey pants, and a koala backpack we’ve nicknamed “fluffy”. I am having visions of my own loveliness, dressed in a long white skirt, hair blowing in the sea breeze, riding along the oceanfront like something out of a feminine hygiene ad. Dame Alison, our other friend, has wisely decided to take a limo transfer to meet us for lunch. I take off and make it to the first corner when my skirt becomes entangled in the bike chain. Corina falls off her bike. We are covered in grease when we limp in to lunch at the old Southport Bathing Pavilion which is now a café. A bloke called Chico offers us a Chicko roll. Things are looking up.


That evening, Corina has planned a special surprise. A trip to the Wax Museum. The operators resemble the Adams family which is more than we can say for the actual wax exhibits. Barack Obama is white. Michael Jackson is black. Whitney Houston looks like Bobby Brown. The whole display is creepy and just little bit scary. We leave abruptly. We need a drink.

 We decide our trip to the glitter strip isn’t complete without a Chinese banquet and head to the Focus Chinese Seafood Restaurant with our new-found friends, Cade, Caitlin, Shae, Grant and Maggie. Full of Peking duck, we decide to eschew a trip to the old haunts – Melba’s and Cocktails and Dreams – in favour of an early night. I go to sleep smug in the knowledge we’ve had a pretty tame night. Even my eye has almost returned to normal.

On Sunday morning I awake to find a game of Two-Up in last night’s handbag, a Meter Maid’s business card and bum muscles I didn’t know I had, courtesy of our bike ride. I ponder this as we board the Aquaduck for an amphibious adventure on the Broadwater. There’s no suspension on the vehicle and we bounce along the Esplanade, as do our boobs. Corina tells me to “get ducked”. I tell her to “duck off”. Back at Ripley’s Believe It or Not, Dame Alison sits near a farting man exhibit while the museum owner catches me stroking a male fertility statue. “Be careful, you’ll get pregnant,” he warns, before adding, “but of course you have to have sex to do that.” Just my luck to be the second woman in history to conceive by immaculate conception.  

 By the end of the weekend, I realise something I’d long forgotten. Surfers Paradise is tawdry, tacky and terrific, just like my friends. It will pick you up, twist you around, dance with you and gently put you back down. But dull? Never, ever.

 The Global Goddess travelled as a guest of The Outrigger, Surfers Paradise, whose carpet, she is pleased to report, remains intact and whose bathrooms are to be commended, in whichever room you may find yourself in a panic. To experience your own retro weekend, go to


Women and their Lovers


IT’S a Goldilocks afternoon in the Queensland capital. Not too hot, not too cold. Ferries glide across the Brisbane River like ballerinas, traffic crawls along the Riverside Expressway as an army of ants, and Spring is being one, gigantic flirt.

It’s perfect then, that I’ve gathered in the Queensland Library’s ‘Red Box’ for a Brisbane Writers’ Festival talk about ‘women and their lovers’. Like a passionate paramour itself, the title of the session is too irresistible to pass up. My first fear, however, is that they will ask the gathering of women (and a few good men) to confess, Alcoholics Anonymous style, how long it has been since their last lover and how many they’ve had. Does one need to have experienced a recent lover to be admitted to this saucy session, I wonder amid a moment of pure panic.

Our convivial host, a bloke, announces it’s a ‘clothing optional’ session, as the two guest authors dive headfirst into the subject at hand. What transpires on this wouldn’t-be-dead-for-quids type of afternoon, is an interesting conversation about whether humans are, in fact, meant to be monogamous. Are you always married to the one you love? Is it possible to have a marriage, and a lover, and for all three parties to be sated in every sense of the word?

At this point of the conversation my mind starts to wander, as it is prone to do. The prospect of finding one fella at the moment is hard enough, let alone two. But heck, I’d give it a go if it was on offer. As one of the authors muses “love is an individual thing”.

The host confesses about his own individual experience of first-time love. He was 15 and wanted to take a girl to the movies for the first time. His father’s advice was this: “You’ve got a penis, women have a vagina, don’t play with yourself too much as it’s not good for you, now let’s go back to the car.”

One of the authors muses that in the English language, we possess a ‘shrunken’ vocabulary when it comes to the topics of physical pain and love. There are not enough words to express the many kinds of human love possible. It’s a bit like death. We’re hopeless at articulating it. To say that someone has ‘passed on or away’ sounds ridiculous, like they’ve taken a holiday to Myanmar or something; ‘passed’ raises its own set of silly questions: “passed where, exactly?”; and to come flat out and say someone ‘died’ is a bit blunt. But it’s true. Real. Honest.

Death and love, it emerges during this lusty afternoon, have much in common. One of the authors reveals research in which it is claimed it takes exactly 2 years, 6 months and 25 days into a marriage for romance between a couple to die.

So is there such a thing as living happily ever after? Does the fairytale, like my Goldilocks afternoon, really exist?

Outside, pondering this in the late afternoon spring sunshine which is still being such a fabulous flirt, I stumble across a lone musician, dressed all in red.

Love, as we understand it, may not exist after all, but I think I’ve just stumbled across Little Red Riding Hood. And for now, that’s fairytale enough for me.

The sex goddess returns

I ARRIVED late, in the midst of a ferocious tropical storm. I was the only person on the bus which was carrying me deeper into the jungle. My friendly Malaysian driver dropped me off in the dark, the torrential rain soaking me to the skin, with the warning: “watch out for snakes, as they are always watching you.” Great, I thought, he could have said “men” instead of “snakes” but it was not to be on this particular evening.

I took my first tentative steps towards the dim light somewhere in the distance…and promptly broke my sandals. Now I was drenched, barefoot, and in the midst of a potential snake pit in a tropical thunderstorm in the dark and rather alone.

Sliding on the slippery path, I eventually made my way to the light which turned out to be a cafe where I grabbed a beer, and sat out the storm. Upon leaving, I saw what looked like a lovely little green tree snake. “Don’t move,” one of the Malaysian cafe owners called out. “It’s a deadly viper, and it can kill you in seconds.”

I was reminded today of my trip to Kuching last November when I found the first evidence of Spring on my back deck. A snake skin. Now, I have a bit of an Indiana Jones relationship with snakes. They scare me, and always have. It goes right back to when we were kids in country Queensland and come summer, our backyard was full of poisonous king browns. My parents, being tough-love 1970s types, offered us little comfort: “If you see a snake, you freeze like a statute and you call out ‘mum’ and then you keep watching it so we know where it’s gone.” And then dad, who is a bit of a Steve Irwin, would march up to the deadly serpent, grab it, bag it and dump it on the farm to eat the rats. Lizards, on the other hand, I love. They’ve got legs.

So, it came as quite a shock one night a few years back when I was having a barbecue on my beloved back deck to feel all the hackles on my neck rise, in that really creepy fashion jsut before something bad’s about to happen. I turned around and there she was, slithering down the railings. I decided it was time to conquer my fear and named my snake Anastascia, deciding she was my sex goddess, meaning whenever she made an appearance, things would improve in my bedroom, so to speak. And, miraculously they did.

I won’t go into details but suffice to say, we both had a wonderful summer. For the record, I’m not alone in my thinking. Just this week, a Townsville couple went to the media with their story about two pythons copulating in their ceiling. According to Ron Degenhart: “You and your missus could be going hammer and tongs in the bedroom, while the snakes are going at it upstairs as well.”

Yes, things were going great guns for me, until the night Anastascia died. It was a scorching February night and I was laying in bed, clad only in undies and a singlet, drinking wine (yes, I know how to party).  I heard what I thought were two possums fighting right outside my bedroom window. And then “boom!”, my neighbour Dave – a bit of a bogan – burst through my front gates and leapt down in front on my bedroom windows, grabbing a massive python which was in the process of eating his cat. I stood there, a little tipsy if I have to admit it, in my undies and singlet, glass of wine still firmly in hand, watching in slow-motion as Dave wrestled the cat from the snake’s mouth. It was Anastascia having dinner. Dave screamed “it bit me, it bit me”, the cat went flying into the night, and Dave stood before me, snake dangling from his hands. For the record the cat, not the snake, had bitten Dave.

The only words I could mutter were “you’re not leaving that snake here” and thus, Anastascia met an untimely death. (Which, for the record, is a great shame as Anastascia was the Indigenous species in this scenario, not the cat, but circumstances had already spiralled beyond my control).

Around the same time, my summer of sex abruptly stopped. So, it was with pure delight that I found my new snake skin this week. I’ve called her Sylvia. I haven’t see her yet, and Dave and his cat have since moved on. But I’m certainly looking forward to a long, hot, summer.



A few good men

AMONG all the dud dates and absolute disasters, it’s prudent every now and then to focus on the good things, and given tomorrow is Father’s Day in Australia, I’m reminded of all the good men in my life. Those who have shaped and supported me (a little like a wonder bra), who tell me when I’m talking rubbish (which is often) and who love me regardless.

And so, I present my Top Ten Men (in no particular order):

1. Nelluloid- my second oldest male friend, we met in Year 9 maths where we shared with each other what little we knew about sex. Which was nothing. I knew even less about maths. Nelluloid is frustrating, always late, and a shocking communicator once he leaves your sight. He is also the first person I’d call if I were ever locked in a prison and needed bail, if someone close to me died, or a relationship ends. He would give me the shirt off his back and has been known to wear one or two items of my clothing in public on occasion.

2. Mr Man – another of my oldest male friends, we met while working as journalists in a newsroom. We share a love of travel, although we’ve never travelled together, and an intense dislike to working for a living. We communicate daily on several pressing points, such as whether green is the new black. We share a dream of marrying an incredibly older rich man who promptly dies and leaves us his fortune. Mr Man says he will sleep with anyone for $1 million, so Rupert Murdoch, if you are reading this, I can arrange a meeting. My price tag is slightly higher.

3. Thorn – we met at work 10 years ago, firmly became great mates and even better mates the day they sacked our entire team. We share a love of dodgy pubs, cheap pub grub and bad boys. In his spare time Thorn is a show girl, and I am a show off. We share a love of words and a common dream to one day write a best-selling novel that doesn’t involve wizards or whips.


4. Tacky – Twas Tacky who suggested I write this piece, so I figure he should make it into the Top Ten. Tacky and I met only a few years back and clicked. Unlike most Americans, Tacky is softly-spoken and doesn’t think the United States is the centre of the universe. He is, however, likely to tell me when I’m being a fool, which is often, and appreciated. Anyone married to Mrs Tacker can’t be all that bad.

5. Howie – my first love and oldest male friend. We met in Grade One at our country Queensland primary school. Howie was the first, and still one of the few men, who had the courage to ask me to dance. He was blond and shy and cute. We lost touch over the years but recently caught up again. He hasn’t changed. Howie says I talk much more than he remembers from back in the 1970s.

6. Honourable mentions: Surfie; Dan; Chris; Herde; Jimmy; Jimmy; Denny; RyanAir; Jamie; Brenton; Bruce; Ash; Jake; Franzipani; Gerry; Tommy; Mr May; Dicky; Larder, Timmy, Bryan (and apologies to anyone I’ve forgotten)

7. The man of my dreams (or Hugh Jackman)- according to Michael Buble, I just haven’t met you yet. When I do, I’m sure you will make the Top Ten.

8. My great, great grandfather Christian – you left Europe on a three-month boat journey (yes, I’m a boat person), with your wife back in the 1860s to avoid religious persecution and to build a better life for your family. Five generations later here I am, living in the Lucky Country. Thank you for imbuing in me a sense of adventure and wonderment at the world.

9. My grandfather, James – You may have died 20 years ago, but I love that you introduced me to the great Australian poets. How you would recite Lawson and Paterson to our young ears, with a twinkle in your Irish eyes. How you used to line up seven glasses of softdrink for your seven grandchildren and ensure we each received an equal amount of the fizzy stuff.


10. My father – We have a complex relationship which I have never quite mastered. You are a strong disciplinarian, a perfectionist and a critic. You are also the man who sent his family on holidays to the beach every Christmas while you worked to keep us going. We never went without food or shelter. Happy Father’s Day.