I moved to Brisbane from Ohio, looking for interesting people and a bit of adventure. Through mutual friends, I was invited to what would be my first social gathering, something called “Pimms in the Park” as was stated on the Facebook invite. I was really looking forward to a nice day in the sun and the August forecast stated the weather would be partly sunny. Not fully converting Celsius to Fahrenheit, I assumed this meant t-shirt and jeans weather.
I travelled on my bike to New Farm Park, a long but beautiful half hour ride through the city. The contrast between the smooth river and sharp modern buildings is divided by the thin bike-path I rode on. Every once in a while, a gust of wind would hit the river, causing tiny droplets of water to splash and hit my ankles, which was truly a joy as the temperature began to rise. The bike path along the river edge is spectacular, one of my first and most special memories of Brisbane.
At noon the sun was just at its peak, and this was the moment I realised that black pants were a mistake. The glaring sun heated my jeans like a hot plate, and I found myself riding in any scraps of tree shade I could find along the way. It’s funny how you never truly appreciate wind until you’re near the equator. In the States, wind was more of a nuisance, something that ruined my hairstyle and embarrassingly blew up my clothes. In Australia it’s a god send. Every burst of cool wind hit my skin and lifted the heavy hair off my neck. In Australia, I love wind.
I showed up just as the festivities were getting under way. Friends brought blankets and baskets filled with various snack foods. A small plate of cheese and crackers and grapes were sent around as I layed on the corner of a blanket. Australian cheese is delicious, you probably already knew this. Having my first taste of camembert cheese was something to remember; and enjoying these new tastes with new friends felt rather poignant. The host brought out the Pimms and requested I have a taste.
Pimms, unbeknownst to me, is a sweet liquor often used in mixed drinks, mostly with fruit. The liquor was already poured into a container that made it look like a mixed fruit drink, which was incredibly appealing to me at the time. I immediately gulped down the first glass, picking out the lychees and eating them shortly after. It wasn’t until a few glasses later I realized this drink was more than it appeared.
I got up for a walk to hide my accidental intoxication. I went down to the center of the park, an area covered in flower beds ready to bloom in the spring. The park was covered in other outdoor enthusiasts, and I observed a group of young men playing a game I later learned was ‘Touch Footy’. The grass was incredibly soft and lush, I strolled around barefoot admiring the perfect stretch of green just on the outskirts of the city. I lay down for a moment to look at some of the clouds in the sky and before I knew it I had slipped into an afternoon nap.
I was awoken a few moments later by my friends, enjoying the passed out westerner they found in the garden. I recovered shortly after and ran back to the gathering for more cheese and crackers. The rest of the afternoon went by in a flash, and I was still there when most everyone else has decided to head home.
The remainder of my friends wanted to take the City Cat, a quick trip down the river to get back to home in time for dinner. I put my bike in the back of the Cat and took the front seat to soak in the view. The ride was smoother than I thought it would be, but the wind gave us a few waves that rocked the boat up and down the river. Passing under the bridge, I saw a group of people at the top top looking down at us. I waved childishly at them and to my surprise they all waved back. This group of tiny silhouettes that looked like figurines on a playset all said hello. The boat passed under the bridge and into the city just as the sun was setting. I grabbed a few quick pictures on my camera, but spent most of the time soaking it all in.
Before I was ready, we had reached our destination and I was back in my apartment. In awe of the beautiful city I was now living in, I had a tremendous memory for the cost of Pimms, cheese and a one way ticket on the City Cat. Since that day I’ve had more time to see more of Brisbane; eat at some wonderful restaurants and catch a movie in Southbank. Nothing really compares to my first experience in the city I now call home.