Blog : brisbane

Tooth grumps, treatment options sagas and a lot of changing plans; then a magical place on the very glorious Mount Glorious.

Tooth issues kind of took centre stage over a lot of the past week. It started on Wednesday evening, the night we got back from driving around Byron and the Gold Coast in a rented Jucy van (which was utterly fabulous). My head hurt, I was feverish, my cheek swollen – hello tooth infection. My usual, very effective remedy of bee propolis did not seem to be doing the job and a fair bit of internet-induced scaremongering over how an infection can travel to the jaw bone and cause all kinds of drama had me calling dentists pronto.

The first dentist in a clinic called Calm Dental in New Farm was helpful but delivered some rather unwelcome news – the x-ray showed my infection was up high in the root and my only options were extraction or root canal. I was not a happy puppy. Out of the two the root canal seemed to be the least horrible so I made an appointment for Sunday morning to have the procedure done.

Back home (an apartment we found on AirBnB which turned out to be absolutely fabulous and which belonged to a lovely and very kind guy called Hitesh), I went on the great world wide web and googled root canal. It was not the reassuring, heart-warming picture I had hoped for. Studies linking root canals to all kinds of horrific diseases from arthritis to cancer and a million more. Apparently the root canal procedure includes cleaning out the main nerve canal but not the little connecting smaller network of channels which are impossible to get to. Many were claiming this trapped an infection underneath the filling in an area with very little blood supply which the body could use to heal. The remaining dead tooth is apparently a cause for stress on the immune system as the body does its best to reject it. As anything on the internet there were also many claiming this was utter nonsense, that the body could deal with bacteria and that the dead tooth caused absolutely no drama. The same people however admitted that root canals were successful around 90% of the time and could then fail a couple of years after the original procedure which to me hinted strongly towards the body dealing with the trapped infection and also trying to reject the dead tooth. I’m no dentist or doctor but I read both sides of the story and emerged not very happy with the root canal route.

The uncertainty around treatment options, far too much reading on the internet and a somewhat swollen cheek took a toll on my mental state. My mostly cheerful self was worried, irritable and generally not a joy to be around. I was feeling confused, felt I did not have any good options to choose from and was worried about the cost of dental treatment on our travel budget. Grump, grump, grump.

Happy break on Mount Coot-that.
Happy break on Mount Coot-tha

Despite tooth dramas we had some really lucky strikes in Brisbane. The room we found on AirBnB for 50$ a night turned to a whole apartment as Hitesh, the owner was leaving for Sydney for the weekend, Gayle’s friend Kristina and her girlfriend Annie very kindly lent us their car for the week which meant we had wheels to visit dentists, get food and generally be mobile without any hassle or cost whatsoever.

Gayle did a wonderful job coping with Ms grumpy knickers aka me. She helped calm me down, researched options with me and pulled me out of those woe is me moments when I wanted to hide in the bathroom till it was all over (yes I do sometimes have a taste for the dramatic 🙂). Big big amounts of gratitude for her wonderfulness. Unfortunately Gayle became poorly on day two of tooth saga, leaving us to contend with a little more. I tried my best to be calm and supportive but had waves of success and failure in view of my not so tranquil state of mind.

Health issues aside we still managed to go for several drives in the outskirts of Brisbane (including a Eucalyptus leaf collecting mission near Brisbane zoo), enjoy Kristina’s band practice, visit Eat Street markets (Friday and Saturday from 4pm to 10pm in Portside Wharf. This was a fabulous space with numerous shipping containers turned food stalls which made food from all around the globe. Yummy food, live music and far too many people. Definitely worth a visit nice and early.), West End Markets on Saturday and the Northey Street City Farm organic market Sunday which were all absolutely fabulous experiences.

Sweet potato with cottage cheese
Sweet potato with a purple inside. Oven baked and stuffed with cottage cheese.
Sweet potato was bought from West End Markets on Saturday morning: huge variety of fresh veg including a really good selection of organic produce, along with food and artisan stalls. Very impressed with the organic corn on the cob and sweet potatoes grown to music in Mullimbimby. No idea how it all works but I can vouch for absolutely incredible taste and texture of both. We ate the sweet corn raw and it was by far the sweetest, juiciest corn I have ever tasted.

My tooth dramas were finally sorted at Dental Wellness, a holistic dental practice. From the word go they were wonderful: a young, reassuring dentist who happily answered my million questions, a consult from the head dentist who showed me the x-ray and where my infection was at, explained how a root canal works, explained the ins and outs of having an extraction and also offered option three to keep me going until I got home.

Getting my tooth sorted at Dental Wellness.
Getting my tooth sorted at Dental Wellness.

The chosen option included cleaning out the infection as far as possible, injecting the canal with antibiotic and calcium hydroxide which would keep cleaning out and fighting the infection from the inside and putting on a filling. This should hopefully keep me going until Malta when I’m sadly going to have the tooth out and replaced with a ceramic implant. Having the tooth out whilst travelling would have left me with too much of a gap time wise to be able to have an implant which fused to the bone so this temporary option works much better for me. Finally resolution!

 

The cottage at Highgate hill
With my tooth finally sorted but Gayle still very much poorly, we wanted a calm, private space to hole up for two days. We found this beautiful cottage in Highgate Hill on AirBnB and although well off our usual budget (we mistook the euro price for dollars, oops) was a great experience. Wooden cottage surrounded by rainforest, hammock and rocking chair in the front porch, a little kitchen to prepare our food, and great conversation with the lovely owners Mike and Anne who live right next door.

 

Front porch at the cottage on Highgate Hill
Front porch at the cottage on Highgate Hill

Prior to my tooth issues, Gayle had planned to go to Bali to do her silent meditation practice at the end of February. That date got stretched until the 1st as we returned our van a day late, then until she felt I was ok with my tooth issues and then again as she was unwell. Communication with her meditation teacher was sketchy leaving her mulling about possibly doing the practice in Australia rather than fly to Bali in the little time left.

Driving back from the cottage Gayle suggested a visit to Mount Glorious to check out a possible location for her meditation practice if she did decide to stay in OZ. We drove up a winding road surrounded by lush rainforest and cool mountain air. In our search of this place Gayle turned into a drive way which led to a beautiful house surrounded by forest and a guy playing with a sizeable remote controlled off road car.

I waited in the car till Gayle asked about the location of the place, then finally followed her after she had disappeared for some time. I walked a little further to stairs leading to a gorgeous wooden house with massive windows and a front deck overlooking the forest. I walked in as Gayle was coming to get me and met Sascha, the owner who had another little house nearby which would be just right for Gayle.

Although the little house was beyond perfect, Gayle finally went to Bali yesterday evening and it turned out Sascha needed marketing help with an art playground business she runs with her partner. Cue the perfect situation for Greta. Embracing the wonderful opportunities thrown right at my feet I am currently staying in an absolutely amazing house filled with the prettiest lights which Sascha collects from all over, laid back Swedish furniture, vintage clothes, tons of veg, big, big windows overlooking the forest and a delightful, engaging host who is so happy I can help out with her work. I could not have ordered a more magical place if I tried.

More soon xxxxx

 

View from the front terrace
View from the front terrace at Sascha’s Mount Glorious house

 

Windy passage way to the house. Looking forward to an amazing, productive week.
Windy passage way to the house. Looking forward to an amazing, productive week.

 

 

Brisbane

Brisbane

Sunrise colours at 5am after being woken up just at the right moment by the Duty Manager. Sleeping on a lounger by the pool was absolutely magic (and apparently against the rules), especially waking up at the perfect time to watch the night change to day.
Sunrise colours at 5am after being woken up just at the right moment by the Duty Manager at the Brisbane City Backpackers. Sleeping on a lounger by the pool was absolutely magic (and apparently against the rules), especially waking up at the perfect time to watch the night change to day.

Coming to Brisbane was more of a logistical decision than a conscious choice. Gayle was doing some networking at a festival close-by and the crew was all flying to Brisbane so I thought, why not? I booked the flight back from New Zealand (oh yes, I went to NZ unexpectedly for two weeks, but that’s a whole other story) to Brisbane and decided to consult Mr Lonely Planet on the plane so I could get the lowdown on Brisbane’s best. Airport time in Brisbane was totally painless as the ‘declare your animal products, fruit, nuts, seeds and boots used out about’ security person decided that we were not bringing doom to Australia and waved us through without the usual bag checks and questions. Success. We (not the royal plural – party consisted of Gayle and I together with Rita, Jules and Selena, all members of the Luminate festival exec committee) all bundled into a large van taxi and headed towards Bowen Terrace in New Farm. The taxi driver kept us entertained (and at times a little exasperated) with tragically lame jokes and a million silence-filling questions about everything and nothing in a true taxi driver fashion. He went through a portfolio of veggie, tree hugger and New Zealand jokes catered specifically for his audience however our post travel, pre food, collective selves were not playing ball and he kept getting silence, though this seemed to not affect his enthusiasm.

Sitting under a tree in my new portable shade - essential survival kit for traipsing in the scorching sun.
Sitting under a tree in my new portable shade – essential survival kit for traipsing in the scorching sun.

Digs and Backpackers survival lessons Bowen Terrace accommodation was simple but pretty. A converted old house with dorms, single, double or queen rooms which take up to three people. Not too expensive ($89 Ozzie dollars for the double room), comfortable and kitted out perfectly (good quality linen and extra blankets, crockery and cutlery and a small fridge in each room, the place made for a great base. Maria, the manager, did a great job of making sure things run smoothly and filled the place with info with what’s on and what to do, tourist info and cute little signs that give detailed instructions to just about everything. Being a bit far from the city centre and South Bank, I first thought the location was a little cut off but I since learnt about the Powerhouse (an old, you guessed it, Power House, converted into a stunning theatre and exhibition space which hosts a lot of the ongoing theatre and dance productions in the city) and The Valley (home to clubs and bars and apparently a couple of indie places), both really close to Bowen Terrace. The neighbourhood is also home to some great-looking restaurants and cool bar / bistro type places that have made the effort. Coupled with the up-market / suburban feel of the residential buildings, New Farm can make a super great base for a somewhat refined Brisbane experience. After Gayle and the crew left for Earth Freak I decided to move to a more central, more social and more budget friendly accommodation of the Backpackers (hostel) type. Online reviews led me to the YHA which I only spent one night at due to the general stiffness and lack of interaction between people inside. Stiffness aside, the YHA is clean, secure and well planned out, with What’s On calendars and really patient front desk staff. Backpackers version two was the slightly more raw Brisbane City Backpackers. Just two doors down from the YHA. This one was a lot more lively though still clean and well kept. Security does not seem to be the place’s strong point after my food bag was stolen right out of the common fridge, apparently by a stranger who walked in off the street. Being completely green on the whole backpacker survival guide I left my food visible, accessible and in an organic shop carrier bag which obviously made it stand out from the crowd. Must brush up on my survival skills or I’ll go hungry. Aside from the challenges of food thieves, communal kitchens shared with a million students cooking noodles, spaghetti and MSG-laden Asian concoctions which do not always appear edible, trying to find an unoccupied corner for your rucksack in a typical messy teenager bedroom occupied by 5 such messy teenagers (and one messy post post teenager – me) and attempting to quietly make your way across a pitch black room peppered with clothes/ shoes / random crockery and clamber up to the top bunk without waking up the whole dorm; I’m quite enjoying the whole backpacker experience. I’ve met some great people from all over the globe, found willing companions for city explorations and managed to live well on a tight budget. Happy puppy. Brisbane explorations and some (mis) adventures Being in the city for a couple of days with the luxury of no prior plans I did a bit of reading here and there, asked around a bit and put together a list of must visits for my time here. Having a very compact centre concentrated around the main river, Brisbane is very walkable (though the heat is sometimes a bit much) and also has the luxury of a free City Hopper ferry that goes up and down river.

The city from the City Hopper, fabulous free ferry transport along the river.
The city from the City Hopper, fabulous free ferry transport along the river.

The City Hopper is an absolute gem, serving as transport and also a great way to see the city centre from the water both by day and by night; totally for free. I did the full City Hopper route after dark one evening together with Hannah, a German girl I met about an hour earlier at dinner. We marvelled at the pretty sights, expressed disappointment at the Christmas-tree-green lighting of the main bridge and randomly gate-crashed an engagement do on south pier. Sadly our not very engagement-do appropriate attire had us quickly sussed out by the groom-to-be who booted us out of his event. Adventures continued for Greta as a flip-flop folding incident on the way home ended in me sprawled headlong in the middle of a street (with a full line-up of cars as an audience), and a resulting bruised and bloody big toe which was thankfully the only casualty.

An artsy lizard hanging out by one of the gallery cafés
An artsy lizard hanging out by one of the gallery cafés

My favourite haunt by far was the Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) where I got to see a fabulous exhibition by Cai Guo-Qiang (as well as learn about him and his very interesting history with Brisbane Art Gallery AND learn to pronounce his name) called Falling Back to Earth, a grounded, nature-focused set of three artworks which were visually impressive, thought provoking and for me rather emotional. I have to confess I was not at all familiar with any of Cai’s work and was fully awed by his vision for massive artworks (especially his gunpowder and firework pieces) as well as courage to attempt such ground-breaking, risky projects (some of which went quite wrong).

The watering hole from Falling Back to Earth
The watering hole from Falling Back to Earth

Aside from Cai’s exhibit, I also browsed a multi-artist collection called Everyday Magic, (all about seeing the magic in every day experiences and things), found Malta on a postcard which formed part of a world map made up of country names found on building signage in Brazil (random but fun) and watched two free great foreign films in an absolutely stunning cinema (Manila – In the Claws of Light, a 1975 film about life in the Philippines under president Ferdinand Marcos through the story of Julio who travels to Manila in search of his love, Ligaya who was lured there by the promise of work and study and Ponyo, an animated Japanese film by Hayao Miyazaki about a goldfish with super powers who wants to become a human girl. The Queensland Museum, City State Library and Queensland Art Gallery are also part of the Cultural Centre (together with the GOMA), all fabulously free and full of wonders.

Everyday Magic
One of the great exhibits at the GOMA
Pretty water fans next to the Queensland Art Gallery
Pretty water fans next to the Queensland Art Gallery

Museums-aside, Brisbane has a great river-side walkway along which Brisbanites jog, bike, walk fast and generally act very active even during scorching temperatures. I found the city’s weekend markets sweet but a little unsatisfying (being a bit of a markets-addict I kind of explored a few), possibly because they were quite compact and somewhat missing the artisan / bric-a-brac / vintage feel that makes you hope for an unexpected find or a huge desire to eat each and every food item on display (a desire which Gayle and I have been known to fulfil completely on several occasions, only stopped by a lack of available interior food space or actually finding we’ve tried EVERYTHING (veggie) on offer). Sadly I seem to have missed the exciting sounding Davies Park Market (daviesparkmarket.com.au) which sounds very up my street. Oh well, there’s always next time.

The very climbable rocks at Kangaroo Point. I showed up with my shoes on a Monday evening and was kindly adopted by a group of climbers. A little nervous about not having climbed for over two months together with trying to not make a fool of myself, made for a little slow going but the two routes I climbed were a lot of fun and very satisfying. It was so good to be back on the rocks (photo best viewed with a tilted head :D)
The very climbable rocks at Kangaroo Point. I showed up with my shoes on a Monday evening and was kindly adopted by a group of climbers. A little nervous about not having climbed for over two months together with trying to not make a fool of myself, made for a little slow going but the two routes I climbed were a lot of fun and very satisfying. It was so good to be back on the rocks (photo best viewed with a tilted head :D)
Pole belaying. Being in central Brisbane, the rocks at Kangaroo Point are surrounded by railings which also make a handy belay point for the locals.
Pole belaying. Being in central Brisbane, the rocks at Kangaroo Point are surrounded by railings which also make a handy belay point for the locals.