I’ve been meaning to get to the coast for ages now, since I got back to Brisbane in July, but haven’t quite managed it yet. Even though my favoured Sunshine Coast is only 90 minutes or so away it always seems like a trip you have to start early in the morning to make a day of it. Yesterday, I struck a happy medium by going to the beach in the Brisbane suburb/township of Redcliffe.
The weather cooperated, with clear blue skies and 30+° temps. There are a couple of different ways to get to Redcliffe from Brisbane and I chose the slightly longer route that meant less turns and checks of the street directory. It took less than an hour and neither traffic nor parking was a problem (Sunday parking is free and unlimited time). My parents had told me of a place called Sutton’s Beach that has great fish’n’chips. Since no trip to the beach is complete without fish’n’chips, that was my first port of call.
The place in question is called Sam’s on Sutton and was doing a roaring trade. Lots of families out enjoying the sun and getting takeaway to eat in the shade. After making my order, I staked out a table in the shade and took in the view. I also spotted a drink I haven’t had in years. Anyone who says SARS hasn’t reached Australian shores is a deadset liar (Ok, that was the last bad joke).
A word to the wise when ordering fish’n’chips at Sam’s: don’t order the family size chips ($5) unless there are at least four of you, maybe five. I thought I was hungry, but the portion was massive. I swear I used to eat that much as a kid. I must admit I went a little crazy and ordered a couple of potato scallops as well, not to mention a Chiko Roll. Anyone who’s wondering what’s in a Chiko Roll, I took a photo of the insides, but I’m still not able to determine the ingredients (apart from something which may be carrot). Either way, after you’ve eaten one, you need to drink about a litre of water to equalize the salt now in your system.
The food was very good (although my piece of snapper was a little tough), but there was just too much of it. Stupidly, I ate too much to be able to squeeze in an ice-cream and considering how hot it was, this was a mistake. Instead, I went for a walk along the beach. Redcliffe has no surf to speak of, but a very long beach with flat water that stays shallow for quite some distance out from shore. This makes it perfect for young children to be able to play in the water without getting beaten up by surf, or getting out of their depth.
As I wandered along the beach, calf deep in water, I came across some of the local wildlife. The only thing that bothered me about the beach was the amount of broken glass lying around. Some had been there awhile as it was fairly smooth from the action of the salt water, but there were still plenty of sharp shards lying around which are a real danger. In just a 15 minute walk I found a fair amount to pick up and throw away (and practice my shadow puppetry).
A sign that said “Surfboards Prohibited” made me laugh considering there are more waves in a jacuzzi than there are at Sutton’s Beach.
Sunday was the men’s final at the Australian Open and I was hoping to find a pub to watch some of the match in. The first hotel I went to was a real local’s pub. There wasn’t a lot going on and there certainly wasn’t any tennis on the TV’s inside. Just TAB screens giving the updates of the horse and greyhound racing. I hadn’t seen another pub during my walk along Sutton’s Beach so I jumped back in the car, thinking I’d find another one fairly quickly down at the next beach. Four beaches later and still no pub. Where the hell was I? How can this be? Thinking the locals must prefer to drink their beer away from the sea I drove inland two streets and headed back the way I’d come. Still nothing! The first hotel could not have been the only pub in town, it was too crappy to be making the kind of money a lone pub must be making.
As it turned out, if I’d turned right instead of left when I first left Sutton’s Beach, I would have come across the main shopping area. A half block from the crappy pub there was the Ambassador Hotel (refurbished, so much nicer than the photos on that site), another crappy hotel, a fancy cocktail bar, a Hog’s Breath Cafe, a steak house and an ice-cream parlour. By now I was pretty darn thirsty and missing a significant part of the tennis. But I was choosy, going into each of these places before settling on the Ambassador. Unfortunately, there was no sound on the telly and I had to watch Federer make short work of Safin while some bloke with a mullet belted out Bon Jovi tunes in front of his one middle-aged groupie.
All-in-all, Redcliffe is a great day out. So close to Brisbane that you can even wait until the afternoon to get there and still enjoy a day at the beach. There’s plenty of shaded play areas for the kids, as well as a patrolled beach so you don’t have to be watching the little nippers in the water every second. There’s plenty of other eateries if fish’n’chips isn’t your thing, just leave enough room for the massive ice-creams.