All Under The Place – 7 Nov, Gold Coast, Australia

This is our last week here in Australia filming ‘All Over The Place’ (can hardly believe I’m writing those words. I’ve been here so long they ought to give me citizenship), and for most of this week we’re staying in pretty much the same area, The Gold Coast.

At one time it was obviously a beautiful stretch of unbroken sandy beach and dunes but now, particularly where we’re staying in the Surfer’s Paradise area, it feels a bit like a spruced up Benidorn. Towers of hotels and flats sit right beside the beach whilst, a few blocks back, traffic thunders up and down the road. It still manages to have a certain charm though, and we all enjoyed our 2 days off here. I was especially pleased that I got to visit some old friends in Brisbane and took their speedboat for a bit of a spin up the river. Last time I saw them was just over 2 and a half years ago when I was helping to dig mud out of their house after the Brisbane flood.

This morning we headed out just over the Queensland/New South Wales border to ‘Tropical Fruit World’. It’s a sort of low key theme park for fruit. An enterprising farmer 40 years back decided he wanted to grow as many tropical fruits in one place as he could, and they now have over 500 varieties. I’d never heard of most of them, and our guide Mal took us through the sun drenched orchards and introduced us to Chocolate Pudding Fruit, Dragon Fruit and a weird little aniseed like African berry that coats your mouth in a reside that then affects your taste buds. The result is that when you bite into something sour it tastes sweet. Mal gave me half a lemon and I ate the entire thing, including some of the skin. It tasted like the most delicious orange I’d ever had. Such a strange sensation.

Once we’d sampled some of their lovely fresh avocados for lunch we headed down to the beach to meet an Aboriginal called John. He makes didgeridoos, and was tasked with teaching Iain and I how to play them. When I was a kid in the 90s there always seemed to be one lying round someone’s house and I had managed to get a note out of one in the past, so I was quite pleased that I managed to intermittently look like I knew what I was doing in between blowing raspberries.

Sitting on the rocks in my summer clothes as the waves lapped around us it began to dawn on me that, although I am excited beyond words at the prospect of getting home and seeing my loved ones, a cold wet English winter awaits me in less than 7 days…

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