Monday, March 15, 2010

Fair Dinkim Adventures

Part of the reason for my lack of recent posts was a terrific six week visit from my Mom. We had such a great time together and I was very sad to see her go home. And no - not just because she felt the need to do 3 or 4 loads of laundry a day or because she insisted on making my kids' lunches for school - she was my partner in adventure!

The dictionary defines adventure as "an exciting or very unusual experience." Well, we certainly went some unusual places and made our own excitement. More importantly, we shared quite a few laughs along the way.

Ipswich - Ipswich is a city just outside of Brisbane. We actually ended up there by accident. My GPS wasn't working that day and I'd just missed the turn-off for the second time to check out New Farm (one of Brisbane's suburbs). Driving down the wrong road, we saw a sign for Ipswich. It was like a beacon calling out to us, inviting us to go somewhere new. We thought - why not? After about 45 minutes, I pulled over at the Ipswich Tourist Information booth. The ladies there seemed very excited to have some Canadian visitors (in hindsight I think they were just happy to have any visitors at all to Ipswich!) Coral, one of the tourist info ladies, seemed extremely intent on getting us to go to Queens Park to see the bilbies (some kind of marsupial that looks like a cross between a rat and a rabbit). I'm sorry, but when a "ratbit" is your main draw you really need to start upgrading your town's attractions! I asked whether there was a cute shopping district. Coral seemed somewhat flustered at first by the question (could have been my accent) but recommended a visit to Brisbane Street. Looking back, we should have noted her hesitation and gotten out of dodge. However, the guide magazine we picked up described the area as a "lovely precinct," a "treasure on your doorstep," with "funky cafes, original heritage architecture, and an array of shopping delights." Deciding to skip the bilbies and instead check out the shopping we found a parking spot and started walking. We had passed a somewhat sketchy looking section of the street looking for a place to park, so we decided to walk in the opposite direction. After a few blocks lacking in any "treasures" I decided to ask someone where the shopping precinct was located. They pointed back up towards the block we had purposefully avoided. Apparently "funky" and "delights" mean something different to Ipswichians - like a parole office and an adult sex shop. We did check out the strip of stores (skipping the "Love Shop" - my Mom said she didn't want to have to explain anything to me... ) to see if we had missed something worthwhile. Let's just say... we should have gone to see the bilbies!

Mom with her stuffed bilbie!

Fair Dinkim Bargain Store

"Fair Dinkim" is Aussie slang for "genuine" or "true". I haven't heard an Australian throw this term into an actual conversation but some stores seem to think it's funny to use it in their advertising. After escaping Ipswich's seedy shopping district we came across Fair Dinkim Bargains. It seems that what Ipswich lacks in quaint shopping it makes up for in bargain stores. If you know my mom and I, you know about our love for a good dollar store! I'm not sure that Fair Dinkim Bargains was quite up to my Dollarama standards (there were things over $2.00) but it was as close as I've found so far. Plus, "fair dinkim" is a term that just makes you giggle. Go ahead, say it a few times and try not to smile! (We also found a salon called "Hair Dinkim". That made us laugh too but I don't think we would've let them touch our hair!)

Wet n' Wild - The kids really wanted to show Granny one of their favourite amusement parks here - Wet n' Wild. My mom was willing to give it a go even though water parks aren't necessarily her favourite thing. Last summer, my mom and I took all the kids to Sylvan Lake's water slide in Alberta. She was brave enough to try a ride with the older kids but fell off her tube and ended up getting crashed into by the woman behind her. After that I think her favourite ride there was the hot tub. In an attempt to break her in gradually, I suggested that we start at Calypso Beach. All you had to do there was lounge on a tube and let the river take you around a gentle winding course. She liked that. Then, Jack wanted her to try Mammoth Falls. Mammoth Falls is a giant tube that 5 or 6 people climb into and ride down a series of water falls. I was a bit worried about my mom's ability to climb up the tower stairs, get in and out of the tube, and how well she'd enjoy a ride that makes you feel like you could tip over at any moment. She loved it! O.k., maybe "love" is too strong a word, but she was laughing for the majority of the ride! Seizing on her excitement, I then dragged her to the River Rapids ride. The kids and I had been on it before and it seemed pretty mild. As a bonus, I remembered that there were no stairs to climb. Unfortunately, I forgot about the big hill you had to scale instead. Part way up my mom offered to skip the ride, but I told her it'd be fine. After finally making it to the top, Caitlyn decided that she wanted to go in one of the covered tubes, and she wanted Granny to go with her. Jack and I opted for our usual open-air slide. Well, who knew that the closed tubes were faster than the open ones? I guess if they don't have to worry about you shooting out the side, they can make you go as fast as possible. My mom was the last one down and I would have loved to have had a camera to capture the look of sheer terror! She shot out of the tube, panicked slightly before realizing the water was only up to her waist, and then gave me "the look." Somehow I knew that I'd better not take her on the Kamikaze next. Though it took her a bit to stop trembling, we had a great afternoon getting wet and wild! I'm sure she'd agree - right mom???

Jumble Sale - While driving past one of the churches near our house, my Mom got all excited. The sign read "Jumble Sale, Wed. 9:15 a.m." I personally have never heard of a jumble sale but apparently in my mom's English mystery novels they're a common occurrence. Perhaps she envisioned herself on Antique Roadshow showing off a vase she'd bought at the jumble sale for pennies and worth thousands, or just for the heck of it - whatever the reason, my mom thought we'd better check this sale out. So, after dropping the kids off at school, we arrived at the church ahead of schedule. There was already a line forming. This was serious business! We took our place in line. My mom chatted with the elderly ladies behind us (who kept inching their walkers forward - ready to make the dash when the doors opened!) Meanwhile, I was deciding on strategy - mom was to check out any furniture and I would head for any mirrors or wall hangings. Our neighbourhood is pretty affluent so we were expecting great things. Well, while I did get Caitlyn a couple of books and a skirt for $2.50, the only thing priceless was the look on our faces when we saw the hall. It was a jumble alright - a jumble of crap! Nothing was sorted and the majority of stuff was still shoved in boxes. Even though we didn't find any treasures, our morning at the jumble sale was rich with laughter.

We had lots of other adventures too. My mom pulling out Jack's first tooth on the beach at Tangalooma, getting knocked over by the waves at Byron Bay, doing the Rainforest Skywalk in the Tamborine Mountains (actually more of a skyrun than walk since Caitlyn turned out to be afraid of heights and bugs), avoiding the giant lizards running around our feet at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, and so many more fun memories. I can't wait till my mom comes back!

So, if you come to visit us here in Brisbane I promise to take you to all the touristy spots and even the not so touristy ones. And if it's laughter you're looking for, there's a fair dinkim chance we'll find it!


  1. A good read. As you know, anything Australian is bonzer in my books, as long as it's not hard yakka to read. And your reading style is indeed smooth-flowing. I like the look of the page, but I would have to suggest tweaking the colours just a tiny bit into real dinky-di Aussie green and gold...And of course, make sure you go to Melbourne, if you haven't already. Don't be scared off because it's not really hot with a distinctive skyline like Sydney. Lots of heritage architecture there; much more than Sydney, apparently. }>

  2. Hilarious and a great read Jen! Your mum sounds a lot like mine who arrives in Geneva day after tomorrow for 3 months. She, too, joins in all of our adventures and I love having her with us (again nothing at all to do with the 3 or 4 loads of laundry a day she does). x