Christmas spent with family on the Queensland coast is rather different from our usual festivities down south.
For a start, there’s the rain. Incessant rain.
Down in Melbourne we’re accustomed to four-seasons-in-one-day squalls and showers, but this is serious, no kidding, beware-of-floodwaters-type rain. Whilst no cyclones are predicted to make landfall in southern Queensland next week, neither is the rain expected to let up any time soon.
Shopping malls are jam-packed – on Christmas Eve, we simply abandoned attempts to find a parking spot at two – and we no longer envy the ‘grey nomads’ foresighted enough to have secured beachfront campsites, now huddled in vans and dripping tents. Foot traffic is scant along the Esplanade in Mooloolaba, the coffee shops and beachwear boutiques all but deserted.
Of course the Webers (barbecues) are working overtime, as you’d expect, but seafood feasts seem to be a distinct tradition here. Ahead of the big day, the local paper prognosticates on prawn prices, then the telly shows us glimpses of long lines of people queueing to stock up on crayfish, fresh prawns, Moreton Bay bugs, Pacific oysters and all the trimmings. The storekeepers, we read, have been working 18-hour days in the lead up to the festive season.
At Christmas lunch we, too, start with fresh oysters, then tuck into Sashimi tuna and a bowl piled high with fat, pink prawns (a treat rarely, if ever, indulged down south). After lunch, the kids are again engrossed in their new arsenal of boom-boom-boom weaponry, but soon the adults slip out for a walk in the rain in muggy 25-degree conditions and a welcome dip in the murky, choppy surf. It’s Christmas, after all.
Some pix of the Coast – in better weather!