The World Around Us

Christmas 2004

Country: Australia by Lisette


On Christmas Eve I chose to attend a service at the Cathedral of St. Stephens in Brisbane. The service was of course quite similar to a Christmas service in the Netherlands. The major difference was in the adornments of the Cathedral.

In my hometown Weert, it became tradition (starting in the ‘90s) to have a huge nativity scene with several live sheep and other animals as well as hundreds of life size stuffed animals in the Saint Martinus Church. It has been considered the largest nativity scene in Europe in the past and has been visited by more than a 50,000 visitors. (Due to the economic recession the foundation had to cancel the event in recent years.)


I had promised myself a trip to the beach on Christmas Day and indeed I went! Close to Brisbane is world famous Surfers Paradise that is part of Australia’s “Gold Coast”. Unfortunately, I wasn’t swept away by it. It felt as paradise was built over and commercialization took over. In a nutshell this is what happened to Surfers’: in the sixties it belonged to the surfers, in the seventies to the hippies. Backpackers discovered the place in the eighties and the nineties was the golden decade for real estate.

On Boxing Day I went to visit Avis and Barry again and joined them for a service at the Apostolic Church of Queensland. As the Church would like to keep traditions alive, churchgoers are requested to uphold clothing styles. For example, men all wore a tie or even a bowtie, and women wore a long dress or skirt and a beautiful hat. I was lucky that I could borrow stuff from Avis, because I certainly wasn’t well prepared with my backpacking clothes!

We further visited the Railway Museum & Workshops, an amazing, largely unknown depository with original steam locomotives. It is of special interest to Barry who worked for over 40 years with Rail Australia. People in the workshops work only with original machinery and restore the locomotives to safe, working machinery. We were wandering around here for more than 3 hours and we still didn’t have the chance to see it all!