Country Walks and Poker (at last)

On Thursday, 24th January, we decided to drive up to Lamington National Park in the hope that by gaining altitude, we would lose heat. We got an early start and stopped en route for breakfast.

This place is popular with motor cyclists as it’s at the foot of the road up to the park which features long, smooth curves combined with multiple hairpin bends. It was interesting that the bikes represented here were one Ducati, one Harley, and three Royal Enfields. They are, of course, the new Indian manufactured Royal Enfields and not vintage British bikes.

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After breakfast, we headed up to Lamington. I pondered idly whether the park gave its name to the famous Australian cake. It turns out that they have a shared etymology. Both are, ultimately, named for the 8th Governor of Queensland, Lord Lamington.

We were planning on going into O’Reilly’s but stopped short to take a walk in the rainforest and down to a viewpoint over the valley below.


Although it’s only a short drive from the Gold Coast, there is a sense of wildness and isolation once you are in the forest.

dsc_0378After our walk, we carried on up to O’Reilly’s. The O’Reilly family were farming in the area when the National Park was first proclaimed in 1915, but they became nationally famous in 1937 for the part played by Bernard O’Reilly in finding a passenger aircraft that had crashed in the park and helping the two survivors back to safety. The story is related in an Australian TV movie, “The Riddle of the Stinson” and the replica plane built for that movie is on display there.

dsc_0558 After a pleasant wander around, we headed back home for dinner. We had identified a poker tournament that was taking place in a local pub, The Helensvale Tavern. Entry was AUD 22, about £12, so we decided we’d enter as our game is getting very rusty on this trip. Also, the pub had a special meal deal on Thursdays so we opted to eat there and check out the arrangements in advance of the tournament’s start at 7:00pm. The food was good, but the portion was enormous. If we eat there again, we’ll share a meal.

We registered for the tournament and, unusually, we were allowed to choose our own seats. In general, tournament organisers will perform a random draw to prevent any possible hint of collusion, or “bum-hunting” which means trying to get a seat near a weak player or simply avoiding players you know to be strong. Since we didn’t know anyone there and they didn’t know us, the seating was, in effect, still random for us anyway.

My rustiness shone through and I made a couple of bad decisions early on in the tournament, calling a bet when I should have folded. I was out in Level 6. Ishbel lasted a good bit longer than me but didn’t get close to the money. There were over 70 entries for the tournament so it looks like poker is alive and well on the Gold Coast.  We may try again to see if we can do better.


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