One month in Oz – 16. Infinity and the most stressful campervan return

Post 16 of a series detailing our Australian adventure. Access the full series here.

Before we left the gaudy amusements of Surfer’s Paradise for the business-like city of Brisbane, there was one more thing we had to do. I’d known that we had to do it ever since finding its bonkers website doing my holiday research. And so, on this sunny springtime morning, we decided to enter a dark labyrinth with very little idea of what to expect at an attraction called Infinity.

We prepared ourselves for the madness with tea and banana bread at Gloria Jean’s Coffees, an Australian institution that seems as popular as Costa or Starbucks over here but is much nicer and more genuine. From there it was a walk to the entrance of Infinity, which was little more than a sales counter with doors on either side in the middle of a shopping mall.

Infinity

The man behind the counter took our online-ordered tickets and gave us bright white gloves (very Michael Jackson) and ‘socks’ to go over our shoes, which he said would both protect the surfaces and glow under the UV lights. Accessories pulled on, we were told to go through a door.  When it shut behind us we were plunged into pitch blackness. We had no option but to feel around the room’s walls, unable to see either the room or each other.

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As someone who’s never considered themselves afraid of the dark, I found this experience of absolute, unpenetrable darkness surprisingly frightening. I clutched onto Steve so as not to get separated and he eventually found a wall that could be pushed open. Behind it and round a couple of dark corners we found another door, this one opening into the first of a succession of rooms filled with a vast variety of sensory stimulants. Exploding colours, flashing lights, moving patterns, repeating mirrors, unearthly sounds, pulsating music, freaky textures, uneven floors – the maze used every device possible for stimulating and disorientating the brain.

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We were fortunate enough to be alone almost 100% of the time, which allowed us to take a more leisurely pace as well as some photos. It was a fun and interesting experience to say the least – but in my opinion, definitely not for children or the faint of heart!

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When we emerged from the exit, blinking in the bright lights of the building and struggling to reclaim our senses, we were ready for a return to mundanity. We got into our spaceship campervan and began the drive up to Brisbane.

Arriving at our flat

The drive wasn’t long and we were soon trying to navigate the city’s tangled road system with the help of our SatNav. The flat we’d booked on airbnb was on the second floor of a block of flats in Highgate Hill, and absolutely lovely. It was light, spacious, modern and filled with an inspiring collection of travel memorabilia: Russian dolls and decorative glasses in the cabinets; exotic souvenirs and ornaments on the shelves; kitschy magnets on the fridge. On top of that, there was a bookcase filled with books and DVDs on travel, comedy and science. I felt like it had been designed and stocked especially for me!

And then came the part of the day – and of our holiday – that we’d most like to forget. The race against time to return the spaceship. We knew roughly where we had to return it, but before that we had to get it cleaned. And that was how we almost lost the race…

Returning the spaceship

When we picked up the spaceship in Sydney, we were told we had to clean it before we returned it and that all this required was giving it a hose-down ourselves at a petrol station. What had sounded so simple in theory proved very difficult in reality. We’d driven past an affordable hand car wash on our way to the flat, but Steve was determined to clean it the way we’d been told. So we programmed the SatNav to look for petrol stations and drove to one after the other, failing to find the fabled hose. We saw several hand car washes on our travels but drove past every one. After spending what felt like hours driving round Brisbane, our time was nearly up and we were unbelievably stressed. Steve asked a petrol station attendant where we could wash the car and he recommended a place called Hoppy’s – so we drove there.

Not only was Hoppy’s on the other side of town, but also a hand car wash – an expensive and very busy one. But by now we were out of time and out of options. We resignedly paid the $35 and sat in the cafe for far too long, phoning the spaceship garage to apologise and to beg for more time. Thankfully the man on the phone was incredibly understanding and said he’d wait at the garage for us past its closing time.

Even when we reached the garage it was almost impossible to find, due to there being no spaceship signage! But thankfully the SatNav was correct. The man from the phone greeted us warmly and gave the car only a quick check before offering to drive us the train station, so that we could get back into town. If there are such things as saints on this Earth, this man was one of them!

Settling in for the night

After what may have been the most stressful and frustrating hours of our lives – I’m not even exaggerating – we decided to take the rest of the evening nice and easy. We dropped into a grocery store on the way back to our flat to buy chicken thighs, pasta, sauce, parmesan, garlic bread, ice cream and a bottle of moscato (our new favourite since we went wine tasting!). Back at the flat I cooked dinner and we devoured it and the wine at the little table for two. Afterward we retired to the large comfy sofa to eat the ice cream while watching a Ricky Gervais DVD from the bookcase – domestic bliss at long last, after weeks of sleeping in train seats, a tiny studio and the back of a campervan! Tomorrow we would be exploring Brisbane and cuddling koalas…

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One thought on “One month in Oz – 16. Infinity and the most stressful campervan return

  1. I would have hated the ‘Infinity’ place! At least you had it to yourselves. It would have been awful to be bumping into strangers in the dark! Memorable experience though, I bet. Maybe you will one day be able to laugh about the ‘Return of the Spaceship palaver’ 😉 x

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