A weekly ode to the joys of moaning about your holiday, by Tim Roxborogh.
Nothing does more to strike fear into the hearts of staff in a tired 3-star resort than those two words: Code Brown. Especially if you're in the tropics. And particularly if the power is out and none of the air-conditioning is working.
I was on my OE and somehow found myself spending the dying months of my 20s being the DJ/unofficial tennis guy at Club Med in the Whitsundays. A curious job-share, and some of the best times of my life.
Though the latest on Lindeman Island (a 7sq km dot of Queensland jungle and beaches) is that it's undergoing a $600m redevelopment, things were a little different when I was there at the turn of the decade. Club Med was still in operation, though damage from repeated cyclones was about to close the resort for good.
If the sun was out the guests would be happy. If it rained, that's when you noticed the roof wasn't exactly what you'd call "waterproof". Confined to your room, you'd have time to conclude that yes, that really is a stalactite forming on the balcony and the TV might not offer much in the way of channels.
But again, if the sun was beating down then guests were happily preoccupied lounging by the pool, getting your money's worth with the all-inclusive beverages, playing tennis, learning the trapeze or exploring the island. This is the Whitsundays after all and the location is stunning and the mood generally just as sunny.
Only there was one day when the sun shone that the guests weren't so cheery. The ferry at nearby Hamilton Island (30 minutes away) had broken down, so a bunch of new holidaymakers had to wait over an hour in the 30C heat for a replacement boat. "That's a bloody bath toy", was the assessment I heard of the little red substitute.
Proof the fit was really hitting the shan came when the seas became unusually choppy, meaning the new guests had a decent dose of seasickness to go with the good vibes of heatstroke and being late. Never fear though, as air-con and a swimming pool were just around the corner.
Then the island's power went out. Seriously?
The guests got tetchy, the staff apologetic and I bunged on my sweatbands. At least there was a pool and pretty soon it was packed. Unfortunately the combo was not merely water, chlorine and people, as on the same day the ferry broke, its replacement was a bath toy, the seas were rough and the power went out, a child decided to enthusiastically empty its bowels in the Club Med Lindeman Island swimming pool. People fled the water like a scene from Jaws. I had to make an intercom announcement defusing the situation. I refrained from saying the words "Code Brown", but the jig was up.
By now tempers were being lost and "bloody-hells" were being thrown around willy-nilly.
This is where the story probably gets a little hard to believe, but I have witnesses. The normally adults-only pool that sat atop the hillside was then made open to all guests until the power returned and the main pool was cleaned. Then, I kid you not, within half an hour we had our second Code Brown. To this day we don't know if it was the same offender.
"This is a sh*t holiday", said Bruce of Bathurst to a nodding chorus of "bloody hells".
Cashed-Up Bogans - aka "Cubs"
Staying with the Whitsundays, it was here I first heard about the term "Cub". An Aussie expression for "Cashed-Up Bogan", Cubs have something of a reputation in the hotel industry. So the stereotype goes, the bogan with the ease of cash flow loves nothing more than booking 3-star family holidays for which they'll spend the entire vacation complaining to staff in the hope of upgrades, discounts and freebies. By all means, be a bogan, but don't be a Cub.
Tim Roxborogh hosts Newstalk ZB's The Two, Coast Soul on Coast and writes the RoxboroghReport.com.