Are We There Yet?
Flinders National Park, South Australia
I started writing this post, almost seven and a half weeks ago now, somewhere over the Andaman Sea. We’d never travelled even this far before. 11 hours flying to reach this point. There’d be a one and a half hour stopover in Singapore to come and then a further 8 hours on the plane to Sydney. A four hour wait there, then a flight to Adelaide. In Adelaide the plan was to deposit one of our cases in left luggage, enabling us to board a teeny tiny plane (one of those with the criss crossey things where the jet engines ought to be) to Kangaroo Island. Four flights, half way around the world, add in the drive to and from airports at either end, 37 hours total travelling time. And all this in the name of pleasure?
Lord Howe Island
Back at the very start of the journey in an utterly vacant moment I’d put a bottle of Clarins factor 50 sun cream in my hand luggage, thinking how handy it might be when we reached our final destination. But of course it’s a liquid isn’t it. It got as far as the first security check at Heathrow. Not to be defeated I purchased another as soon as we got through to Duty Free. An even worse mistake. At Singapore, despite staying airside, nay, wandering no farther than the gate to which we had arrived, we still had to go through the whole security rigmarole again. Another 16 squids worth of Clarins hits the bottom of the bin. After Mike’s extreme protestations he did at least get a receipt for the loss of this one. Someone somewhere will be getting a letter in due course. But it’s not the best way to start a holiday is it. Especially when I’d already lost track of whether it was day or night.
The Great Barrier Reef
And had it really been such a smart idea to have that hot chilli curry back at Heathrow? Before the 20 hour flight? No, it was not.
By Adelaide we were running late. Whilst Mike waited patiently by the baggage carousel yours truly, after another run on the Ladies room, went in search of the left luggage department. By the time I returned the number of people still waiting for suitcases had dwindled to six. Mike included. Sadly I wasn’t about to improve his day. There is no left luggage facility at Adelaide, at least not in the airport itself. So even if the last case did turn up, and it did in the end, we still had a problem. It was too big to fit on the Kangaroo Island plane.
Simpsons Gap, West MacDonnell Ranges
As check-in was about to close for the teeny tiny plane a ragged pair of travellers ran hell for leather across the departure hall. For us it was approximately 2.30 in the morning. What struck me then about Australians, an impression that survives undiminished to this day, was their unfailingly helpful nature. “No worries, mate” isn’t just an easy thing to say, it’s a way of life. You’ve got to hand it to Rex, the carrier. Not only did they offer to store the offending piece of luggage for us, it cost just $7 as opposed to the $90 we’d been quoted for the offsite arrangement.
Cape Gloucester, Whitsunday coast
The man from Rex made it sound so easy “On your return just wait a few minutes after the main luggage has gone through the baggage carousel and your case will appear.”
If it were anywhere else in the world I’d know just how this one was going to go. My thoughts had already turned to onward connections and how little time we’d have for baggage chasing at that particular point. (I needn’t have worried. A week later the stored case wasn’t the last one to appear on the carousel. It was the first.)
Taronga Zoo, Sydney
Of course, we were never supposed to be on the teeny tiny plane at all.
There’s a ferry across to Kangaroo Island and for the big boot of a hire car excess baggage is rarely a problem. We’d even gone as far as booking the boat. But then I’d started reading trip advisor posts suggesting that the crossing could be a tad choppy. Much to Mike’s displeasure we swallowed the cancellation fee and opted for the plane.
Kata Tjuta, Northern Territory
Mid way to Kangaroo Island things started to turn hairy, just as we struck out over the sea. My fear of water is well documented here and when the altitude is a mere 8000 feet higher than the boat would have been such feelings readily extend to planes. The wind picked up and buffeted the little turboprop so much that at times it actually flew sideways.
Remarkable Rocks, Kangaroo Island
The engine note repeatedly dropped and then raised as the pilot increased the revs. In the final moments he literally belly flopped the plane down onto the runway. Probably the best way to get it to stick in the circumstances. I believe the technical term is to ‘pancake’ it. Complete with tossing. We were in danger of bouncing as effectively as the island’s famous namesake.
And was it all worth it?
The view from the much needed bath.