It’s week 3 of my “road-trip” tales. In preparation for a family road-trip to Canada in July 2017, I’m bringing you samples of places we plan to visit.
Meanwhile you get to read my memoirs of past “road- trips”
Week 1 was Los Angeles and back on a packet of crisps http://wp.me/p2Eu3u-9r6
Week 2 we went back to California and waited for the road to be built for us http://wp.me/p2Eu3u-9rh
This week I headed off to Australia, leaving my closet road-tripping hubster behind. Phew, I thought no long hours of driving, ahem Rosie, Australia isn’t just down the road you know. This time I took off with an anorexic travel agent and closet frequent flyer. Mmm! That made for some interesting meals!
The real reason for the trip was to go and watch a world championship gymnastic competition in Brisbane.
First flight – London to Singapore, loved the airport at Singapore, but not the “squattee” toilets! A few hours here and we were off again on flight 2 to Brisbane. A roughly 24 hour flight from the UK, I had trouble getting my head around the loss of a day. We’d left London on Sunday and got to Australia on Tuesday. Pre-landing the inside of the aircraft was sprayed with insecticide (not sure if they still do this?) and because I lived in a farm and had to tick the box on immigration forms saying I’d been on a farm in the last sixty days, I was sent out of immigration to convince the lovely man I hadn’t packed my muddy wellies!
Dazed, shocked and seriously jet-lagged we were spun out into arrivals and headed for our hire car, collapsing onto hotel beds for some serious sleep. We had twenty -four hours to get ready to watch the first gym comp – or so we thought! A phone call woke us explaining that we had our dates wrong and we had to drag ourselves to the competition room. Now I love a bit of gymnastics, but have you ever tried watching it whilst holding your eyelids open and remembering to blink, just so you don’t fall asleep, all because you’ve paid for a ticket?
We spent four days in Brisbane on the Gold Coast of Australia, mostly down the gym, we did walk down-town and found a beach to collapse on but we were so jetlagged most of it was a blur.
Next stop Alice Springs! At Brissy airport (try it with an Australian accent you’ll get more into this trip that way) we found our flight to Alice Springs no longer existed – no probs mate if you don’t mind going via Cairns?! Flight 3 then was to the tropical northern township of Cairns and another free meal for moi! You get hungry travelling with an anorexic who always says “I ate yesterday”. The view was wet and green from the shack which pretty much summed up the airport at that time.
Flight 4 Cairns to Alice Springs. Before we’d left Brissy, we’d stocked up on Australia’s strongest insect repellent. The heat and dust of the outback hits you. We also worked on our all important “outback wave”. Never heard of it? Take one hand and hold it up in front of either eye then swish it quickly out and back – got it? Yep? Good, it’s to stop the flies and points you out as a tourist straight away – the locals don’t bother or all wear those hats with the corks on.
Alice Springs was sad, we walked into town from our lodgings wary of the taxi driver’s warnings of drunk aboriginals which was a real shame, I know he meant well, we were two young girls travelling alone and I think there had been some recent trouble.
Flight 5 Alice Springs to Uluru or Ayres Rock. This is only about 30-40 minutes (I think) but aircrew still managed a Usain Bolt style sprint down the cabin flinging a cold snack at passengers then grabbing any rubbish on the sprint back before you’d had time to take a bite. Anyway who am I to turn down another meal? We took a bus from the airport to the tourist resort, we signed up for an Aboriginal themed base tour of Uluru and learnt about the significance of the rock and the native rock art. We also did the sunset tour where basically you take photos of the rock as the fast sun sets, some tours did a champagne supper, we were on the cheap anorexic tour (so a can of spaghetti back at our digs). In those days you could still climb the rock, we listened to the arguments from the natives, saw the protestors and struggled with our conscience, ultimately handing over our dollars and rising before the sun the next morning. With very little health and safety concerns you literally climbed the steep rock, pulling up with a rope in places – it was tough, the view from the top spectacular. Hubster to this day refused to believe how steep it was and now I can’t take him there as you can no longer climb it.
Flight 6 back to Alice Springs – you know the drill- I had food thrown at me! Then onward with flight 7 to Sydney. By now any thoughts of listening to the flight attendant safety drills were long gone, the view out of the window better absorbed my attention.
In Sydney we went on a boat trip to Manly from Sydney Harbour, cuddled a Koala at the Featherdale Wildlife park and more importantly went to the beach at “Summer Bay” where they film soap opera Home and Away, correctly known as Palm Beach it lies north of Sydney. See here for a list of filming locations from the show (just 1 of the 2 places I insisted we went to on this trip) Yes they were actually filming, did I get a picture? No, or an autograph? No. My friend refused to join my FanGirl exhibits and it was all behind security fencing.
Next an overnight train to Melbourne – this was such a good idea on paper and a disaster in reality – it was pitch dark out of the window and you couldn’t see any of the lovely scenery! Plus I fell asleep! In Melbourne we met famous outlaw Ned Kelly, well, we visited the Old Melbourne Goal where he’s been a guest, then we went on an Old Gold mining tour at Ballarat last one was for me again and we went to “Ramsey Street” home of the Neighbours soap opera, in real life it is Pin Oak Court, now I believe they do paid tours there, in our time. we drove up in twice, yes it is that small.
The home run. Melbourne to Hong Kong. My advice, don’t do this on the way home from the vast open spaces of Australia. Pavements thronged with people, usually 8 deep, the noise, the humidity and the language barriers were our downfall. Our hotel bedroom telephone kept ringing in the night with a wrong number, so we took it off the hook, then we had security banging on our door angrily because the phone was off the hook. We did take a ferry and then the tram to Victoria Peak for a breath of fresher cooler air. I couldn’t wait to leave. Not helped by being hauled out of line during baggage check-in and reprimanded for leaving batteries inside my camera which was forgotten at the bottom of my suitcase after the film ran out and I never bought another one.
Flight 8, Hong Kong to Bangkok – a few hours to be spent at the airport. My friend was leaving me to visit relatives working here. A short time before our trip I’d watched a mini series called The Bangkok Hilton, it’s about how harsh they are on drug smugglers and how easy it is for people to put drugs into your luggage. I was scarred Sh**less. Now we’d had to leave our luggage in the hotel in Hong Kong for the day after check-out, while we went sightseeing, all they’d done was throw a net over it, it wasn’t very secure and Bangkok was the last place I wanted to go. My friend told a little white lie, said I wouldn’t have to get off the plane, just her, that was until we touched down. The hours I spent alone in the transit lounge were spent scaring myself silly and I nearly ran onto the last plane home to London when the boarding call came through.
Sorry it was just a few photos, I’ve realised how useful the hubster is with his camera on our trips.
Next week back with the hubster and New York.
For those of you following our Canada plans, this week we’ve been looking at visiting