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Tuesday, June 13, 2006

(*) Cairns Flights

Cairns – The Flights

May 2006

Virgin Blue left Sydney at 10.05am and arrived at Cairns International Airport at 1.15pm, 11th May 2006, just a smidge over 3 hours air time.

Well, the last time I was on a plane was probably a small 12-seater flying from Sydney to Bathurst waaaaay back in 1983-ish… before then it would have been the flight to and from Adelaide with mum and dad when I was about 15… hmm… 1980…? Blimey, that’s a long time ago, huh? Heh heh. Yeah, I haven’t even been to the airport for years – there’s no real need to unless you need to go there, you know? Pooh all the traffic and crowds and all that caper… sheesh, I sound like a real country bumpkin, huh… well I’ve been living out here for 11 years now.

I stayed overnight at my brother’s place at Katoomba in the Blue Mountains… I crashed out at about 8 that night and awoke feeling really refreshed, wide awake and excited about my day… and it was only 10.30 at night! Gagh! Needless to stay I couldn’t sleep, so I ended up sitting up in bed reading for hours… luckily I awoke at 5am nice and early and feeling fine… I’m not usually a good ‘morning person’, you know…

The drive to Sydney airport took about 90 minutes, and it was freeway about 80% of the way… wow, it’s sure changed since I was last down that way! No traffic lights for like an hour! Whee! Mind you, the experience of the SMOG in a long under-city tunnel was dis-gust-ing! It was so thick you could see it – and taste and smell it – pooh! By the time we finally arrived at the airport we had time to spare, parking our car at a parking station for the 2 weeks. A shuttle took us straight to the terminal, and – then it was kinda feeling ‘real’ for me. Until then the whole ‘Cairns’ experience had been a bit surreal, not quite fair-dinkum… but as soon as I got to the automatic doors at the airport, wheeling my suitcase, then… whoosh! Excitement and really wild things. Heh heh.

Of course, I was the one who got ‘dusted’ for carrying explosives by the security people… totally random, but it made me giggle… the poor guy didn’t know what to make of me chatting like I normally do… I was feeling more like a country boy the whole time! Heh heh. We had time to have a bite to eat and a quick drink – I amazingly thought a green salad was a good idea [and it was – light and just enough to fill the gap], and before too long we were herded onto the plane. My brother, being the lovely guy he is, ensured I had a window seat, forward of the wing with a totally unobscured view of everything! I was totally excited like a little kid – hell ya! Heh heh. The whole sensation of the acceleration and the ground shrinking below me is such a buzz… then watching us flying thru the clouds as the ocean and Sydney unfolded below us like some wild map… but it was real this time! [Yeah, I enjoy reading maps, always have, ever since I was a little tacker]. Then being able to look *down* on the cloud tops was a-maze-ing! The flight took us inland first before turning north, which funnily enough took me straight back over my home town… but the cloud cover prohibited me seeing anything on the ground, at 38,000 feet up! It wasn’t until we got a long way out west near Dubbo that the cloud cover just broke clear in one long line, and as we turned towards Cairns the unending tapestry of the brown and red patchwork below me spread out until the horizon… beautiful… I think I spent that first 2 hours with my eyes peering out the window watching little farms and towns slide past far below me amazed… somewhere over north Queensland I easily spotted the astronomically-huge Lake Dalrymple [kinda west of Townsville], which was swollen with brown floodwaters after all their recent rain… then before I knew it we were slowly making our descent towards Cairns! Wow… three hours just flew by [oooh… the pun…]…

Overcast and wet conditions greeted us, but I didn’t care – I was in Cairns! Wow! I’d never imagined being in a place like this… while it wasn’t ‘hot’, the humidity was a bit of a shock to the system… their airport is really great – just no so insanely hectic as Sydney, thank god! Picking up our luggage, grabbed a hire car [kinda a 4-wheel-drive people mover thingy… they didn’t have a smaller one so we got it for a lot less – yay!], and headed out for a quick driving tour. My brother and his wife have been up there quite a few times, so they knew their way about. My first impressions were – it’s so *green*! And wet! Mind you, the wet season was like a month too long, so the amount of rain they’d had recently was outrageous, poor buggers. And as well – it was all so much bigger than I anticipated. I thought it’d be just a large country town, but it’s a *city*! We drove to the northern beaches, where we’d be staying, and they showed me around the area they we considering living in the future… amazing… nice houses, wonderful roadways, not crowded at all, and so close to the ocean and beaches. Nam nam.

The 5-Star Resort we were staying for the 2 weeks, The Novotel Palm Cove Resort, cost us *nothing*!!! Wow… a pool right outside the door, like a 10 minute stroll thru the rainforest to the beach… lovely… it still seemed kinda ‘unreal’ in some ways… even walking along the beach and the wharf at night in a howling wind in the pouring rain until I got absolutely drenched – I just didn’t mind at all… the water and wind was so warm and soul-refreshing. I loved it!

Virgin Blue left Cairns at 6.25am and arrived at Sydney at 9.20am, 22nd May 2006, just a smidge under 3 hours air time.

Ya, we got ourselves a cheap motel rit next to the airport the night before we left, as we had to leave on an early flight… not to worry… I had my own room to run about it… I felt like a little kid again still on holidays! Although I tried to sleep, I just couldn’t fall asleep, and I’m not one of those people who appreciate just laying in bed awake, tossing and turning… anyways, on the Pay-TV they had “The Last Waltz” music documentary about The Band [1977], which I hadn’t seen before. I’d recently bought myself two of The Band’s CD’s, so it was good to kinda hear the music in this different perspective. It was kinda a sad documentary tho – their last-ever gig, and their interviews just seemed kinda… world-weary? Hmmm… that put me to sleep well and truly! Heh heh

We had to wait only a little time to get our boarding passes at Cairns airport at like 5.30 in the morning! It was a whole lot less busy, but even on a Monday morning there were still people rushing about left right and centre.. this time I was able to sit next to the window [again! Yay!], but the view was kinda obstructed by the wing… not to worry… there was cloud-cover all the way into Sydney, so there wasn’t a whole darn lot to see anyways. I managed to practically finish a Beatles’ book I picked up while I was up north [grins], and before I knew it, the cloud started to break up over our slow descent over Newcastle – it was really like looking at an aerial map of a region I’ve spent a lot of time around in my past… the Central Coast. It just blew my mind being able to see everything so clearly from the air… I was even able to see the places I lived in while I was living down on the coast! Wow!

You know how sometimes you get a whingey-whiny kid on a flight? Well, she was towards the front, only about 2 or 3, and she wasn’t whining at all – the poor thing was in *pain* as the plane started to slowly descend! The difference in air pressure was causing her quite a lot of obvious distress, and the air hostess did wonders trying to calm her. I’m sure the whole planes’ heart went out to this kid and her parents when she sat there squirming, screaming, “Make it stop! Make it stoop!” [my eyes get teary just thinking about it…] She was obviously not just putting on a fussing act – you could tell she was in pain! Ouch! Anyways, they tried a few different things with nasal clips or something to help the kid, and a special harness and stuff too… normally a plane coming into Sydney would circle around a few times to get clearance and stuff… but not us… I still think the pilot radioed ahead to get fast permission to come straight in to land! And we did – straight over Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House – the works! By the time we landed, the poor child was just exhausted, and I think everyone breathed a sigh of relief for her when they let them off first.

But other than that, an uneventful flight! The sight coming in over Sydney was simply breathtaking, even for someone who grew up there… to be able to see things from the air just gives you such a totally different perspective on things… refreshingly so…

Postscript: Ya, I know, that was a god-damn awful piece of writing, but I just needed to get it down and stuff or I’d never get around to it! Heh heh.


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