Orange to Sydney

Regional planes are so tiny!

I made the mistake of packing my bags about six hours early for my flight from Orange to Sydney, so I spent most of the day doing nothing but worrying about how the trip was going to go and deliberating over removing stuff from my bag to make it lighter.

Mum was driving me to the airport so we left in plenty of time and had a cup of coffee while we waited. I love small airports. In Orange the whole thing is one big room with one baggage carousel and two gates which are about 20 metres apart. The distance between where Mum parked and the plane was about 50 metres. Much nicer than the kilometre you have to drag your bag at city airports.

When the flight was announced no one stood up. Not being in a hurry is a sign you’re in a rural area. Rushing for a plane? That’s for those galahs in the big smoke! I followed a group of unaccompanied teenagers out the door and across the tarmac, where they looked very hesitant about boarding and looked back at me and said ‘You go first!’ So they could see me go up the little stairs. They looked so unsure I think it must’ve been their first flight, which was kind of a delightful thing to experience vicariously.

Despite the size of the plane the flight was pretty smooth. I enjoyed looking down over the national parks that cover the Great Dividing Range.

I teach Australian history every second year and the view made me think about how it took a very long time for the Europeans who landed on the coast to make their way across the mountain range. It’s hard to make out in this photo, but those line pale lines are sandstone cliff faces. The whole thing is like a maze but when the explorers finally got to the open plains on the far side they found herds of cattle that had escaped on the coastal side, bred and then just wandered around until they got through. A little trivia gem for you there ;-).

The domestic terminal in Sydney is as crappy as the international terminal is glitzy. A lot of scuffed paint, narrow hallways and poor signage. Still, after a quick exit and short wander I found the shuttle bus stop and there was a bus waiting.

I was the only passenger and the bus driver gave me a half price fare ($5) since I paid cash. The other half of the fare normally goes to the hotel I get dropped at, so he dropped me round the back where they couldn’t see😂. He was a nice older guy from Portugal and we had a good chat on the way. He pointed out the walkway from the hotels to the airport and said I could save myself the fare back in the morning if I gave myself an extra 30 minute to walk.

I was staying at the CKS Airport hotel. There’s only one hotel actually on the bit of land where the airport is, all the rest are over a short bridge. The CKS wasn’t fancy but it was clean, the room was spacious and since Charmaine couldn’t come due to a broken ankle, they changed my booking from twin beds to a king. I did what I always do and slept right up against the side, not taking advantage of the space at all.

For dinner I walked the short way to the Rowers, a very RSL-style venue that was on the water. I ordered from the QR code on the table and then waited for dinner. And waited, and waited. I wasn’t in a rush but after a while I went up to the counter and asked about the meal. Apparently, despite charging me, the QR code system wasn’t working properly so they asked what I’d ordered and then gave me a free drink. I was doing pretty well for bargains today!

The food was good, I sat there reading my book for a while then went back to the room. The bed was comfy, I had a quick video chat with Luke and set my alarm for 5am, plenty of of time to prep for the 9:30 flight the next morning!

Majestic Princess Day 14, Sydney

Vast quantities of food!

We awoke at about 5am to the lights of Circular Quay sliding past our cabin door. The ship had arrived early and so, by the time everyone got out of bed, we were already docked and could look down at the rows of pallets of fruit and vegetables ready to be loaded aboard.

We had all picked the last disembarkation groups, being in no rush to get to the bus to Orange at 3pm, or the airport by 4pm, so Luke and I packed our bags and grabbed a snack while we waited in a lounge on the deck with the gangway.

Somehow Mum and Dad got hustled straight off the ship while the rest of us were waiting in the lounge area (you have to be out of your room by 8am so the cleaning crews can go through) so they caught a cab to Central Station while we went through customs. Getting off the ship was a lot quicker than getting on and we didn’t even have to show our passports, which seemed a bit weird.

When we left the port building there were people everywhere in groups with giant piles of luggage but no obvious line, so I went straight up to a minivan taxi that had just pulled up and asked if we could book it. Why is it that things always go so smoothly when you’re not in a rush but if we’d had to race to the airport we’d probably have had to wait for hours for a cab?

Apparently this is where country people often stay in the big smoke. It definitely had a country pub vibe.

We met up with Mum and Dad at the station and then got coffee before heading to their usual watering place, The Great Southern Hotel, which isn’t far from the station. We spent our last few hours together updating the blog, watching the tv in the bar and enjoying fast internet for the first time in two weeks.

Michael catches up on his fantasy football NFL business.

Eventually we said goodbye and Luke and I headed to the airport, where we discovered that if we’d headed straight there from the ship we’d probably have been bumped to an earlier flight. Lesson learned!

We got home a bit after 8 and caught up on the news from Sim, a friend who was between rentals and needed somewhere to stay. She brought her cat so getting her introduced to Bonnie will be the first challenge on returning home.

We fell into bed after beginning to unpack, very happy to be back in our own space!