Somehow my youngest sister, a published author always on the lookout for a story, and whom we visited during our trip Down Under, sensed our flight from Cairns back to the Gold Coast, was destined to show up in print in the Clearwater Times. It began when I was almost run over by a cyclist during a short walk along the esplanade before going to the airport.
However, we checked in successfully, drifting through an uncharacteristically short line-up. Surviving security checks is a challenge for husband John and me these days, as bionic hip and knee always change the light from green to red immediately we enter the portal. The wand wielded by a polite security office soon confirmed our metal replacements.
“Shoes off,” she continued. Some airports reward me for being 75+ by letting me keep them on. Not this time.
All’s well, we thought, as my husband, sister, and I gathered our stuff.
“Have you had the explosive test?” asked a different officer, touching me lightly on the shoulder.
“Step over here, please.” With a different wand he tapped my shoes, arm, and more bits, before showing the wand to his computer. Happily, nothing exploded and we were finally free.
Soon seated at a table with a small cup of coffee and a cookie apiece (over $16 total), we were approached by a pleasant lady and, after identifying herself, asked how we liked it here.
“It’s terrible – can’t stand it!” teased my sister before confessing that she lived happily on nearby Atherton Tableland. Needless to say, the gal changed her focus.
“Will you fill out these survey forms?” she begged. When we accepted, she dug deeper into her bag of folders and put some typically Aussie candies on the table.
“We always pay our way,” she grinned before wandering off to find her next “victim”.
Loaded with thanks and hugs, my sister then left us to our task. She had a short list of her own to complete before winding her way back up through rain forest onto the beautifully treed, green pastoral tableland and their fertile farm.
When it was time to board, we became nicely confused about which line to stand in and were politely shuffled from here to there, before walking out into the blazing heat of the tarmac and the prospect of climbing steep steps onto the plane.
Oops, missed the ramp, a longer but easier grade. Staff members were getting to know us by this stage!
With everyone seated on board, the pilot had a brief announcement: “Engineers are dealing with a small technical problem. If it takes longer than 10 minutes to resolve, I’ll get back to you.”
Just 15 minutes late, we were soon circling above the coastline with its long golden beaches, beside Atherton Tableland.
John had had the window seat facing Queensland’s east coast and hinterland on the way up.
“It’s your turn to have it,” he’d said earlier.
“Oh, you’ll just see the ocean,” he now added with a twinge of guilt. Well, it didn’t feel as if I’d drawn the short straw as I gazed down onto multi-sections of the Great Barrier Reef. The ocean varied in colour from sparkling blue to brilliant green around the reefs, some small boats nearby.
A couple of hours later we were met at the Gold Coast Airport by another sister and husband. After a fine lunch of fish and chips, they returned us to our 4.5 star apartment with its magnificent views. Usually 2.5 star travellers, we were rapidly becoming accustomed to the finer things of life!