Burleigh to bed, early to rise

This is part 3 of my 2019 trip to Australia. Previously: I flew to Copenhagen, wandered around punctuating the day with booze, then flew a red-eye to Doha before the world’s best business class to Sydney.

Sydney, being where my brother lives, is normally the end of my flying until I go home. Not so, this time! For it is the case that he’d entered the Gold Coast Marathon, taking place 2 days after I land, and since it’s also school holiday for my nieces we have turned it into a family holiday. So after an exhausting journey so far, I still had to make my way up to the Goldie.

We’d landed at Sydney at 0644. This is a horrific time of day to get here, because it’s rush hour. Many large, full planes arrive from distant lands all within a 90 minute window or so. Along with my 777 from Doha there’s arrivals from Hong Kong, Singapore, Denpasar, Tokyo, Bangkok, Dubai, Los Angeles, Dallas, San Francisco, ... it’s carnage. For the last few years I’ve deliberately avoided this time of day but being pretty desperate for the Q Suite experience, here I was.

Well, at least I’m a frequent visitor and I know the plan. My tip to myself is to avoid the first set of kiosks in which you do half the immigration process, self-service - most people use the first ones they come up against, and the later ones are always empty. Right?

Wrong. Every kiosk had a queue 20 or so deep. Bloody hell. But, hang on, I’ve an “Express Pass” fast-track voucher in my hand, which means I don’t have to use the kiosks at all and can go use an old school desk. Right?

Wrong. The Express Pass lane is cordoned off, and no desk open. Bloody hell. So I walk back through the last minute duty free shop back to a set of kiosks which, by now, are only down to queues 6 or 7 deep. I join one and thankfully it moves pretty quick. Passport in, couple of questions answered, and I have my blue ticket.

Next, the queue for the machines which take the tickets. Again I have to wait, and several people ignore the instructions to remove hats and glasses so take much longer than necessary. Beyond immigration it’s time to collect my bag, and I’m not yet sure what belt to go pick it up. A couple of helpful apps decide to disagree with one another, thanks for that.

Having taken so long to reach this part, bags are already out and it’s not too long to wait to retrieve mine. But next there are the biggest queues yet, for customs and quarantine. My tip here again is to actually go through the “something to declare” line, which is considerably shorter than the “nothing to declare” line which is snaking around the whole baggage hall.

Awesomely, one of my favourite reality TV shows is filming today. I feel like asking some people for food which I can put in my bag and not declare it, just to be featured.

You can’t really join the “something to declare” line unless you have something to declare. I do, since the first item on the list of “are you carrying ...?” tick boxes is “medicines, steroids, pornography, or firearms”. I have asthma medicine containing steroids, hurrah! Once I’m directed down lane 1 the customs guy asks what I’m carrying, and I tell him. He asks me, with some suspicion, if that bags I have are all I’ve got with me, and also whether I’m here on business. At no point does he actually ask to see inside any of my bags or pockets, just letting me straight through.

Landside, I spot signs to “Qantas domestic transfer”. I know domestic flights leave from an entirely separate terminal, but didn’t know there was any kind of formal service for transfer, having expected to just jump on the train. But there is, so I’ll give it a go.

It’s a pretty long walk to the facility, and another long queue leads to the entrance which is marshalled by a woman directing people left if they already have a boarding pass, right if they don’t, or have missed their existing flight and need rebooking. I do have a boarding pass on my phone! Which, apparently, isn’t good enough - they insist on paper copies, so I have to join yet another long snaking queue. This is getting fucking tiresome now.

The queue moves slowly, because as mentioned above, several people are booked on flights which they have missed or are about to miss, and they need rebooking. Eventually I’m at the front, they take my suitcase and issue me with a paper boarding pass. I then join another long queue, for security, which is done here rather than at the other terminal.

There are two lanes, and on the one opposite mine the guy is shouting “laptops and aerosols only have to come out, just laptops and aerosols, iPads are OK”. I confirm this is the truth with the guy on my lane and he says yep, so I shove my pocket contents, bag, jacket, and belt in some trays and walk through the metal detector.

My bag is, of course, flagged for secondary security. They tell me I have to take out the iPad, and the keyboard, and the camera, in fact pretty much everything “because there’s too much stuff in there”. Well, punish me for making maximum use of the space in my bag why don’t you.

As I’m repacking everything, another security lady decides to come swab my arms and legs and shoes and stuff. Uh, OK.

Next up, another long snaking queue for the inter-terminal bus. These leave every 10 minutes, and the queue is long enough that I make it onto the third one. Bloody hell. By now I’m really quite pissed off, exhausted, thirsty and hungry. I’m familiar with the domestic terminal here and make a beeline for the Qantas business lounge. Thinking I deserve a beer, since it had taken almost THREE FUCKING HOURS from landing to reaching this terminal, I’m greeted by a sign on the bar saying “Bar opens at midday”. DAMN YOU QANTAS.

Travelators surrounded by a fuselage in the Qantas domestic terminal.

Fine. Breakfast is still out, so I load up on sugar - fruit, yoghurt, pastry, and Sprite. And then I can sit down at one of the “do your work here” desks, put my headphones on listening to a podcast, and finally write up my exploits in Copenhagen. OK. Done. Good.

Flight QF0864 SYD-OOL (Coolangatta, aka the Gold Coast) is leaving from gate 7 and 1115 or something, I don’t recall. Boarding was just before 1100, and I was down there in plenty of time, through the fast track queue and plonked into seat 6A. Qantas have, like, a zillion 737s plying their domestic routes and even on a flight that only takes 60-75 minutes there’s in-flight entertainment screens and free food and drink (though, again, no booze until later in the day).

I put on a documentary about the history of comedy, and alternate between paying attention and looking outside at the glorious Australian weather.

The seats are pretty cramped and I just want all the travelling to be done and dusted already. We leave pretty much on time, climb above the clouds, then below the clouds, and hello Queensland.

My bro has parked his hire car and gets to the baggage belt area only a minute or so after me. It takes bloody ages for bags from my flight to come out, during which we talk about how quickly the bags came off his flight earlier that morning. Also on his flight: they saw rainbows from the plane! Eventually the carousel starts to move and the first good thing to happen since touchdown took place: my suitcase comes out second. Let’s roll.

My nieces aren’t present, having been given to a local aunt, uncle and cousins for the afternoon. Kevin is yet to check into his accommodation, which is also my accommodation - we have separate apartments in the same complex. So that’s where we go, a 15km or so drive to the Burleigh Heads. Both of us get our keys and a tour of our apartments, told how to connect to WiFi - which is only for 1hr a day? - and then head straight out. By now it’s, I dunno, 2.30pm or so, and I think perhaps I will fall asleep and have horrible jet lag if I’m not careful.

Our accommodation has a pool. This is of little interest to me.

So we go for a bit of a wander. He’s familiar with the area, kinda, and anyway the guy at reception told us where the shops and stuff were. Where we’re staying is literally only 150 yards or so from the Pacific Ocean, and around the corner we get a view north up to the high rise buildings in Surfers Paradise.

As we walk, the weather is horrible. It’s raining though not pissing down, and blowing a gale. A bit like an Australian version of Galway. The beaches are all shut because it’s too dangerous to go out there.

On James Street we wander around the shops, making two or three circuits, popping into one or two. I’m hungry again, of course, and we sit down at a place claiming to be the Gold Coast’s best Mexican food place (upon further inspection, this award was in 2015 and 2016). On the menu are “massive burritos”, so I order a massive burrito.

The burrito is fucking massive. It also weighs a ton. Part of the reason for its surprising heft is that it also contains a portion of chips. What the fuck! It’s bloody lovely, but the nachos on the side go uneaten because they are rubbish.

Down here, Woolworths (a) still exists (b) is a food supermarket. So we go into Woolies metro and buy a few provisions, since our apartments are fully self-catering. I mean, they are actually apartments that individuals own and let out. Here’s my kitchen and living room, with excellent seating but terribly lit for trying to show it off.

That is a HUGE TV over there.

Back from the shops, I decide I’m done for the day. The nieces will have to wait, Kevin can go get them but I’m gonna sleep for ages and then see everyone the next day. Sitting on my sofa, I fall asleep watching Kygrios vs Nadal at Wimbledon, and wake up at about 9pm with the TV having turned itself off.

With too few Aussie plug adapters, I attach my power brick to the USB socket of the TV in the bedroom. This breaks the TV, making it turn itself off within a couple of seconds repeatedly. Oh. So I unplug it, watch the last 60 seconds or so of Escape from New York, hunt for something else good to watch like Forged in Fire or WWE wrestling. Nothing comes up, so sod it, falling asleep to a podcast it is. Haven’t bothered to set an alarm, but ideally I want to be up at 6am. Perhaps jet lag will come in handy.

Created By
Darren Foreman

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