Heathrow airport supplemental

Well, that was bizarre.

Had to board a bus from our gate at Terminal 5, which then proceeded to (apparently) drive on a scenic route of the airport, easily taking as long as our earlier inter-terminal bus transfer.

We’ve now boarded our plane, which is sitting in the middle of nowhere, for the final short hop to Manchester.

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Friday 13th January: Heathrow Airport

‘Enjoying’ an extra 4.5 hour layover here between flights (thanks so much, BA, for changing the flight time after we’d booked). At least there are more places open (and more people) here.

Transfer between terminals by bus was straightforward enough, although going through border control and security we did have to show our boarding passes three times, as well as a separate passport check…

Thankfully, we both managed to a little sleep on the flight from Hong Kong, although we may currently resemble zombies. Don’t worry, we haven’t eaten any brains.

Once we get on the flight to Manchester, that will only be an hour. Thankfully.

We’ve worked out that from arriving at Gold Coast Airport to walking through our front door, it will have been about an impressive 45 hours…

early Friday 13th January: Hong Kong airport

Our flight took a bit time less than expected, do touched down here at 4am and by 4.30 we were through transfer security.

Into an almost deserted airport: https://goo.gl/photos/bj2EyXQwknqbf4Z4A

Sydney was shutting down before we left (on the last flight of the day from there) and Hong Kong won’t wake up for flights for another hour or so.

Anyway, just under 5 hours to wait before our next flight. So knackered…

Thursday 12th January: beginning the journey home

I couldn’t resist one last sunrise this morning. Personally, I think it was the best I’d seen (https://goo.gl/photos/inY6uEqdjNCM6obN8).

We took a detour along the River Tweed (no, not that one!) (https://goo.gl/photos/8nmBVPrxEvB6ytNGA) on our way to Gold Coast airport.

It’s going to be a long-winded journey. We flew out of Gold Coast at 2pm (by the way, it wins the award for ‘Airport most resembling a UK motorway services’ – https://goo.gl/photos/MbDVwhm5m2Rdt6AG6), arriving at Sydney’s domestic terminal around 4.45 (not as long as it sounds: Gold Coast/Queensland don’t use daylight savings time, so we ‘lost’ an hour on the flight down).

We had to get from the domestic to international terminals (on opposite sides of the runway) and then find that our airline check in didn’t open till 3 ½ hours before the flight, giving us quite a while to wait before we could even check in, let alone get through Australia’s complicated border and security processes.

We board our flight to Hong Kong in around an hour.

Our return itinerary from here:
dep Sydney 2220 Thurs (1120 Thurs GMT)
arrive Hong Kong 0500 Fri (2100 Thurs GMT)
dep Hong Kong 0940 Fri (0140 Fri GMT)
arrive London 1500 Friday
dep London 1950
arrive Manchester 2050

So… Not only long flights, but annoyingly long gaps between (unfortunately, flight times changed after we booked!.

Ah well, the price to pay for a brilliant five weeks exploring parts of Australia!

Wednesday 11th January: Gold Coast

Although we’ve been staying close to the Gold Coast, we hadn’t actually gone to look until today, partly, because we feared just how tacky and overbusy it would be.

We headed to the top end and visited Southport and then Surfers Paradise (where the whole idea of the Gold Coast as tourist destination began in the 1930s), both of which turned out to be nicer than we’d thought.

Further down the coast it did turn into a lot of ribbon development which was less appealing, but we found odd better spots, ending up at Rainbow Bay and then finding a street which literally runs along the border between new South Wales and Queensland, with different sides of the road being in different states.

We ended up our road trip back at Cudgen Head and Creek.

Today’s photos: https://goo.gl/photos/VK7pAVfZ3jaWgeMn6

Tuesday 10th January: Mount Warning

Yet another ‘I’m awake early, so might as well go for a walk on the beach and see the sun come up’ morning. (https://goo.gl/photos/UdDW5MuYT3NmVf1a7)

We headed off later to visit Mount Warning. We can see the extinct volcano from our balcony and it was also in the background of the sunset photos I took yesterday.
It’s covered in sub-tropical rainforest and we decided to follow the ‘Lyrebird Trail’ rather than climb to the summit for two very good reasons:
1. It is a sacred mountain for the local Aboriginal nation and they ask that people don’t climb it.
2. It’s a 9km step climb which apparently can take up to 5 hours to climb and descend (which given today’s heat would have been intolerable)
🙂
Photos: https://goo.gl/photos/2xtvqwpEVMhD9t8h7

This evening, I took a trip out to Cudgen Head (where the river meets the sea) before heading back to last night’s spot at the creek to get some more sunset photos (I know, obsessed).

Pictures: https://goo.gl/photos/QaVzRr2xd2jKKt5u8

Monday 9th January: Salt Beach

I saw both sunrise and sunset today. Well, I say saw. I mean ‘saw a block of cloud with the event happening behind it’. Still, got a few nice photos from them, even if I have no idea why I was awake again early enough for sunrise…

We’ve had a low-key, chilled-out day today, mainly soaking up the sun on the beach, hanging out at the apartment or going out for afternoon coffee and cake. We can’t be on the go all the time! 😉

Today’s photos: https://goo.gl/photos/AfP41tKCPYUgwYtR7

Sunday 8th January: to Byron Bay and back

I’m a complete sucker for sunrises and sunsets, so got up this morning at 5.30 to wander down to the beach to take some photos.
Sadly, there was a block of cloud in front of the sun, but I did get a few nice photos anyway: https://goo.gl/photos/2pbUT2eFxyNFptP16

We decided to take a trip to Byron Bay today, around 25 miles down the coast from where we’re staying. It’s a town known for attracting surfers and a bit of a hippy crowd. Today, it also attracted hundreds of tourists.

This rather impacted on our plans to visit the lighthouse and the most Easterly point in Australia. In the end, we managed to drive up to the lighthouse, grab a quick picture and drive down again, as there was no chance of parking.

On the plus side, we drive down and back through some gorgeous countryside. We also stopped on the way back at New Brighton beach, where there were loads of sand crabs, a couple of whom were kind enough to pose for me ☺️
Photos: https://goo.gl/photos/DcgSuX4i8TTCEYLu9

Saturday 7th January: (mostly) Salt Beach

We set off early down to the beach this morning, determined to get some serious sun and sea time, only to be met by a sign “Beware bluebottles”.

We decided this was probably not a typical UK warning against houseflies and a quick Google confirmed we were correct. A bluebottle in this context is a Portuguese Man O’War. Not exactly a jellyfish, but still a vicious stinger.

So, no swimming (in the admittedly rough) sea and there was enough wind to make lying on the beach less attractive.

It turned out that further down the beach, however, was a table and several chairs set up by a family in memory of loved one who had enjoyed the beach. This turned out to be a pleasant place to while away since time, watching the sea and occasional kite surfers.

Photos: https://goo.gl/photos/DcoNNHfck1kPBmUi7

This afternoon was low key, with a visit to the local town of Tweed Heads (the most exciting thing about this to report being that I finally managed to replace the sandals I broke in Melbourne), followed by a visit to Cudgen Lake (lovely, but I only remembered to take a couple of photos: https://goo.gl/photos/bYupbQ3M9fNp8uQi6)