A Tuesday in Winton

The aircon in our room made the blankets on the bed necessary, and it was an interesting contrast freezing in the boom and baking outside. Having all had an early night I was surprised we weren’t up until 8:30, though the rest felt good.

We had decided not to stay for breakfast, despite Barcaldine being a very nice town all round. Everything packed up again, we were off on our way to Longreach, where we stopped for breakfast in the Qantas Founders Museum, considering everything else in town was either shut or not serving food till midday.

Qantas Founders Museum Qantas Founders Museum

Continuing on, and with mum electing to drive the whole way, we finally made it to Winton in the early afternoon, a two hour drive from Longreach. We checked into some adequate rooms at the Boulder Opal Motel, promptly turning on the aircon. The temperature in the shade reached 38°C.

A slow walk around town gave us the impression everything was shut, but then it is Christmas and everyone seems to bugger off from these parts around now. Luckily we managed a feed in the Twilight Cafe, but we’re told they’d be shut before dinner. Everything else was also shutting before dinner, leaving us nowhere to eat! Again luckily, we found an open supermarket and got some things for dinner: chicken, tomatoes, bread and drinks.

I met up with Kim, having sent him some messages on Sze Sze’s mobile, as flOptus doesn’t believe in outback reception, but Telstra does.

I found free public wifi in town though, and our motel offers it around the reception and pool areas, so I sat by the pool in the shade of a fern tree… and sweated while being mobbed by flies. The wind slowly picked up in the late afternoon, helping to cool me down. And the pool finished the job.

A refreshing dip in the pool

Boxing Day

It’s Boxing Day and what an early start we had. Also, no boxing here.

My alarm went off at 4:30 and we left the hotel at just 5:00. A nice early start to get us to the airport in time, although as it happens, a little too early. There was no traffic.

I quickly got my bag checked-in at the Qantas bag-injectors, before we all made our way to the Qantas Club for breakfast and to wait for our flight, much earlier than planned.

The flight up to Blackall was just like any other, with the turbulence occurring on the Blackall to Longreach sector. I wasn’t too happy to find I had no signal at Blackall, and later annoyed to hear I wouldn’t get any at Winton either. And neither did I in Barcaldine (though I did find an open wifi network). Thankfully I did at Longreach and Ilfracombe.

So anyway, we arrived on time at Longreach and after collecting our luggage were in our rental car in no time at all, driving down the highway to Barcaldine. Just 105KM / 1 hour later we found ourselves in a quiet town, and soon, checking into our room.

The temperature since we arrived didn’t get past 40°C, despite a forecast high of 42°C, that said though, we were later told in the Union Hotel Motel that Winton would be hotter. However, a lack of humidity does make all the difference.

We watched and listened to the cricket, and I took an afternoon dip in the motel pool… which was very refreshing. And then we all had a siesta. Waking from the siesta we all bar mum completed the pub crawl of the open pubs in town, managing to play some darts too.

The Tree of Knowledge, Barcaldine 360° Tree of Knowledge The Tree of Knowledge at night, Barcaldine

Dinner was big and filling, even though there were only 6 items on the menu, with 5 being meat and 1 fish. The sides made all the difference though. Following dinner we took in the Tree of Knowledge (panorama) at night, with white and green lights illuminating the structure and providing for some good photo opportunities.

Christmas Day

It wasn’t an early start in this household this morning, well except for dad who actually arrived back from 18-holes of golf at 8:30… he must’ve started early and played one of the quickest games of his life.

As he was up, and then Sze Sze, and me, breakfast was started… bubble & squeak, bacon, eggs and black pudding, delicious!

Eventually mum arose and we gathered around the fireplace, where all our presents have appeared over the past several days and started opening cards and presents.

This year, as with most years here I suppose, was full of little presents and clothes. No wrapping paper, or very little this year as the need to have that look and feel subsides, plus we’re all lazy.

So, I ended up with some tech, in the form of keyring bottle-openers, Bang & Olufsen headphones, an iPhone hoodie case and a headphone cord case. Clothes such as shirts (both long and short sleeved), a blue belt, skiing bandana, psychedelic FCUK shorts, boxers and socks. And I’m sure I’ve missed something.

Quickly packing food and clothes into suitcases and bags, we headed up to Brisbane shortly after midday to check into Quay West Suites, on the river. I took a wonderful panorama of the view from the apartment, though it was very windy on the balcony.

The view from Quay West Suites Brisbane on Christmas Day.

We had lunch and champagne after we arrived, before taking a long walk in the late afternoon. Starting in the Botanical Gardens we headed up the river, across the Goodwill Bridge, back down the river and across the Storey Bridge, before walking back up to the hotel. It was a very long walk.

Dinner was also in the unit, as everything was closed. Though we did bring food with us knowing that everything would be closed. Great views at night too.

The view from Quay West Suites Brisbane on Christmas Day… at night.

Christmas Eve

My Christmas eve began with me being woken multiple times, by my alarm and by dad, as my job for the morning was to drive up to Brisbane to pick up mum. Luckily I suppose, her flight was later arriving than scheduled, and this was known while I was still in bed, so I had an extra 20 minutes of sleep.

The drive up to Brisbane, and the drive back down from Brisbane both had little traffic issues, so that part of the journey was actually quite speedy. However after her flight landed it took nearly an hour for her to clear customs, so I had a lot of waiting around.

The day was average, sort of boring I suppose, but the real fun came tonight when we went out for dinner. Colin and Peggy joined us for dinner at Arakawa, where we ate at a private tatami table.

The food was, as usual, amazing, while the company actually proved to be very entertaining tonight, with Peggy on fine form with jokes and all sorts. By the end of the night I almost thought we were laughed out.

On our return home I suggested mum open one of her presents early, due to it being a night time thing, and I think she was very happy with her fountain for the pool, as she got in, followed by dad, and eventually me. Luckily Sze Sze stayed out to take photos. Unfortunately I don’t think mum would be happy with any of the photos being online.

Can’t Seem To Take A Break

I just can’t seem to take a break on all this drinking over the Christmas period. It’s not my fault though, it seems to be the time to be drinking, and I doubt I’ll get a break until the new year. I shall take a break then though, I’ll be very happy to take the much needed break by then.

So anyway, this morning we took a drive out to Mudgeeraba for Christmas presents before picking up some alcohol on the way home. You see the problem already.

Dad met with Peter after lunch, for lunch, and didn’t get back until 21:00, though only because Sze Sze and I met him at Peter’s for dinner where we had a delicious chicken curry with some awesome chillies. The wine accompaniment was an Arrowfield Shiraz from McLaren Vale, 1998 vintage, and was simply superb.

As usual, everyone was in bed before me.

Flying Mad

Flying… an expensive hobby of mine!

I have a route planned out that I want to take that would make me look like a nut case by a lot of people. The journey will be the reward, with the destination to just get back to the start. It’s crazy, I know.

Map to Nowhere

To be fair, the route came about because of a trip report that had been written by someone else, taking in a marvellous 9 flights in a single day just to get back to where they started. However, I’m looking to build on that, to take 14 flights in 2 days, and only because it can’t be done in just the 1.

BNE-TWB-CTL-ULP-WNR-BVI-BEU-BQL-ISA-DMD-BUC-ONG-NTN-CNS-BNE

What exactly does that mean I hear you ask.  It means flying a route thats roughly the shape of Queensland in order to go no where.  I suppose ideally most would want to stop at each destination and do some exploring, but I feel I’ll see enough from the air.

Leaving Brisbane on a Thursday morning, I stop at Toowoomba, Charleville, Quilpie, Windorah, Birdsville, Bedourie, Boulia and finally Mount Isa in the late afternoon, to round out the day.

The next day, a Friday, I depart Mount Isa in the morning, to stop at Doomadgee, Burketown, Mornington Island, Normanton and Cairns by mid-afternoon.  I then take a flight home on a different carrier direct to Brisbane that evening.

What isn’t set in stone is the dates this happens on.  The only thing that is, is that it has to be a Thursday and Friday as the service doesn’t always run exactly as it does on other days, and I’m not sure I want to be spending too much time in Mount Isa.

Gardening

I got out in the garden today, the front garden that is. It’s probably been about a month since I planted the chilli seeds and the shoots have grown a few centimetres above the soil, but no further, so I transplanted them into 4 pots (2 for the peter peppers, and 1 each for the two hottest chillies in the world). There were a few worms in the soil too so I made sure they made the move to their new home. Hopefully that means all is well.

It’s probably worth noting the rest of the gardens around the house have been mulched, so if it does get really hot the water content in the soil should be preserved. It smells nice too.

The Tree of Life

Tonight Sze Sze and I watched The Tree of Life, having seen several very interesting looking previews on TV. I’m not sure if it’s out here yet, but it is in the US, so that’s where we got our copy.

I must say, following the storyline was a tad confusing at times. I had to launch Wikipedia and read along the plot for bits of it, but the thing that really made the movie great with the cinematography. Absolutely amazing shots! A very visually stunning movie.

It’s definitely on the favourites list, and I am interested in the apparently 6 hour long directors cut, though I think that might take more than one sitting to get through.

Status Runs

Status runs are enjoyable to me, they’re something that I enjoy as I like the experience of flying, and I like having status… in fact, status is great. That said, I’m not a vocal person, I don’t push to the front of the queue and demand service first because my card is the shiniest, but I like to have the shiniest card, just because. World we live in?

So tonight I’ve been struggling with a dilemma. There’s a status run I can do, it’ll get me to the next tier: Platinum. At that tier I’ll be able to dine in the First Class Lounge whenever I want, I wont need some other Platinum to fly with me and guest me in, yet it comes at a cost.

I like saving, and I don’t like spending. I’m a bit of an impulsive buyer though, I see something I want and have to have it, before fully realising the damage. Sometimes I give myself time to think and all I end up doing is swinging backwards and forwards talking myself in and out of the item in question. That’s what I’ve been up to tonight.

I think the best way to let others help me is to lay it all out. I need you to know exactly what this will cost me, and you need to come into this with an open mind.

The status run in question starts and ends in Townsville. So I need to get there and back first. There’s a sale on that ends tonight. At those prices I can get there and back for $250. If I wait and book outside of the sale it will be an additional $88.

The next step is the actual status run portion. In one day I would fly TownsvilleBrisbaneDarwinBrisbaneTownsville. I’d leave at 0555 and get back at 2135. My entire day would be spent in a Business Class seat in the air, or in a Business Class lounge on the ground. There’s a fair chance I’d get a few drinks in and I’d be heartily fed through all 4 flights and all 4 lounges on the ground (counting Brisbane twice).

The total cost of this day in the air and on the ground would be 48,000 of my valuable points earned through other flying and shopping endeavours, and $239.49 of my hard saved cash.

The very next day I’d do it all again. And yes, that’d be another 48,000 points and $239.49.

Between all this flying and lounging, in fact every time I ended up in Townsville, I’d be spending the night in the airport, as there’s no money left over for hotels. That’s 3 nights on an airport bench in the tropics in summer. It’s also quite possibly, 4 days in the same clothes.

By the time I get back to Brisbane (for the 5th time) I’ll have barely 1000 points to my name and have used the money I’d saved for just such an occurrence (but that I still don’t want to let go of), however by February I’ll have made nearly half of the points back.

It is an addiction, but isn’t everything in life? At least I can be proud I don’t smoke or do drugs, right?

For all of that, Platinum probably wont give me much above Gold, I’ll undoubtedly not get any free upgrades and receive the same level of service I have done as a Gold. Unless I travel far and wide, which isn’t very likely for the next couple of years, I probably wont notice anything different. I will earn 25% more points, and I will have access to a slightly better lounge, and yes, I will have access to the beloved First Class Lounge should I fly alone.

I realise I wont be happy if I get to Platinum, but I also wont be unhappy, in the grand scheme of things a plastic card wont change my outlook on life and be a magic fix that solves all my problems.

And the bottom line is, the longer I go on and try to justify things, the less sense I make.

So I’m damned if I do and I’m damned if I don’t, exactly what do I do?

P.S. I’m probably looking at that extra $88 already!

Observations on Comments

I know this version of my blog is only new, but I’d like to share some observations on the comments system, just incase anyone is wondering. They are turned on, and they do require approval.

I’ve so far received a comment from someone called Lester who seems to write about snowboards in German and French. As such, I wasn’t sure if that comment was spam, but the comment seemed genuine. I’ve also had one spammy comment that was clearly not real, and that wasn’t approved.

I have a feeling I’ll receive more spammy comments in the future, it’s only natural in this world. However, if you’re a reader, family, friend, feel free to comment. My email also hasn’t changed, but I’m not sure it’s listed anywhere currently. I’d rather stop spam not encourage it.

Finally, if you want to leave a comment, but don’t want it to remain, just say so, I’ll get your message and will then delete it.

But bottom line, comments need to be approved and are available.