Day 35, Monday 16 May 2016 – Melbourne to Mildura

By the time we arrived in Melbourne, after crossing several time zones, and with a tail wind of 235kph, it was 5:45am. I felt like my eyeballs were halfway down my cheeks, and I had read almost two books.

Russ re-joined me just before we went into landing mode so we spent the last half hour of our flight catching up with each other. Thank heavens I have my ear planes. Even with their assistance my ears had started to crackle by the time we had made it safely to the ground.

We had filled out or Australian Immigration Declaration cards earlier in the flight, and had remembered – this time – to tick the box that said we had drugs that we were bringing into the country, and thought we would need to go through the Items to Declare gateway. We didn’t, because they have changed the way they handle all this stuff.

We went to the baggage carousel and collected our cases without any hassles. While we had been waiting for them to arrive Russ had grabbed a luggage carrier so we loaded everything aboard and took off for Immigration and passport control.

They only now have two gates there. One for travellers with Australian passports or those okay’d by government agreement with other countries, and then one gateway for everyone else. You ‘hold both passport and card in your hand as you approach (and the guys were so friendly! – I love Australia) and they read your declaration.

Phillip (our friendly Declarations control man) chivvied us both as I had not crossed the ‘No’ boxes after crossing the ‘Yes’ box for the drugs, and Russ had forgotten to sign his Declaration Card. Needless to say, when Phillip looked at the cards he requested us to confirm that the drugs box crossed referred to our own medications on prescriptions that we had taken out of the country in the first place, and we were happy to assure him they were.

We then hoofed it to the Qantas Domestic terminal – no trains or shuttles involved – and went to the Baggage Drop area, which was a real adventure in itself. Neither Russ nor I have ever used a Baggage Drop area before and they are all automated and electronic. We had to put the first suitcase onto the weigh belt and put in our transaction number from our ticket, and it then –supposedly – read the info off the tag that had been applied in Dubai when the luggage was logged through to Mildura. There was only one problem with that. It was trying to read the tag from the centre of the suitcase handle and I didn’t have any handles left on my suitcase.

So Russ dutifully changed the position of my suitcase and we tried again. The tag was attached to the extension handle of my case and we had to start to extend the handle so that we could put it in the area where the scanning of any barcode occurred. Lots of fun.

Then, once we had the scan part down, it advised me that my suitcase may not make the connecting flight as it was tagged too heavy for the aircraft, unless weight restrictions of the domestic flight had not been exceeded, in which case it may make it Mildura with us.

Russ’s case scan went relatively easy after that as we knew how to position the case for optimum scanning capabilities, even as he is only missing the centre handle of his case.

Finally the cases were taken care of and we headed for our departure gate, which was still in the dark when we got there. So, we parked ourselves at an earlier number and while Russ minded the carry-on luggage, I went to spend some Australian money. I got us some water (unfortunately, I did not check it before I purchased it as I was now almost brain dead, and it turned out to be sparkly mineral water – not the best), a cup of hot chocolate and a chai latte with a muffin for each of us.

Did I mention that I love Australia? We have our problems like any other country, but it was so good to be home where the water tasted right, and the chai tasted like chai, and the muffins…you get the picture.

After a while spent watching English speaking television, it was time to move to our departure gate where the lights were now shining. We parked ourselves once more and waited. The plane from Launceston arrived, the plane to Canberra took off, the plane for Sydney took off, and our flight from Mildura arrived.

We had another half hour to wait before we were called to board our plane. In the meantime Russ had been watching the loading of luggage onto the Mildura flight and was able to report that my lime green suitcase had been loaded along with his royal blue one.

We had an uneventful flight to Mildura where we had declined a snack tray but accepted a drink, and were finally approaching Mildura runway. Russ waited at the baggage carousel while I took the hand luggage out to Brett who was waiting in the Pick-up spot with the Honda. Soon Russ joined us with the bags and we were almost home.

The cats greeted us warmly, Brett went off to work, and Russ and I unpacked our suitcases so that I could attack the washing later on. When we had finished with the bags we thanked them for their service our many a long journey and placed them outside to go to ‘Around Again’’.

Russ put himself to bed but, unfortunately, I had my second wind. So, I started the washing. I had about three full loads to do, some minor load, and some handwashing. From the family area I could hear Russ snoring.

We have had a wonderful trip, met some incredible and lovely people along the way, taken a grand total of 17, 654 photos between Russ and myself, in JPG format only, and have some amazing memories from the experience. It’s good to be home.