This time last year we were probably in bed. its 5am in sydney, or thereabouts. yet at 5pm local time we were just ariving at our hotel from uluru. thoose days now seem so very distant, almost like a dream. thherefore, on the aniversarry of my eating lobster, I’ll let dad blog for mme…
Dec 31st (written on the 1st Jan) [06/07]
The boys had breakfast and went swimming while Mary and I walked into the town of Alice Springs. It’s not very big, and the main street is mostly Grockle shops. It was also very hot, even though it was only 9.00 in the morning. We had a juice in a small caf, and walked back to the hotel, across the bed of the Todd river. You could see the water flow was strong when there was water, but we were walking through sand and gravel that was bone dry. Under the bridge there were hundreds of bottles and cans, clearly a place used for night time parties. We saw many aboriginals in the town, apparently Alice Springs can be a bit dangerous at night because of drunken and drugged aboriginal people. This was according to our tour guide Evan, who said this during the Kings Creek walk.
Back to hotel, packed, checked out, rode in a full sized wheelchair-accessible taxi to the airport. The taxi driver was a real Aussie, who had moved to Australia when 2 years old, having been born in Hastings! He has lived out in remote districts on various stations, started driving when he was ten. Drove many times from the station into the town to buy a hamburger, a distance of 400 Kms!
At the airport saw the Winstons for the last time – Rozie said goodbye to Matthew. The Winstons are a Californian (Santa Cruz) couple who had been on the tours with us, John, Jill, three daughters including Rosie, who is learning-disabled. She had taken an interest in Matthew from when she saw she was not the only disabled person on the tour. Luke also attracted interest from a young lady on the same tour, an Aussie girl who was on holiday from her job organising tours for other people. Luke’s interest was not so obvious.
The flight to Sydney was remarkable only in that our Customer Services agent Pam was on her last flight, retiring after 36 years. There were very emotional farewells, good wishes and applause from everyone on the plane. She gave Matthew a big hug and a kiss, as he was her last ever passenger to look after.
The hotel we are in, the Four Points, is very well placed for the New Years Eve celebrations, so it was absolutely packed last night. It was therefore to be expected that we had trouble getting rooms – they had reserved rooms on completely separate floors for us. However, with a bit of persuasion (and 15 minutes of juggling by the room clerk) we had a complementary upgrade so that we have rooms opposite each other, and our room has excellent views across the harbour.
We also had personal invitations to the buffet meal in the hotel restaurant for the evening, starting at 8.30. It was a really excellent buffet, with tons of seafood, wine, beer, for the evening. Fireworks for the kids at 9.00pm, a box of party favours to be played with (we have the photos of Luke experimenting with them), lots of laughter, many people including a family from Cyprus. So at 12.00am there was the famous Sydney firework party. We were all out on the terrace watching, and to use the clich, we were spellbound. It is enormous, loud, bright, and it seems to last hours, but is only about 20 minutes. So we all wished each other Χρόνια Πολλά, along with all the Cypriots, and went exhausted (MG: also both exhilarated and stuffed!) to bed.
[how time flies, eh? oh well, what a year its been. nevertheless, I fancy some VB]