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October 17th, 2007

50th Birthday Vacation in Australia—Day 8

We were up and at 'em between 7 and 7:30 today. After our morning shower, and finishing up packing, we enjoyed our final breakfast at Seven Spirit Bay.

Checkout was uneventful, that is if you call a $49 (AUD) "fuel charge" on your bill after paying $1250 (USD) a night to stay at the place uneventful. That aside, it was an amazing experience there.

Two of the other guests, Jane and Susan, were also heading out today, as well as one of the staff who was leaving after his two-month stint there.

We got in the van, which was like an oven, and when Graham went to start it, it wouldn't start. Evidently, someone had left the fan running in the van, which had drained the battery.

"Mind if we take the 4WD?" Graham asked.

"Sure, why not?" we answered, though I was a little concerned about being in my "all white outfit" that Robert had so generously hand-washed for me yesterday. Oh well.

I did end up getting a little red dust on my clothes, but it turned out to be totally serendipitous that things happened as they did, as we arrived at the little dirt airstrip (which as you can see is called an "international" airport) with about 20 minutes to spare.


Graham, our driver and the current manager of Seven Spirit Bay, said, "We have the 4WD, shall we take advantage of it to check some wildlife?"

"Sure, we answered," in the spirit of America: more is always better.

We saw some buffaloes, which was cool, because we'd heard about them, but hadn't seen any during our stay.


A couple of months ago Graham drove around a somewhat renown (I believe that's what he called him) photographer from an international magazine who was there to take pictures. He took us to two specific places that the guy said would make great pictures.

This was one of the spots he's photographed (and so of course we did):


and this another:


The plane arrived with a couple of the resort workers returning from some time away, and one guest couple coming in. Turns out they, the couple, had stayed here twice before, so we weren't able to woo and wow them with things that the outgoing people had used on us.

We all had to declare our weight in order to make sure the plane could carry all of us an our luggage.

Jane said, "Out loud?" She and Susan ended up walking up to the pilot and giving their weights.

We ended up having to take one bag off the plane, but it worked out okay, as the one guy that worked there that was leaving was staying for a week in Darwin (our destination), and they could bring his bag back on tomorrow's regular trip in and out.

Here's a couple of pics from our final few minutes at Seven Spirit Bay:




This plane was much smaller than the one we came over in, and we had one more person going back than came over. It was hot as fuck in that little plane until we took off.


At one point, Susan offered her pack of gum around. I took out a slice, and as I peeled off the tinfoil, and pulled it out, it formed a string from the wrapper to my mouth, looking like it had come pre-chewed. Like I said, "Hot as fuck."

Our pilot did a good job; we had a very smooth landing at the Darwin Airport. While we waited in the tiny little lobby there, Jane took out an unfinished bottle of white wine from her bags and poured herself a cup. Note: These women, Jane and Susan, drank like fishes the entire time we were at the resort.

We were laughing at her, and the pilot said, "Take it with you to the Qantas terminal."

"Can we drink it in there? What am I supposed to do with it before the flight?" to which I quipped, "Just swig it down in the ladies room like you usually do."

We all fell out.



I spent a few minutes rearranging things in my suitcases, as we had only taken a small bag to Seven Spirit Bay.

We checked in at Qantas for our flight today from Darwin to Brisbane, and then from there on to Gladstone, where we'll spend the night, and be boated out to Heron Island tomorrow morning.

"Mr. Martin, there's been a schedule change on your flight back to Sydney on Saturday. You'll be leaving Gladstone an hour later then your original scheduled flight."

We got a printout of our new itinerary, and then made our way up to the gate, where I was absolutely delighted to find free wireless Internet access.


I am quite surprised that, so far, we haven't been without Internet access anywhere. I mean, even in the outback, in the "bush" as it were, I was able to connect. That makes me happy.



Our flight to Gladstone via Brisbane left on time without incident. We watched the movie, No Reservations, which was sappy, but the characters were very likable, including the girl who played in Little Miss Sunshine and Catherine Zeta-Jones. I don't know the male lead's name, but he actually looked Australian, and was sexy enough.

There were the cutest little girls sitting across the aisle to the left of us. One was little older than the other, maybe 11 or 12 and 8 or 9. The older one sounded so precocious, and I loved both of their accents as they said "the darnedest things," as Art Linkletter would say.

A couple of my favorite exchanges:

Older girl, referring to the clouds we could see out the window at the moment: "They look fluffy."

Younger girl: "Are they hard?" The accents were just adorable on each of these utterances.

As we approached the runway, the older girl was explaining to the younger girl: "We're going to land on the land."



Our layover in Brisbane was rather short, less than an hour, but it ended up leaving a little late. While we were waiting, I was listening to all of the flight and gate calls, and here's my question: "Who's in charge of linguistics around here?"

Each of these cities' final syllable was pronounced the same: Gladstone, Melbourne, and Brisbane. "Gladstin," "Melbin," and "Brisbin," respectively.



The Gladstone airport was tiny, and our luggage came out pretty quickly on the only little baggage belt in the place. We caught a cab to our hotel, which we shared with a businessman who was going to the same place.

He ended up picking up the ($16.10 AUD) tab, and we thanked him profusely for his kindness, though I suspect his company was really going to end up paying the bill.



On the way over we found out that our hotel had changed hands, and it ended up that our reservation did not get transferred in the change of ownership, and the place was full for the evening.

They ended up finding us another place, a Best Western, which only had a room because they'd just gotten a last minute cancellation. Evidently, it was a family that had canceled, as this room had two separate rooms, one with three single beds in it and the other with a queen size bed in it.

After an initial settling in, we went downstairs in search of dinner. There was no one else in the place, but the manager (check-in person) and a guy who turned out to be the chef were watching a game of cricket on a wide-screen TV.

The chef ended up cooking up two hamburgers and chips for us. The hamburger was actually steak, and the chips were actually French fries. It was all good.

Someone from the other hotel is coming to pick us up in the morning to take us to the marina in time for our 10:30 departure to Heron Island.

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