21&22/2/16. We have made it to Australia intact!
When checking us in on the Air NZ website Christine noticed that there was no mention of our extra bags (i.e. the bikes) despite this being clearly stated on the confirmations received earlier. To address any difficulties we headed for the airport well in advance. As it turned out there were no issues so we had plenty of time to make our few remaining NZ dollars go as far as possible.
The flight was uneventful (always a good thing in our opinion!) although Christine did get excellent views of the Southern Alps and Sydney from her window. (Stephen being in his preferred aisle seat, three seats away (!), did not.)
Clearing the airport was surprisingly easy with the bags waiting for us on the carousels, none the worse for wear thankfully,and the immigration officer only asking if our bikes were clean without requiring proof or being concerned about our camping equipment. A short taxi ride deposited us at the campsite – not the best we have stayed at but perfectly adequate and very reasonable at $35 a night for 2 in a major city like Sydney.
Monday morning was spent repacking the panniers (Air New Zealand allow only one bag each in the hold before charging extra so we have those lightweight blue IKEA bags in the photo below into which we decant most of our stuff including all bar one of our panniers which we take as a cabin bag.) and reconstructing the bikes. This latter task was performed in the full sun and, Sydney being considerably warmer than Christchurch (low 30’s). Stephen was soon bathed in sweat with drops falling off his nose and chin in a continuous stream. Yuk!
By lunchtime we were sorted and so we wandered slowly to Rockdale (the suburb where the campsite is located) station and, having bought ourselves the local equivalent of Oyster Cards, caught the train to Circular Quay. Emerging from the station, Christine’s breath was taken away by the sight of the opera house across the water. It really is stunning to see it “in the flesh” for the first time.
We have a couple of days here to meet up with Dan, the son of friend Jim from home, who has kindly been acting as a postbox for a few things sent from home. Then we are heading south towards Melbourne. We are not sure if we will make it all the way in this heat – we’ll see how we get on.