Sunday, July 30, 2017

Fog in Brisbane and Keep Your Camera Ready

The trip to and from Australia is a long one from most places, but it's especially so when you live in Cape Town. There's a domestic flight to Johannesburg, a long haul flight to Sydney and finally a local flight to Brisbane.

Incidentally, I find it interesting that it takes 11h45m to fly eastwards from Johannesburg to Sydney but a whopping 14h10m flying the other way. I did feel for the crew who, working a daylight flight, seemed to be on their feet for most of those 14 hours. I spoke to one of the stewards who looked exhausted and he said he had just had his allotted half hour rest!

After our lovely visit to our family, which you can read about it my blog post here, our long journey home began with a false start that made it seem longer still. We arrived at Brisbane airport at 5.30am on Saturday 8 July only to find the airport 'closed', filled to overflowing with long queues, lost looking travelers and our flight cancelled!

Over 100 flights had been turned away from Brisbane airport the previous night due to very heavy fog.

Brisbane fog.
From the Brisbane Times. Photo: Nine News Queensland - Twitter
As a result there were no planes there to fly us to Sydney in time to catch our connection. Luckily Simon our son-in-law insisted on coming into the airport to help with our luggage and make sure that everything was okay. Things in the terminal seemed a bit disorganized. After queuing in 3 different long queues and waiting anxiously to find out when we could fly, we found we had to stay another day in Brisbane. We were lucky. Some people had to stay another 2 days.

Over on her stitching blog, Carolyn Foley commented with some photos on that unusual foggy day. You can read about it here.

Standing in the milling crowds at the airport we couldn't help thinking about all the people who had paid taxi fares to the airport or booked out of their accommodation and who were stranded. Many were sitting around on the floor with their luggage piled up next to them, most on their phones or iPads. We stood next to a troubled group of elderly musicians who were trying to keep track of their large musical instruments as well as their luggage. It's the first time something like that had happened to us and it was all surprisingly disconcerting.

Next morning we and Simon had to get up at 3.30am! We had to catch the only flight available to get us to Sydney in time for the connecting flight home - and it was very early.  I am not an early morning person and two early mornings in a row before that long trip, as well as a long day that has 32 hours instead of the usual 24, meant we were really feeling the jet lag after we arrived home. I often wish my day had more hours in it. I found it's not always a good thing after all.

But, I found one positive in all of this. In 1971 I had a short stay in Sydney on the way to visit my cousin Pixie in Condingup, Western Australia. On the day my mom and I took a bus and visited Sydney Harbour Bridge, there was a brilliant blue sky and the sparkling blue water was filled with the white sails and billowing spinnakers of hundreds of yachts. It was breathtakingly beautiful. It's been my only visit to Sydney and the spectacular sight from the bridge on that dazzling day made an impression that has stayed with me ever since.

On the approach to Sydney airport a few weeks ago, I caught unexpected glimpses of the extensive harbour, the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House through the plane window.

1. Arriving Sydney (Commons.Wikimedia)
The man in the window seat was taking videos and photos and his broad shoulders blocked out most of the view, but what I saw briefly as we circled around in the early morning light was the kind of thing you usually see only in travel brochures.

I have since found two Wiki Commons photos of the scenes I saw from the air. Neither quite matches the unforgettable glimpses I had in the fresh, clear morning sunlight. It struck me then that I would not have seen the exact same glorious view if we had caught our original flight the day before, and it was spectacular!

2. Sydney Harbour Bridge from the air ( Commons.Wikimedia)
I do wish though, that I'd asked the man at the window to take some photos for me too. I'm sure he would have understood despite him not speaking any English. Next time I'll keep my camera ready even if I'm not sitting in the window seat. I find aerial views fascinating and you never know just what you might see.

In case you were wondering, despite the delay, our the trip home was very good indeed. I'd choose to fly Qantas again anytime.
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Licence notices for photos:


  1. 200 years ago and it would have taken months to SAIL to Sydney from Johannesburg. Modern times have both advantages and disadvantages. Let's be grateful no accidents in the air occurred because of planes flying in the fog.
    Enjoy your memories of the trip and recover gently from your jet lag.

    1. When it comes to flying and safety I am quite happy to be delayed, or go through the indignity of being thoroughly searched by security. I did find it very discombobulating though. For the entire day Rod and I felt displaced and restless.

  2. Fog in Brisbane is pretty unlucky. It's good that it was fog and not the security alert that has delayed flights out of Sydney and Melbourne over the last 48 hours. Sydney is my original home town and I still get teary at the sight of it from the air. It's pretty good coming in through the heads by boat or ship too but the aerial view has got to be one of the best sights in the world.

    Hope you are recovered. I find long haul flights - even when not compounded by changes and delays - take a greater toll as I get older, but at least now I can take time to recover.

    I'm with you on travelling Qantas!

    1. I can only imagine how proud you must be to call Sydney your hometown. I think it's beautiful and hope to be able to go there again one day to visit.