Australia to England - The Final Journey.


Active member
UKGSer Subscriber
Oct 3, 2005
Reaction score
Kent & Berkshire
Australia to England - The Final Journey.

12th May 2008

I was to leave Neil’s for Sydney Airport just after lunch for my flight back to the UK.

As a last minute thought on the excess baggage I would have to pay for, which was looking like it might be up to $800 at one point, I decided to phone Etihad, the airline I‘d chosen, and tell them about my RTW trip to see if they could/would help me with the cost. On ringing them I was initially met with,” I’m so sorry Sir, had you rung us a week ago we might well have been able to give you a letter to aid you, but this late, you will be at the mercy of the Duty Manager.” :blast :blast How angry I was with myself !! :blast :blast Arrgghh. :blast :blast In the whole trip, John and I never played the RTW card anywhere to get discounts etc, and the one time I decided to, I may well have left it too late. :blast

Scott, Neil’s other son, kindly took me to the airport in his car, which was a great relief as I had two huge bags, a large rucksack & a laptop to carry as well. We had a pleasant journey and arrived with plenty of time to spare. So much time in fact, that the check-in desk hadn’t even opened yet and so I had to kill around half an hour or so drinking a coffee.

Finally the desk opened and I got to speak to the Duty managers next-in-line, who was quite a formidable Lady. :eek She enquired as to what my excess may be, to which I replied anything up to 50kg. In response she said that the Airline would wear half the cost and I would have to wear the other. :thumb2 I was delighted. :bounce1 An estimated $800 charge to $400 just for the asking. :bounce1 As it turned out, at the official weigh in I wasn’t as bad as I’d expected and I think I ended up being just under 20kg over, to which she said, “after what I’d been through, 20kg was no skin off her nose” and I had to pay nothing !! :D If I had been delighted at 50% off, I was now positively ecstatic. :D As part of the waiver I was asked to wear my (Rallye 2) jacket onto the plane as I looked so bulky with my bags and the jacket in my hands. Furthermore I was asked not to buy anything in duty-free which seemed reasonable to me. :nod I then asked the check-in man for a long-leg seat which meant I had to return to the assistant Duty Manager again for authorisation. She graciously obliged me for which I bought her a small edible gift and I went on through the departure lounge.

Duty Free were selling Nikon D70s, the same camera model I’d been using, with one drowned in Peru and another just about demolished in New Zealand, for a very very low price, about half the best price I’d seen in the UK. :eek The combination of needing to declare it in the UK, the additional hassle of unpacking it into my rucksack and my promise to the Duty managers assistant of not buying any Duty Frees, led me not to purchase it, although it was frustratingly tempting. :tears

I sauntered off to the Café area and grabbed some lunch and my last Tooheys New :)beer:) in Australia. :tears :tears

The flight seemed to be called quite quickly and so we all boarded, and as I did, I got some filthy looks from one of the flight attendants and a passenger because of all the baggage I had with me. :thedummy :augie :rolleyes:

I settled into my ’plenty-of-leg-room’ seat and prepared for my 16 hours of flying. Well, that was before the airline had computer problems. In the end we waited a further hour after our due take off time which meant we would now be in a plane for 17 hours !! Hmm, lovely !! :rolleyes:

Having had my moan, The Etihad plane was fine for a budget airline. :thumb2The films were good, as was the food. The first 7 hours of flying were the worst as I found myself waiting to break the back of this first flight. I was due to change planes in Abu Dhabi within the United Emirates and then fly directly to Heathrow. We arrived at about 2am Sydney time & I was shattered. It was quite humid and I had that lovely sweaty “I’ve-been-travelling-for-too-long without-a-shower-feeling” in the airport lounge. :mmmm The airport lounge itself was quite interesting as there was a massive mossaic running on a beautifully bevelled eve from a large central column to the ceiling. I met an English couple also on a big trip and we passed 10 or so pleasant minutes discussing our respective trips.

Soon we were called onto our next flight where I was squashed into a very narrow seat with little leg room along with a Polish man & a few other Brits. Whilst crampt, I didn’t really feel that aggrieved and the films and conversation helped pass the time quickly.

It was an odd feeling to be on the final leg of my journey to my home country being not being sure if I wanted to permanently live there again. I’d left for the trip very disappointed (and bitter) with the way I’d seen England change over my lifetime, from a country with an enviable social conscience and gentle courtesy, to a money worshipping, binge-drinking, greedy and aggressive one where ’Might was fast becoming right’ and the minority groups now had the biggest say in what was ok. This hadn’t changed whilst I was away particularly, I could just reflect on it more clearly now for what it had become. Having been free from ’normal’ living constraints for nearly 3 years and having seen so many with so little in the world being prepared to give so much, I’m not sure I will or want to fit in again and felt a bit anxious.

We finally landed back in the UK at around 7am UK time. Soon I was through Customs and ringing a cab company my friend Habib had arranged a local Taxi for me through, and drinking my first Latte back here in Blighty.

The Taxi booked, I left the airport building and headed for my collection point. The sun was shining, the air was very fresh and the Taxi driver fairly friendly. It was a nice welcome back for which I was very grateful.

The Taxi took me to where my friend Habib had left my BMW Dakar. Whilst I’d been looking forward to seeing it again, I have to say it was odd. A bit like catching up with an old girl-friend you haven’t seen for a while. After the initial shock of seeing how dirty it was, I loaded it up, got changed into my bike gear and rode off scared to death of how horrible it felt to ride. The TKC80’s (tyres) were way past their useful life and as square as a Lego brick, where cornering became an issue of a faith as the bikes attitude went from upright to cornered with no transition point to reassure me of any grip. Moreover I just wasn’t confident of anything on it. It looked a mess and felt down-right horrible to ride. :eek:

<IMG SRC="" border="0" alt="Image Hosting by">

Back in England and re-united with the Dakar, apparently the off-side pannier lid is somewhere on the M3 :rolleyes:

On the way to visit my Mum, who incidentally didn’t know I was even coming home :eek, I stopped at a service station on the M25 to collect my thoughts and have a second breakfast (The first being on the plane). I picked up a discarded copy of The Sun and was disappointed to see the same old rubbish being portrayed as being important…..the latest Pop Idol nominees etc. :rolleyes: I was however determined not to let it get to me and ruin my first day back and so consumed my breakfast and rode onto my Mum’s.

My Mum had had a stroke whilst I’d been on the RTW (Although I had visited her from Africa shortly after it happened at the end of 2006.) and so I was worried of giving her too much of a surprise. I’d decided to ring her from a local call box just across the road from her house, but when I got there, it had been taken away. I was just about to ride by my Mum’s house in search of another box when I saw her and our friend Bill out the front of the house doing a bit of gardening, so in the end I just stopped on the pavement and Bill saw me straight away.

It was nice to see my Mum & Bill again. She looked so much better than when I’d last seen her.:thumb2 We had a cup of tea and began the process of ‘catching up’.

I was back in England, the trip was over, my Mum looked well, the sun was shining and I’d survived nearly 3 years on the road. If the trip had to come to an end, this was as nice as I could have scripted it for myself and I was grateful.


Top Bottom