20Sep

Return to Oz

Return to OzFor the last time I am flying back into Australia. I had hoped for a straight forward journey back, but rather like the film Return to Oz I was in the realms of fantasy. At the airport in Sydney I end up getting collared by the Australian Immigration department, who take me off to a little room to quiz me on why I have been entering and exiting their country so much. When I ask what the problem is, the response is a very aggressive “Why do you have a problem with us asking you a few questions?” My reply that, “I don’t, but I didn’t check my intelligence in with my bags and surely have a right to ask what is going on” is not at all well received.

Apparently the terms of the only visa they were willing to give me upon entering Australia insisting that I do exactly that, because I can only stay for ninety consecutive days each time I visit within the year my visa covers, is not sufficient grounds for them to let me into the country. The result being that I have to show them my blog which strongly suggests I have not been working previously, but I am still forced to sign into my bank accounts online to demonstrate that I have the ability to finance the rest of my stay in the country if I want to be let in. I am also warned about undertaking any TV or Radio interviews in relation to my travels, because that would result in deportation! What a lovely welcome!

BayswaterI receive a far more pleasant greeting from Kathleen who is waiting for me on the other side of customs, after flying down from Lismore to join me for a few days.

The next hurdle is paying for the hire car I have arranged through Bayswater Car Rental for the next ten days. I have done so in order to get to beaches and help get anything I don’t need to the post office so it can be sent home. My extortionate Long Island Ice Tea tab in Fiji has created a cash flow problem (that didn’t look too helpful at immigration), which can only be resolved by waking my sister up in the middle of a school night back in the UK to ask her to transfer funds into one of my accounts. Thankfully she is willing to help despite the hour of day and we can collect the car, which was very cheap deal but absolutely stinks of cigarettes. Groucho Marx must have been the last person to hire it!

Sydney southern beachesThe airport in Sydney is south of the city so to maximise fun time and minimise travel time we are basing ourselves around the southern beaches while Kathleen is in town. There are many breaks that I haven’t surfed in that area too.

We are booked into a room at the Coogee Bay Hotel right on the sea front in Coogee. (By the way when you see hotel in Australia think pub, many do not even have rooms, but almost all will have a bookmakers on site.) The Coogee Bay Hotel is quite a famous venue for seeing gigs and comedians, but we are not going to catch anything while we are here, preferring to just take advantage of the seven bars and two bottle shops which the hotel operates.

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