THE START – AND END – OF A LONG JOURNEY

Today was our last day in Sydney.

Our flight was due to leave at 4:40pm local time, meaning we would would need to be at the airport for about 1:30pm. So, having checked-out at around 9am, with a morning to fill, we left our luggage in the hotel lock-up and went for a walk.

Having done all the major sightseeing that we wanted to do over the last couple of days, we headed off in a completely different direction, towards a large circular park area known as Tumbalong Park. Here, we found a little gem…

The Chinese Garden of Friendship is a walled area consisting of landscaped gardens, a lake bursting with giant Coy Carp, streams tumbling over little waterfalls (talk about a water feature…), and several pavilions and other structures built in a traditional Chinese style.

We bought a couple of tickets and went in, not entirely knowing what to expect, and were instantly charmed by it.

The pathway we followed was accompanied by helpful information boards that explained the meaning and purpose behind each element of the garden we came across. It was truly a walk of discovery and exploration; we couldn’t believe just how much they’d managed to pack into a relatively small area. There was something quite magical about it, made all the more compelling by the backdrop of high-rise buildings visible just beyond the wall. Despite the skyscrapers, the garden felt like it was a whole other world away.

Needless to say, we enjoyed our leisurely stroll through the garden immensely, exploring every pathway we came across and watched the spectacle of massive carp being fed from one of the pavilions at precisely 11am.

Eventually, we had to bid farewell to the Chinese Garden of Friendship, and indeed, it was time to bid farewell to Australia…

A taxi dropped us off at the International Airport at about 1:15pm, where we joined a very long queue to check-in (Note to self: check-in online in future).

There was a bit of an eek moment when it came to weighing our luggage. The two large suitcases, which we’d been most worried about, were okay, but we found out, only at the check-in point, that there is also a strict weight allowance on cabin bags- a small detail we’d managed to overlook. Fortunately, our check-in guy was a nice guy, and allowed us to redistribute some of our stuff (as many other folks in the queue had been doing), to allow us through. This mostly meant tying jumpers and coats around our middle and stuffing the heavy binoculars case into one of the larger suitcases.

By the time we’d queued and been scanned through security, walked for miles to the departure gate and finally found our seats on the plane, our Qatar Airways flight took off more or less on time

Much of the rest is a bit of a blur…

Other than a brief stopover and change of planes at Dohar, we were sat in our cramped cattle-class seats for approximately 25 hours (although, to be fair, the second plane was much larger and quite a bit more comfortable than the first). Oh to be able to afford Business Class. That’s a lot of movies, and in the case of the second flight, an earnest attempt at getting some sleep.

Next stop… Heathrow