Trip Report: Winter Getaway (lots of photos)

Started by Snorzac, August 26, 2014, 12:47:20 AM

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Disclaimer-thought i'd use this section since no-one else does, you think it's a loser thing to do then don't read it (yes Chris I'm talking to you :) and yes...there are a lot of photos!! The earlier parts of this report were written pretty much as it happened, so if it at some points seems out of context, that would be why...I've done my best to try and edit that out though :)

Hello and welcome to my first trip report in a very, very long time. The purpose of this trip is to enjoy my time off work somewhere not as cold as Canberra. Some of the pictures featured in this report are from my phone (non-watermarked) and some on me EOS60D (watermarked).

Hope every one enjoys.

This trip will take me from Canberra to Cairns via Sydney, and then to Brisbane again via Sydney before returning to Canberra, you guessed it, via Sydney. Final routing for the trip looks like this:

August 10 2014
Well today started a little earlier than planned, was hoping to be up at 5 but I was wide awake at to the airport at about 6am and after checking my bag in I made my way straight to the Qantas club prior to my 0715 flight to Sydney. Routing for the day was pretty straight forward:

Whilst in the club I enjoyed a quick brekky and browsed the net on the wifi, the Canberra lounge is not very busy at this time of the morning so I had plenty of space to myself.

After finishing my breakfast I decided to make my way down to the gate a bit early.

Qantaslink Flight 1464 10 August 2014
STD 0715      STA 0810
Aircraft: DHC-8-402Q VH-QOX 'Cradle Coast'
Seat 1A

QOX on the bay out of maintenance.

Boarding was delayed slightly due to CASA conducting drug testing, once underway the 53 passengers were quickly boarded and the door was closed just a few minutes behind schedule, a quick taxi for a Mike Intersection runway 35 departure before climbing up to 19000ft trekking via Bindook and O'Dale for a runway 34L arrival at Sydney.

Refreshment today was the standard breakfast box, accompanied by a coffee, very quick flight time today, cabin crew only just got the service out.

Close to cruise altitude

Plenty of legroom in 1A!!

Top of descent in the Bindook area.

No photos were taken during the departure or approach phases of this flight as I was in an exit row and obviously the mobile phone was off :D On arrival into Sydney there was a nice quick taxi to gate 16 where we disembarked right on time.

Leaving QOX behind.

Sydney Airport 10 August 2014
After arriving from Canberra I made my way directly to the Qantas Club where I had a coffee and wrote the first part of this report, by the time I had done that my flight was called for boarding.

Qantas Flight 924 10 August 2014
STD 0915 STA 1220
Aircraft: Boeing 767-338ER VH-OGO "Unity"
Seat 23K

OGO at gate 18 undergoing final preps.
100% full today, after making my way down from the club I waited around the gate lounge for the large line to dissipate, once onboard I made my way to seat 23K, the first row of economy onboard the Qantas 767s. Shortly after boarding the forward door was closed however there was a slight delay due to the loading of the bag, ending up leaving the bay 10 late.


Plenty of legroom in the bulkhead row

Takeoff today was from runway 34L departing via Richmond and then onward to Cairns, once thought the lower levels of cloud the seat belt sign was out and the Q-Straming inflight entertainment was activated. Shortly after a breakfast consisting of egg, corn cake, sausage and a bean mixture was handed out accompanied by yogurt, OJ, a sweet loaf as well hot beverages.

Nearing the top of the climb


The packed rear economy section

The flight went by un-eventfully, toward the end of the flight the cabin crew served a Weiss ice-cream which was unexpected as the flight was a breakfast service.

Icecream :D

Descent today started pretty early and we popped out under the clouds quite late onto final approach for runway 15

Top of descent

about to hit the top of the clouds

around the mountain range

Still above a lot of cloud

On the ground  with a bit of water getting lifted off the runway

Taxi to the gate was fast arriving bang on time.

Arriving next to VZM

OGO undergoing preparations for her return to Sydney

During my 6 nights in Cairns I have stayed at the Cairns Colonial Club Resort which is located pretty close to the airport, to get here I paid $22 for a taxi however through a third party they also offer a coach transfer for $15. During my time in Cairns I shared the twin share room with my friend Ed who drove from Canberra.

The accommodation at the resort was quite basic, however the staff were incredible and the resorts facilities whilst dated are great. The resort features three pools, a spa, a games room featuring arcade games as well as a poolside cafe and a restaurant which also hosts breakfast. All up I paid $567 for the accommodation over the 6 nights which included a full buffet breakfast for the two of us.

The bedding, this was after Ed had left on his 28hr return drive to Canberra so one of the beds was not made up.

The rest of the furniture in the room essentially, also features a small space for making coffee and a fridge, the bathroom was just a standard hotel bathroom.

Plane Spotting Cairns Monday August 11
On Monday the two of us walked up to the lookout which I believe is on the Red Arrow Trail (I might be wrong), its quite a hike but the views are great. Unfortunately at the time I was up there the lighting wasn't the best but here are some photos:


This was all booked through Bigcat Green Island Cruises, today we would head to Kuranda via the Historic Railway before been taken to "Rainforestation" for a cultural and horticultural sort of tour before been taking the Skyrail (a 7.5km cable car) back to Cairns. This included a bus transfer to and from our accommodation.

At 8am we were picked up from out resort and taken to freshwater station where the train would depart at 9am, the train snakes its was up through the mountains around Baron Gorge to Kuranda taking approximately and hour. Apon arrival at Kuranda we walked into the township, we would be picked up by a coach at 1145. to go to Rainforestation, a rainforest/wildlife sanctuary sort of thing.

The train arriving at Freshwater Station.

Stopped at Barron Falls Station.

Once at Rainforestation we were given time for lunch, this was a buffet at the cost of $25 which was quite reasonable given the selection of foods, after that we were given a wild life tour showing off various Australian native animals, followed by a spear and boomerang demonstration by some members of the local indigenous population, this was then followed by an indigenous dance show.

After the dance we were taken on a tour of the rainforest in a 1940s army duck which was a unique experience, immediately following this tour we were taken to the Kuranda Skyrail Station by coach for the trip back to Cairns.

If you aren't keen on the historic railway then I would still recommend doing this, the Skyrail is a 7.5km cable car running over Baron Gorge between Kuranda and Cairns, it provides some breathtaking views and also had two enroute stops where you can get out and explore.

After leaving Kuranda there is a stop at Baron Falls, whist you can stay on at this station I would recommend getting out as it's a great spot to view Barron Falls

The next station along the way (I cannot remember the name) is a compulsory stop, this is because at this point the Skyrail is split, the gondola you are in will turn around and head back the other way, if you wish you can head straight into another gondola however there is a short walk around the rain forest you can do as well as an educational centre. Once you leave this station your descent into Cairns begins providing some truly amazing views of Cairns and surrounds.

Upon arrival at the end of the Skyrail we were met by our bus driver who took us back to our resort, arriving back approximately 1745, so it's a pretty long day!

Plane Spotting 15 August 2014
Nothing really happened on the Thursday, on Friday Ed was headed home so I had him drop me at the foot of the walking trail which we had gone up the other day, the weather meant it was light neutral today but it did make for some pretty bland shots. After spotting I did attempt to make my way back to the resort on foot, but the map they had given me proved useless so I ended up flagging down a cab.

Today was only the second day of Dreamliner operation between Cairns and Narita.

Once back at the hotel I packed as much as I could up and settled the account as well as editing photos and writing this report.


August 16 2014
Today I was off to Brisbane via Sydney, the previous morning I had received a text message from Qantas telling me that my points upgrade had been successful so my flight to Sydney would be in business class.

I had a bus booked from the resort at 1010, after having breakfast I headed to the front of the resort to wait for my bus, the bus however didn't turn up till 1035. Arriving at the airport at approximately 1050, I used the priority check-in counter where I was issued with my boarding passes and my bag was checked in. I then made my way through security and to the Qantas Club.

Today's routing

Once in the club I grabbed a light snack and a coffee and sat by the window. The lounges at CNS are the only place where you are able to get an airside view, one of the many reasons I hate the design of this terminal.

Qantas Flight 925 16 August 2014
STD 1250             STA 1545
Aircraft: Boeing 767-338ER VH-OGM 'Bundaberg'
Seat: 1K

VH-OGM would be flying me to Sydney today, this would be my fourth time aboard her, my second time sitting in the same seat. Aircraft arrived on time however boarding was delayed by about 10 minutes due to some passengers requiring assistance.

Boarded using the priority boarding lane and made it onboard pretty fast, once onboard I was greeted by the CSM and was shortly after offered a pre-flight drink, today a choice of lemon juice or water, I had the lemon juice which was refreshing and very different to the usual orange juice! As most will know the Boeing 767 fleet features a newly refurbished interior with black leather seats in business providing great comfort on the domestic sectors.

OGM taxiing in after arriving from Sydney

Plenty of legroom in 1K

Parked next to VXH which was off to Brisbane

Boarding was quite a slow process today due to a lot of families with small children been onboard, the door was closed at about 1225 however there was an extra delay due to the pilots having to re-plan the departure because of a runway change, we would now be departing from runway 33.

Once pushed back we taxied out to runway 33 and made a quick and steep departure, with a few right hand turns to set course, today routing out over the coast before crossing overhead Townsville and heading inland.

Heading back past the tip of the Cairns bay

Once the seat belt sign was off the cabin crew made their way through the cabin with a drinks service. Today I had a lemonade which was served with a packet of nuts.

About an hour into the flight the cabin crew made their way through the cabin once again offering lunch. Today a choice of lasagne accompanied by seasonal veggies or a salad. This was accompanied by a fruit salad and space for a bread roll. Today I chose the lasagne which was great...the seasonal veggies weren't to my taste (greens :P) but apart from that the meal was great.

Shortly after the main meal trays were cleaned up we were offered an Affogato Icecream, not to my taste but and tea followed closely behind the ice-cream.

Once the meal was packed away I continued watching the Q-Streaming, the captain came over the PA giving us some arrival details, stating that we would be using the east-west runway today with good views of the city once free of the cloud, this would mean a runway 07 arrival today.

After arriving I made my way up to the Qantas club for the wait until my flight onto Brisbane boarded.

Won't go into the Qantas Club again as I've already covered the Sydney QF Club once.

Qantas Flight 540 16 August 2014
STD 1705 STA 1835
Aircraft: Boeing 737-838 VH-VZE 'Bunbury'
Seat: 4F

Boarding for the flight was called a tad late however with the light load on this flight today (about 50 pax) the door was closed early and we had to sit on the bay for a few extra minutes due to ATFM (Air Traffic Flow Management) in Brisbane. Plenty of legroom in row 4 however despite the light load there was two other guys sitting in seats D and E.

VZE on the bay prior to boarding

VH-OGM is towed to the jet base after my arrival from Cairns


Once underway we made our way out to 16L where we made an immediate takeoff with the standard steep left bank before setting course to the north for Brisbane. At this point in time the weather had deteriorated some what and we were into the cloud pretty fast, the seatbelt sign was left on for about 15mins after takeoff at which point we broke free of the cloud. Once the seatbelt sign the CSM indicated to us that we could spread out a bit so my tow seat mates moved back to row 5 (personally I would have suggested one moved to 4C and the other sat in D but hey).

Free of the cloud

Before long the cabin crew were making their way through the cabin with an afternoon refreshment, today lavosh with spiced pumpkin dip and a small cookie, I was also offered some soy snacks as well as a soft drink and a bottle of water.

Before long descent commenced, the seatbelt sign was turned on briefly due to turbulence as we completed a single holding pattern over the Gold Coast, the seatbelt sign was then very briefly turned off to allow the cabin crew to prepare the cabin.

Top of descent, last picture as it was too dark after this.

Approach today was over the Brisbane city for runway 01 in the pouring rain, landing was quite smooth and we were quickly parked at the bay where we had a short wait to disembark due to an issue with the aerobridge. Once in the terminal I made my way to baggage claim to collect my bags and made my way out to the public pick up area where I was picked up by my aunt who I would be staying with for the next four nights.

Plane Spotting Brisbane 17 August 2014
Today the plan was to head into the Brisbane City and explore a bit, however once I sighted that today's Etihad A330 was to be A6-EYE (Blue Moon Rising Livery) that was out the window and I soon found myself meeting up with local spotter Brandon on the train to the airport.

Plane Spotting Brisbane 18 August 2014
Today the plan was to go plane spotting, everything went to plan and once again I was soon meeting up with Brandon and heading over to the airport, today by bus. Highlights today included Air New Zealand ZK-OKO and Boeing 757 VQ-BTF.


Brisbane Airport 20 August 2014
Arriving at the airport earlier than I really needed for my flight I made my way to check-in, at the desk I was informed (although I was already aware) that my flight had been delayed by approximately 90 minutes due to the aircraft running late out of Dallas, after a quick check that my connection was still ok I was handed my boarding passes and an express pass for immigration I was given directions to my lounge and sent on my way. Today I would be making my way home via Sydney on QF8 which I had upgraded to J using points on.

With the express pass I was through the immigration area in minutes and soon I was in the lounge, finding that I was the first one in the lounge that morning, my aircraft would be arriving from Dallas at 0620, just 10 minutes before scheduled departure from Sydney.

I found that the lounge here was lacking when compared to the other lounges I have visited on this trip, it's also rather small, I'd hate to be in here when it's busy!!

Boarding passes, now everyone knows my frequent flyer number :P I had originally selected seat 1A, however a through traveller from DFW had been seated there so I was now in 11A on the upper deck.

About 20mins before boarding was due to commence I decided I would leave the lounge and go for a walk about the terminal.

My ride to Sydney this morning, VH-OEG, my second time on her.

Before long the flight was called for boarding, but I wasn't getting on till I got a photo (however bad it may have been) of the aircraft about to park next to us which had just arrived back from Singapore.

Airbus A330-300 VH-QPA parking on the bay some 12 hours late after ferrying in from Singapore with a fresh coat of paint, first time I had seen an A333 in the new livery, although this is the second one.

Qantas Flight 8 20 August 2014
STD 0630 STA 0810
Aircraft: Boeing 747-438ER VH-OEG 'Parkes'
Seat: 11A

Once I had that picture I made my way straight to the gate using the priority boarding lane and heading straight down to the aircraft where I was welcomed onboard and directed upstairs where I was also welcomed onboard by another two flight attendants, pretty sure I was the last one for the top deck, with only 4 people upstairs today.

As soon as I was seated I was offered a pre-flight drink, today a choice of orange juice or water. Shortly after we were pushing back 90minutes late, making the long taxi down to runway 19 before blasting off, a very quick takeoff roll and a steady climb out.


Plenty of legroom as would be expected with a lie flat bed!

Once on the way the seatbelt sign was turned off and the flight attendants made their way through the cabin offering breakfast, today a choice of hot or cold, went for the hot brekky and wasn't disappointed, it was pretty tasty!

A nice big IFE screen in the sky bed.

Breakfast is served.

The flight today was pretty fast and before long we had begun out descent into Sydney heading for a 16R arrival. During the descent the cabin supervisor made his way through delivering arrivals cards and inbound express passes.

Top of descent

On the ground we taxied to the gate and quickly disembarked. Made my way down to passport control which was a very quick process for me and then down to baggage claim. Once down at baggage claim I discovered my bag had not made the carousel...lucky I was heading home, but when I approached baggage services I was told the bag had been found and would be on the carousel, bonus! I then made my way to the domestic transfer where I once again parted with my bag.

Sydney Airport August 20 2014
Once at the transfer lounge there was no mucking about, as soon as I was through security I was ushered straight onto a bus, the doors were closed behind me and we were on the way, now that's a seamless transfer :P

Over at the domestic terminal I found that my flight was on time and made my way to the lounge for the hour wait, again won't cover the lounge as I did it earlier in the report.

Qantaslink Flight 1419 August 20 2014
STD 1125  STA 1220
Aircraft: DHC-8-402Q VH-QOA 'Gladstone'
Seat: 1A

Made my way out of the lounge before the flight was called and headed to gate 8 where my flight would be boarded using the 'gantry', a device which is used to board Dash 8s from an aerobridge. Was pleased to find that today the flight would be operated by the class leader QOA....if I had a dollar for the amount of times I've been scheduled to fly on this thing and it's changed I be rich.

Boarding today was incredibly fast and before long the door was closed with 54 people on board, push back commenced approximately 5 minutes ahead of schedule, making the quick taxi out to holding point bravo 1 runway 16R and taking off with no delay. During the takeoff I spoke to the flight attendant, working with Q400s pretty much means I know all the Qantaslink crew including the crew operating today so that occupied my time nicely :) Again sitting in front of the flight attendant has it's downside so no photos were taken in the takeoff or landing phases of this flight.

QOA at the gate

The seatbelt sign was turned off pretty quickly as I made this all too familiar journey on the dash 8, flight attendants were soon up with the service today consisting of a custard scroll (which was clearly made some time ago, yuck) and a full hot/cold drinks offering.

Climbing up to FL180

Service on todays flight

Before long the captain came over the PA requesting that the cabin crew prepare for landing, today it was a very quick descent landing on runway 17.

Top of descent

Overhead Lake George....last picture for the report.

Once on the ground we exited off on taxiway mike and headed for gate 11 which we parked at very close to 20 minutes ahead of schedule. Made my way to baggage claim where my bag was off nice and quickly and before long I was off on my way home

I can't say that I haven't enjoyed myself on this trip, thats for sure. I think the next time I head to Cairns I would like to try doing something on the outer barrier reef as I have now done Green Island twice, I would certainly do the sky rail again...that never gets old!

As far as can be seen by my ff status on the boarding passes I'm a pretty loyal Qantas customer, personally I think their domestic service exceeds anyones else's by a long way and this certainly went to prove as much.

I think thats all guys, thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed the report, if you're lucky or unlucky if you see it that way I may just write another report and some point down the track :P

The Love Guru

I don't think it's loser thing to do, I KNOW it's a LOSER thing to do lol!

The Love Guru

I also wouldn't worry too much about getting comments about out of context, there is no way anyone will be awake by the end of it!

Buzz Killington

Well, that was comprehensive.

Despite the 'bland' conditions in Cairns, I do like that first shot of the Jetstar plane. (I think it's about the 40th or 41st photo in the thread)

And did you change your jeans at Sydney on the way up?


lol, I didn't change my jeans...must have been the contest in light


Some excellent plane pictures there, Zac. Thanks for sharing.