Author: Joanne Hoefer
Date of Trip: September 2011
Six weeks in Northwest Terr. and Western Australia. Why did we go because a few years prior we had done the eastern half and loved the people and the trip – we even got in on the huge dust storm they had at them. We, friends and I started in San Francisco, Flew to LA where I boarded the huge Qantas airbus for the 18 hour trip to Sydney where we had a short layover before boarding another flight to Cairns. I had rented an apartment though friends at a suburb of Cairns called Holloway’s Beach. A delightful place right on the beach with anything you could need nearby. After a couple of days to recover from the flights we started to explore going to Cape Tribulation, the Rain Forest, Tablelands, Dunk Island and just driving around each day stopping at will. We then took an over night trip to on the reef where we scuba dived, learned about the reefs ecology and just kicked back and enjoyed. Spending the night at sea on the reef was great fun and we met people from as far away as Ireland and two who were Cairns residents but had never been out on the reef.
It was time to say goodbye to Cairns and vicinity and we headed off to Alice Springs on a three hour flight. Here our adventure began. Appx 1/2 hour out of Alice Springs the pilot came on and told us she had lost hydraulics and she had to return to Cairns as Alice Springs was not set up for possible crash landing. So we returned to Cairns, the pilot was quite good keeping us informed and telling us this had happened to her before and just follow her instructions when it was time to land. Of course everyone on the plane was listening with baited breath. As the plane landed the landing gear failed and we hit the ground rather hard, spun around and came to a stop on the grass. I was near the window and when I raised my head to look out there was a fireman spraying foam on the side of the plane so I only saw him.
Everyone cheered as we realized it was a safe landing after all. We exited with the help of the firemen as the plane was leaning to one side. We were greeted by staff with offers of food and coffee and told another plane would be coming to pick us up in about 2 hours. Long story short it was almost 11 hours later when a plane bound for Darwin was diverted to pick us up, we flew to Darwin and then it took us back to Alice Springs. The problem was we arrived at Alice at 3:30am, the airport was locked, no one was there and everyone had no way to get to hotels. Again the airline crew came to our rescue and found a guy who for a price would come and get us all and drop us off so we passengers split his huge fee among us. A good nights work for him to be sure. On arrival at the hotel there was a sign posted on the door with my name on it telling me where they hid the door key and where to find the room key inside. A little searching found the keys and we headed to our room where when we opened the door we discovered a plate of sandwiches, a bottle of wine and a welcome to Alice note. Kind and thoughtful.
Continued on but that is another story, the kindness of strangers the ground crew, the air crew and the hotel staffs made our day.