…and a happy new year to everyone. Seriously, let’s hope it’s a peaceful and loving one huh?
I have had a couple of weeks off (hence my lack of blogs) which culminated in the most Aussie weekend ever.
I had three days spare before we got back into making Spicks and Specks again, so I flew to a place called Merimbula on the south coast of NSW, with the intention of driving up the coast to see my grandfather and my parents. In order to do that I had to fly with Regional Express Airlines, known as Rex. It was the best trip of my life.
The booking procedure was easy, as a lovely woman with a broad Aussie accent (as opposed to an automated machine asking you to press one if you would like to make a booking) sorted out my ticket for me. She then gave me a couple of numbers for car hire companies at Merimbula airport. This is when the fun started.
I rang Merimbula Car rentals, only to be told “We’re a bit busy at the moment. I’m actually checking people in for the flight. Can I call you back after it’s gone?”
Brilliant! The people that do check in, also hire the cars. They dutifully called me back, and booked me a car – without taking any credit card details whatsoever. Just my name and phone number. Brilliant!
The flight itself was lovely – all thirty of us were comfortable and well fed by our one stewardess, who offered us tea, coffee and a sweet or savoury snack (ie shortbread biscuit or pretzels). At one point she made an announcement that the flight would be an hour, and if anyone needed a taxi at Merimbula to let her know and she would call ahead to make sure there was a taxi when we got there. Brilliant!
Flying into Merimbula is a joy, as you circle low over an azure bay, then dip down to a runway surrounded for all intents and purposes by bushland. I’m not kidding – the first sound I heard when I disembarked was the chirp of native bellbirds.
I walked in to the shed known as a terminal, and immediately bumped into an Aussie performer by the name of Frankie J Holden, who happens to live in the area. While chatting to him, I heard my name called over the PA. It seems my baggage was ready and waiting for me on the belt. And by belt I mean the back of the truck.
I picked up my bags, and headed to the car hire/check in desk, to find the paperwork sorted and the key ready. The car of course was waiting for me out the front of the shed, and a man even came over to wipe the windscreen for me before I left.
I even made the day of the ladies at the “airport” café, when I called Andy Muirhead from ABC’s The Collectors and put him on the phone to them. Just quietly, I think it made Andy’s day too.
I then spent three days playing golf, (and avoiding a red-bellied black snake on the course) and swimming in the local lake (which happened to have three dolphins in it).
I headed back to Merimbula a happy and relaxed camper, and dropped off the car key to a lovely woman, then checked my bags in with the same woman, who proceeded to carry a piece of cardboard with the flight number on it out to the runway. As we boarded, she farewelled every one by name, even adding the occasional personal detail along the way (eg “make sure you bring something nice back for your Michelle”)
As I sat back and scoffed my complimentary tea and soy chips, I reflected on the perfect weekend. Three rounds of golf (three pars and a birdie) swimming with dolphins, avoiding snakes, and flying an airline called Rex. It doesn’t get any more Aussie than that. Brilliant.
If you ever get the chance to fly Rex, I highly recommend it. In fact, why not book a weekend in a country town in Australia. Sometimes it’s important to get out of the big city and enjoy a little country hospitality.
That’s all for now. We start filming Spicks and Specks this week, and I m getting ready for a new tour in 2009. Details to come.
Here’s to a rocking 2009