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21 March 2000, Heron Island, Queensland to Sydney, New South Wales

We were once again able to sleep until about 7:30. We were scheduled on the 9:55 helicopter flight back to Gladstone, so we didn’t have time to do much other than pack, eat, and check out. After breakfast, I called Daddy’s hospital room to see how he was coming along. My middle sister, Brenda, answered, telling me that Daddy was out for a walk. I talked to her for a few minutes, finding out that the doctors intended to release Daddy the next day. As we were talking, he returned to the room, and we chatted for a few minutes. His nausia was almost gone, and he was finally able to eat.

Chris and I got the bags ready for check-out, then took a short walk around the northern side of the island, an area where we hadn’t spent much time during our stay. There isn’t much of interest there, just more suites, trees and birds. At 9:15 we remembered that we needed to check out and did so. Then it was time for our helicopter pre-flight briefing: the same ten-minute video we had watched before flying over.

Our flight back was just as wonderful as the flight over. As a bonus, I got to sit in the front seat. From there I was able to get some good pictures of Heron Island and the surrounding area and the resort end of the island. On return to Gladstone airport, I was a little surprised that we didn’t fly an approach pattern as we had done when we left. Instead, we descended in a straight path to the helicopter pad.

Our bags made it back to the terminal before we did — we walked, the bags rode. We picked them up, reclaimed our larger bags, then checked in for our Qantas flight. As we waited, we saw the plane land earlier than we expected it. The reason for its early arrival soon became clear as an ambulance pulled up next to the plane. The paramedics boarded the plane, emerging again shortly with a passenger who was obviously not feeling well. They buckled the man to a gurney and drove off. We boarded a couple of minutes later, but we never did find out what had happened.

From Gladstone we flew to Brisbane, where we had a ninety-minute wait for our flight to Sydney. We had arrived in Brisbane on a tiny Dash-8 airplane, but left on a huge Boeing 767. An hour and a half later, we were picking up our bags in Sydney. Our bus driver met us at baggage claim, then drove us directly to the Novotel Darling Harbour, the same hotel we had stayed in three weeks earlier. It was raining and about 65F and the forecast called for more of the same the next day. We were glad we had had good weather on our first visit to Sydney. We wouldn’t have been able to experience nearly as much of the city if we had the rain we were getting this day.

The Novotel had no record of our reservation. Fortunately, I had the vouchers for our room, and the receptionist was able to find a space for us by upgrading us to a room with two double beds instead of one. Once we had settled into the room, we made reservations for dinner at Jordon’s, a seafood restaurant within walking distance of the hotel. While the rain continued, I checked e-mail and wrote some more of the journal.

When we walked to dinner, the rain had slackened to a sprinkle. It didn’t really matter, since our entire walking route was covered. We were pleasantly surprised by the high quality of service and cooking at Jordon’s, since it is in such a tourist-oriented area. We thoroughly enjoyed our meal. Afterwards, we took a brief tour of the Harbour Side shopping mall where Jordon’s is located, then we walked back to the hotel. A short while after we got back, tired from the day’s travel, we went to bed.

Next day

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