Canberra on a plane for sale

Been busy with travel related activities for the past week. Only one actually involved travel.

On Monday last week I flew down to Canberra on one of my work trips. Through smooth skies the Qantas Q400 turboprop carried us south over the northern suburbs of Wollongong, the southwest and, unusually, over the north of Lake George to Canberra. Lake George has long held a fascination for me. When it is full, lapping against the edge of the Federal Highway, it’s like part of an inland sea. But it has been a long time since the lake was full and the shallowness of the lake was readily apparent from the air.

As we descended into Canberra’s airport we flew over a rectangle of asphalt on to which a roundabout had been painted. Yes, it was a driver training facility, but it looked amusingly like an ironic advertisement for the city of roundabouts.

It was fortunate that I had caught an early flight at the start of this federal budget week because the queues at the airport taxi rank were horrendous. It wasn’t that there were not enough taxis; they too were queued up, but the inefficiencies of trying to organise multiple passengers for each taxi. Whilst that may sound environmentally efficient, it is apparently a scam to get each passenger to pay for the full trip.

The flight back was on a Boeing 737-400 aircraft. These are some of the oldest aircraft in the fleet and only a month ago Qantas announced that they were all up for sale. The 400s are the mainstay of Qantas jet flights to Canberra and there were three of them parked there while I waited for my flight.

Despite a long heritage of flights in the 737-400, especially between Sydney and Canberra, I can’t claim any special fondness for them: they just do their job without any fuss.

Maybe the reason is that Sydney-Canberra flights are just too short to get into a travel rhythm. I did enjoy the snack of chocolate and vanilla coated almonds though, while outside the window the sun set behind the layer of grey clouds.

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