As Omicron spreads its tentacles around the world, sending us back into some form of restricted life or, heaven forbid, another lockdown, it’s somewhat of a relief to fly to apparently COVID-free Tropical North Queensland – far from the madding crowd… Though getting here was an anxiety-fuelled rollercoaster, with a negative PCR taken within 72 hours prior to arrival and a QLD Border Pass now a requirement of entry.
With just one week to go before Christmas it seemed everyone else had the same idea. Testing centres across Sydney were suddenly swamped with domestic travellers desperate to get a speedy result. Thankfully we somehow managed to negotiate the process ‘relatively’ smoothly, but not without some unwelcome anxiety – my all clear arrived in less than 12 hours whilst Ants’ result took an agonising 26 hours. We were both tested within seconds of each other, standing together. Paid $150 each for a rapid turn-around. Go figure.
And now I read that test results are taking up to 5 days (impossible with the 72-hour Queensland or international window), forcing people to scramble new flights or even cancel longed for holidays.
It seems we dodged a bullet. With negative results in the bag we managed to jump a flight 4 days earlier than planned. We have a real sense of déjà vu having had a similarly stressful journey to Queensland 1 year ago to the day. Perhaps next year we’ll take the hint and stay at home…
And, after all that palaver, on arrival no-one asked to see either a negative test result, a double vaccination certificate or a Queensland Border Pass. We just deplaned and walked freely into Cairns. Huh?
Our hotel on the Cairns esplanade faces Chinaman’s Creek where rusting hulks are coaxed into port by dogged tugs, slinking past the reef-destined catamarans, the Prawn Star floating restaurant, the ‘spot a croc’ jet-skis-for-hire and worse, the ‘full throttle’ (Bad Fishy) jet thrill rides. Not quite our thing I’m afraid. For us it’s an early morning swim at the sublime 4,800 square metre Cairns Saltwater Lagoon. Hardly anyone there at 6.30am. Just us and the electric blue of the coral sea.
After a few days of acclimatisation we’re heading for Wonga, our return trip to paradise.