The bus to Palm Beach went from the bottom of the hill at Collaroy, so we set off in the sunshine aiming to arrive at Palm Beach at about 12.45. Our flight was due to take place at 2.00 and we had decided to lunch at the Home and Away cafe prior to take off. All went to plan until we missed the bus stop. No excuse, Tony’s instructions had been quite clear – we were so busy looking for the lighthouse we quite forgot the golf club! Luckily it was only one stop and it was no real hardship to walk along the sand back to the seaplane jetty and the cafe
After first checking that all was ok for the flight, we joined the busy cafe throng to eat out on the verandah jutting out over the water. It was the stuff of holiday brochures! People had come in on boats or off the beach to dine under shady umbrellas surrounded by plants and flowers and served by waiting staff who could have just stepped off the film set themselves and had all been to charm school!
We sat enjoying the sunshine and drinking a beer with our meal.
We had been warned that take off might be just after 2.00 as Steve, the pilot, might need to refuel (I think it was the ‘plane not him that needed refuelling) . Sure enough just before 2.00 there was a whirring sound across the lagoon and the small plane flew in, initially skimming over the water and then lightly resting on its under body catamaran type floats. It looked very small…….
The seaplane operation is run by Steve and his wife (I think), a lovely couple. He is a little craggy chap who looks in the cockpit as though he is part of the aircraft! As the ‘plane engine ground to a halt, Mrs Steve very competently moved fuel cans into position and within a very short space of time we were being given our life jackets to tie around our waist (was this to be the only thing between me and ocean swimming I thought…… Once again it looked a little small!) and we were being ushered on board. The interior was snug to say the least! There were four of us in wat felt like an oversized pram interior ( it might have been the quitting!). Two behind two with the pilot in front.
Th other passengers were a chap celebrating his birthday who had asked to go ‘somewhere by ‘plane’. and his wife. They were both from Sydney and were waved off by two friends. She was obviously a bit nervous before we took off and showed the anxiety I think we all might have felt – she was just a bit more open about it. It proved totally unnecessary.
After a little bit of floating, the engine was switched on and the propeller started going round and then we were rushing over the water and with absolutely no effort we were off in the air! It was wonderful as we swept pass the beaches we had visited at the weekend – all looking gorgeous ( which was more than could be said for us with our headphones on in order that we could hear Steve’s commentary on what we were seeing!).
What an experience!
As we neared Sydney harbour, we saw the ferries carrying passengers from the outlying areas and then the harbour bridge and opera house came into view. Then to top it all we saw the spouting of a whale – no pictures I am afraid too excited to take a photograph!
We were just so lucky to do the flight on such a lovely day.
On the return journey we dropped lower and saw more clearly all the boats moored in the inlets and more beaches came into view . What was nice was the fact that we flew over a number of the coastal walks we had made over to Manly, at Curl Curl (where Wendy and Sarah live) and of course Collaroy.
We just loved it and it was a great finale to all our wonderful experiences on the trip
Then the ‘icing on the cake’ of the excursion occurred in that when we got back to Palm Beach and were having a celebratory beer, who should come along but Sarah and Wendy! They had walked up to the.lighthouse with their friend Debby! We loved the opportunity of seeing them again and they very kindly took us home after Debby had taken us on another tour of the amazing homes of the rich and famous. What a place! Houses with lifts to get you up the rock face within your home, multi balconied affairs – huge palaces! Australia must be an architects and engineers dream in terms of not only designing the houses to accommodate the terrain but then making it happen!
In the end, delivered home again, we said goodbye to the girls for what had to be the last time of this trip. We have loved their company. Then it was our final supper with Justine and Tony Justine (who I believe has extra hours in her day than the rest of us) sallies in and produces a perfect fish pie for supper – donning her apron over her office wear and still sporting her stilettos! Incredible! To top it all the evening was still balmy so we had supper on the balcony.
I think we were all a little subdued at the thought of saying good bye on the morrow and a little replica wooden ferry for the Christmas tree nearly brought on the tears……. But a good night with good friends.