Monday, 18 October 2010

Getting from Agnes Water back to Brisbane Airport

With less than two weeks away from my validation trip to Australia, I've started to think about the finer logistical points of the journey.

Q. How I'm going to get to Heathrow?
A. I'm travelling alone, so the cheapest easiest option is for me to try out the services of National Express coaches for a knockdown price of £19.90.

Another alternative (other than to ask the better half to drive me) which wouldn't have been too costly is the First Great Western RailAir link. However, it would have required me to negotiate between the railway platform and coach station at Reading, with 40Kgs of my partner's most treasured possessions and my own over stuffed rucksack of hand luggage.

Q. How do I get from Brisbane Airport to my mother-in-laws in Agnes Water, QLD - nearly 500km (310 miles) away?
A. This one was made easier; the m-in-law has offered to collect me.

Q. How do I get back from the m-in-laws to Brisbane Airport?
A. This is a little trickier. Having had her perform the six hundred mile round trip for me once, I couldn't very well ask her to do the same thing again - less than a week later.

So, I started to look at the option of hire cars from Bundaberg. The quote I received - for an eight hour car rental - left me stunned. To give you context: I can collect a car from Heathrow and drive it to Swindon, for less than £40 plus petrol.

A one-way journey from Avis Bundaberg to Avis Brisbane airport was priced at $236AUD, with mileage charges and petrol to be added on top. At today's exchange rate, that's nearly an eye watering £150 before I'd started the ignition.

At that price, I'd want to be offered a Mercedes or be allowed to keep part of the car. But no, this was for a Hyundai Getz - hardly premium transport.

Another option - suggested to me, was the high-speed Tilt Train, leaving Miriam Vale it promised to get me to Brisbane central station for a more reasonable $80AUD. That said, the quoted journey time was a less than high-speed five hours. Un-burdened from my partner's heavy bags (left for safe keeping with her mother) it would be easy to hop onto the Airtrain ($15AUD) to get me to the airport.

Lastly, I considered flying as a possibility. The absolute cheapest option I found was with Tiger Airways, from Rockhampton. Their price was $24AUD - by far this made planes, cheaper than trains or automobiles - but would have meant that I would have had to depart from my mother-in-laws at 4am to get the airport and it also would have left me with a fourteen hour wait at Brisbane.

The route I finally selected was a flight with Qantas, from Bundaberg for the grand total of $88AUD (around fifty quid) or less than a third of the total cost of hiring a car and driving myself.

By flying, the journey time is reduced to fifty minutes - so another win. The only area of concern – particularly for my beloved partner - is the aircraft that Qantas operate from Bundaberg airport: the De Havilland DHC-8-400Q. Since the advent of jet engines, her feeling is that propellers have no place in modern propulsion.

Bundaberg airport markets itself as an up-and-coming facility. "More than 50,000 people pass through the terminal annually" their website pronounces. By comparison, Heathrow handles around 183,000 every day of the year!

Brisbane airport is divided between two terminals that are 2km apart, so I'll need to use the previously mentioned Airtrain to transport me between domestic and international terminals. All being well I should only have a few hours between check-in and the first leg of my Singapore Airlines flight back to London.

Once I finally get back to Heathrow, my lady love and son will be waiting to chaffeur me the final miles back home. By then it will be less than six months, before the three of us (plus our currently unborn beautiful baby) are back in Heathrow to make our one-way flights to Australia. This time I have a feeling we won't be flying up to Bundaberg!