I could finally breathe once we’d taken off just before midnight. My trip home was now in its fifth day and it had all become a bit of blur.
But now things finally felt like they were headed in the right direction. 🙂
It’s an easy 15 hours across the Pacific from San Francisco to Sydney, seven of which I actually slept.
Clearly the last few days had exhausted me and so it was great to have a somewhat restful sleep, albeit on a plane.
I’m somewhat acclimated to these long trans pacific flights. Especially after all of the years of travels back and forth to visit my family in Australia.
There was time when my dad was sick and I would spend 3 weeks a month in Australia and 1 week at home in Toronto. Yep, 30 hours each way…
I was excited as we started our descent into Sydney, and as you can see by my photos on Instagram had a great view of the magnificent harbour as we came into land.
We had to wait on the plane for about 20 minutes until another plane had deplaned. Although we only had 43 passengers in total on our flight (yes, it was a Boeing Dreamliner that can carry 296 passengers).
They have a daily quota of passengers that they are allow into Australia and as such it is difficult to get on a flight home.
We deplaned and we were escorted through the customs area via the now locked duty free area. Only one plane load at a time can be in this area.
Here we waited another hour, as the last plane load had to collect their bags and clear customs. Still it was better to stand than languish on the plane…
First we were screened and our temperatures taken by health staff, then moved onto the police checkpoint where we were questioned and our paperwork was reviewed. They filled us in on the process and what would happen from here on.
This included Passport control and validation of our paperwork as the next step.
We then had to collect our bags and move to Customs for our bags to be checked or scanned.
At this point I also had to produce all of my paperwork for my non-accompanied shipment and explain any of the items that I’d marked as “Yes” on the customs form.
If its one thing Australia does well is its border security. Super tight!
After this we were ushered outside to our waiting bus by the Australian Defence Forces and our bags loaded for the trip into our hotel quarantine.
Next, As we boarded the bus each person was verified against the flight manifest to ensure no one was missed.
After a 10 minute wait we began our drive into the city, with a police escort by the way.
Arriving outside the hotel we were told that we would all be accommodated at this hotel. Apparently this wasn’t always the case, but now each plane load is sent to only one hotel to monitor.
Which in my mind is a smart move! Much easier to monitor and track an entire plane load at one location.
I definitely got a nice one – Radisson Blu Sydney in the city centre.
Upon our arrival at the hotel the footpath (sidewalk) was cordoned off by Australian Defence Force personnel stationed at the hotel, and we were escorted from the bus two at a time.
We were then processed at the Hotel reception before being given our package of information.
In the package it explained that we could not leave our room unless there was a medical emergency for which a doctor had to be present. No pass key was provided and a security guard was to be posted on each floor 24×7.
If we needed anything we had to call.
Also there is no room cleaning or laundry service available during quarantine…
We were to be tested for Covid twice during the fourteen days. Day 2 and 10 being the designated testing days.
We then had to sign the forms that outlined our commitment to follow the rules as outlined by the Police mandate.
More importantly it was clearly articulated to each of us the expectation that we would need to pay the $3000 at the completion of our quarantine.
To be fair, there is a payment plan for those that need help.
The other thing I noticed was that as the bus drove through the downtown core, there were virtually no masks to be seen anywhere. A refreshing change and a throw back to a simpler time…
That being said the government, and authorities are remaining vigilant with Covid testing still at full press along with contact tracing if cases do arise.
Fortunately Australia has very few active Covid cases at present with no new cases reported in the last 24 hours. In fact, a number of states have gone over 200 days without a case.
As we all know this can change at a moments notice, but given the significant security and my personal experience returning to Australia I’m hopeful that they can continue keep it under control.
Surprisingly, I haven’t been bored in quarantine…far from it!
In fact I’ve been actively using this time to do a host of things that I can do online to help settle in (i.e. apply for MediCare, get my new Australian Tax number, plus shop for my new place…. 🙂
My quarantine is passing relatively fast, but as you know it all comes down to your personal mindset.
This is a short term pain for a long term gain, both for me personally but also for my friends and neighbours here in Australia.
Most importantly I’m putting this in a positive light and making each day count. 🙂
Until next week