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3 DAYS AND NIGHTS IN THE WHITSUNDAYS OR HOW QANTAS SENT JOHN'S SUITCASE TO PERTH RATHER THAN PROSERPINE BECAUSE THEY BOTH BEGIN WITH "P"

3 DAYS AND NIGHTS IN THE WHITSUNDAYS OR HOW QANTAS SENT JOHN'S SUITCASE TO PERTH RATHER THAN PROSERPINE BECAUSE THEY BOTH BEGIN WITH "P"

Old Jul 13th, 2004, 07:21 AM
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3 DAYS AND NIGHTS IN THE WHITSUNDAYS OR HOW QANTAS SENT JOHN'S SUITCASE TO PERTH RATHER THAN PROSERPINE BECAUSE THEY BOTH BEGIN WITH "P"



Very early in the morning we sped out to Hobart International Airport to catch our flight from there to Proserpine via Melbourne and Brisbane. With a window seat I got a birds eye view of a couple of million square kms of Australia: that incredible cocktail of blue water, beige outback, green forest, and lush canyons mixed with fruited plains.

With an hour to spend between flights in Melbourne, we got chair massages from some students on the concourse. In Brisbane we passed the time looking at opals and photographing ourselves in a booth out near the gate. We?d never seen this operation before. For A$6. you get 16 stickers of yourself projected against an Australian landmark and some slogan like ?Hopping along with the kangeroos? or ?G?day mate? to stick on your postcards. These were adored by our friends and we want to know how we can get the franchise to install these around our fruited plains and fields of grain. Seriously, we?ll use our profits to return to Oz! Who do we contact?

The flight from Brisbane to Proserpine took us out over the coast. Unfortunately that flight was the closest we got to Fraser Island on this trip. The big news in Proserpine was that John?s suitcase decided to go to Perth without him . And yes they really did blame it on the fact that Perth and Proserpine both begin with ?P?. What other opportunities like this exist on Qantas? network? Alice Springs/ Ayers Rock; Darwin/ Dunk Island; Melbourne /Mildura; the opportunities for vacationing suitcases are impressive.

Luckily we had converted to day packs for our sailing adventure. Airlie Beach is a real meat market and jumping off point for the Whitsunday Islands. We were sailing on the ?Solway Lass? a renovated 102 year old Tall Ship. After dumping our bags at the Southern Cross office off the Esplanade and arranging for a warm reception for John?s vacationing suitcase we filled up on thai food, stocked ourselves with sailor snacks (junk food) and caught the bus to the boat in a tropical downpour.

I had put out a query about this adventure on both Fodor?s and Thorn Tree as the only reference to this I had seen was in a 5 year old ?Let?s Go Student Guide to Australia? at our public library. While folks had seen her when she had been cruising Sydney Harbour, no one had embarked on the adventure we were contemplating. This is a lovely boat. We had a tiny double cabin w/ a/c and baths down the cabinway. even w/ a full complement of about 28 I never had to wait for a toilet or a shower (actually these were combined) w/ 2 each for boys and girls. And it really was boys and girls from our perspective as everyone on board except crew and captain was at least 25 years my junior.


We had a blast. The energy of the younger generation was infectious and except for a slight disadvantage at charades if the topic was ?song titles? we had a wonderful time mixing with a group of Austalian and European 20 somethings. Of course we were in bed about 10 and they were up til midnight. What we gained in sleep we also saved in comparative bar tabs. The food was wholesome and plentiful, the bar was well stocked and the kitchen staff was willing to keep my ice packs (remember my run in with the cannon) in their freezer.

Our cruise through the Whitsundays was 3 days and 3 nights. We stopped at 2 beaches/ islands each day for snorkeling, swimming or beach walking. The snorkeling was superb w/ fringing coral and whole universities of colorful fish. We even had the opportunity to do an introductory scuba dive and hoist the sails. The islands are beautiful and we saw plenty of sea eagles. The view from the lookout above Whitehaven Beach is even more impressive than any of the dreamy photographs I had seen. We had a third each of full sun, overcast and rain everyday. The main deck was covered with canvas and was a great place to learn a little about each others? countries. The young europeans were shocked to learn the abysmal turn out for American elections (27% in our last local election; majority rule in America is really minority rule, but I guess that?s probably the kind of ?democracy? we?ll end up establishing in Iraq w/ Ausralian support unless you manage to bring in Mark Latham) and we were impressed by the heavy fine a young Australian woman had to pay for missing a local election. For about A$375. per person all inclusive except beer & wine and intro. scuba dive, the trip seemed good value to us and a whole lot of fun. The Whitsundays are magnificent and everyone should try to include them in their itineraries.


Next up: The great Flood at the Tully River or our Adventure at the Euramo Hotel.



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Old Jul 13th, 2004, 09:28 AM
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Thanks for the report...

I've been trying to find information on the Solway Lass for a while (we're sailing on her in September), but have met with little success until your report.

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Old Jul 13th, 2004, 09:48 AM
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Elvis

Lucky you. I believe you'll have a great time. Please send our best to captain Buster, Dave and Graeme.

AndrewDavid
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Old Jul 13th, 2004, 08:06 PM
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AD, thanks for another entertaining account. I know that the 3-letter IATA city codes used by all airlines can be confused, but PPP (Proserpine) doesn't look much like PER. Just be grateful that John's bag didn't go PPT (Papeete) or PAP (Port au Prince). And have pity for the Canadians, all of whose city codes begin with "Y". (Y not?)

It isn't true that Australians are forced to vote. All we have to do is to turn up at the polling station, have our names ruled through by the returning officer and collect our ballot papers. At that point we can bin them and go home. Of course most of us proceed to laboriously fill them out with the blunt stub of an HB pencil, puzzling over our arcane preferential voting system. If you fail this test, e.g. by entering "1" against more than one candidate, your vote is discarded.

If you're wondering about the preferential system, look at it this way: if it had been used in the last US election, Al Gore would be President. Of course, if they'd used sheets of paper and blunt HB pencils in Florida instead of fancy newfangled machines there'd have been no hanging chads either.

I wonder if there's any truth in the theory that Bush won a lot of men's votes when he said that he hated broccoli? In his defence, Al Gore never actually admitted to eating broccoli ... but he looked like the sort of guy who just might, and that was enough. John Kerry had better make a point of being seen at lots of barbecues, fanging into a big sirloin and waving away the salads.

Speaking of Kerry, his minders should tell him that wearing a dress shirt without a tie, but with buttoned-up sleeves, will NOT make him look like one of the boys. It just makes him look like a well-off suit who doesn't get out much. A bit like the broad-brimmed hat our PM puts on every time he visits a country town - it just makes him look like a suburban solicitor trying not to look like a suburban solicitor.

Maybe they could give them both guest spots on "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy"? - "No, John, NO! You DON'T iron a crease in your Levis!!"
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Old Jul 14th, 2004, 01:07 PM
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I've always wondered if our city code (MIA) was a Freudian slip. "I'm sorry sir, your bag is Missing In Action."

Neil, our Supervisor of Elections for Broward County was recently removed from office by the Governor of Florida, Jeb Bush. Yes, he is the brother of dubya. We had a local election last fall that was one catastrophe after another. The polls opened late, poll workers didn't know how to operate the new touch-screen ballots and 6 weeks after the election, a box of about 800 uncounted mail-in ballots was found. Unbelievable! I wouldn't complain about paper and pencil - it works better than what we have here!
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Old Jul 14th, 2004, 01:45 PM
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Yet another fun installment!

I sailed around the Whitsundays in another tall ship, several years ago - and had a great time. Perhaps it's time to consider it again!

I bet John's suitcase was happier in Perth than Proserpine - it's an incredibly boring town. I spent a year there, one night!

Carry on!
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Old Jul 14th, 2004, 02:45 PM
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John, I'm not complaining. Paper and pencil may sound low-tech but the system works well, is transparent and auditable. As a one-time party scrutineer I used to see the count up close at local polling stations and that was a reassuring experience.

Until 2000 I hadn't realised that federal elections in the US are managed by state/county governments, who I believe choose the technology? After the "hanging chad" problem, was there any discussion of establishing a federal authority for this purpose, or would that have required the agreement of state governments? (For politics junkies only - the Australian Electoral Commission website is www.aec.gov.au)
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Old Jul 14th, 2004, 03:22 PM
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There is currently a bill pending in the Senate that would require a paper trail for federal elections. It's sponsored by Sen. Ensign and any US ( or for that matter Australian , Canidian et al ) voters might contact their Senators and ask for support.

AndrewDavid
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Old Jul 14th, 2004, 04:55 PM
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The implications of an electronic voting system with no paper trail seem pretty scary to me. It gives a whole new possible meaning to the saying "vote early, and vote often".

Think of the corporate IT-related scams we've seen, like the classic case of a US insurance company whose executives happened on a great5 git-rich-quick scheme: they simply trawled the White Pages and added tens of thousands of new "customers" to their books. The company's growth rate was phenomenal and the stock price rocketed. They did take the precaution of flagging the non-customers in their mainframe database, but the geeks in the basement started smoking dope on the job and accidentally deleted the flags. Eventually thousands of puzzled citizens received policy renewal notices from a company they'd never heard of. OK, the FBI turned up soon after, but it does make you think.
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