Pretty high up on my list of challenges is number 4: Catch a flight somewhere random at the last minute with just your handbag and a credit card, as submitted by my Mum.
Considering that this is the woman who, in raising me, would choose cautionary tales over fairytales, it’s somewhat odd that she would set me such a carefree challenge.
JUST a handbag? What if I end up somewhere cold with no jacket, or somewhere hot with no swimmers? What if I end up at Uluru without proper footwear? What if I end up on Chapel Street with no place to put my shopping?
The thought is almost too much to bear!
A good 2 decades ago, my Aunty Cher surprised my brother and I with a mystery flight. Happily, the flight took us to the Gold Coast, where we enjoyed a full day at Movie World together.
I have this vague recollection of being carted off to the airport that morning with no idea of what was happening. If memory serves me, my Mum told my brother and I that we were going there to pick up my Aunty. I was confused and, considering the time of day, I was not a happy camper. The flight probably left at around 6.30am, which would have meant getting up at the crack of dawn to get to the airport in time. I’m not known for my cheerfulness at such times and I’m sure it took all my Mum’s strength, knowing the reason we were headed to the airport, not to slap me for being a whiny brat (although I’m sure her years of training in showing such restraint with me helped).
When it was finally explained to me, I still didn’t really understand. At that stage I don’t know that I’d ever been on a plane before (perhaps as a baby, but certainly not within memory). It probably took me the whole flight – and the one hour bus trip to Movie World – to understand what was happening.
I may not have been the brightest child.
Anyway, after my initial confusion, I fondly recall the rest of the day… particularly the Police Academy show, which is no doubt still running word-for-word to this day (I’m sure I’ve seen the same show at least 5 times).
It was an amazing experience that I will always cherish. My Aunty is generous like that. There’s a chance she may love her nieces and nephews ALMOST as much as I love mine.
These days, my Aunty and I have become involved in adventures of a different sort. Two years ago we joined forces to create an ‘Amazing Race’ style game for a family girls weekend. The race involved a series of ridiculous challenges in and around the town of Dungog. Sure, the Dungog Lavender Farm was not quite as exotic as some of the real Amazing Race pit stops, but we still had a great time.
I’ve been an on-and-off fan of the (real) Amazing Race for years. Who among us hasn’t pictured ourselves in the shoes of a contestant? Spending dinner table conversation mulling over who you’d like to partner with for the challenges… and who would drive you nuts.
When Mum set me this challenge I’m guessing we both had visions of the Amazing Race dancing in our heads. Unfortunately, in the real World, it’s not as simple as rocking up and buying a ticket on the first flight out of there – at least, not if you want to fly on a budget airline (which, let’s face it, is what I’ll have to do).
It’s also far harder to encounter exotic locations on a shoestring when your departure airport is Sydney. I suppose I could take up a mystery flight option, but it just feels like I wouldn’t get the same kind of value for money – or the fun of choosing my own random hotel.
While I would gladly turn up at the airport with nothing more than a handbag and hop the first flight to destination unknown, I suspect the reality may involve an online ticket purchase rather than a breathless airport counter negotiation.
For now, I’ll just start saving my pennies and pray that I don’t end up on a flight to Canberra.
How well do you know Australia’s towns and cities? What activities would you recommend if I end up at your favourite Australian destination?