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Brisbane May 16, 1988 - On the road again....

By Bob Van Leer

Airliners  (BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA, May 16, 1988) - Betty and I arrived in Brisbane this morning after a trip of about 9000 miles that couldn't have gone smoother. Every schedule was met, usually with time to spare.

  We left Gold Beach at 9 a.m. Saturday, May 14, for a drive to the Medford Airport, stopping at Medford to visit old friends Gerry and Lois Latham there. Vice President George Bush's plane was at the airport - surrounded by troops. Bush was in Medford for public appearances and a fishing trip on the Rogue with guide Mel Norrick.

  On this trip, to get to Los Angeles we have to go by way of Portland to pick up a larger plane. On the flight north we could see Lost Creek Lake on the Rogue, which is full and nearby, the partially completed, but now abandoned, Elk Creek Dam. 

  At Los Angeles we join the main tour. This is a Study Mission sponsored by the National Newspaper Association, similar to ones we have gone on in the past. This one is more popular. Past trips were only about 15 newspaper people but this one has 46. Along on the tour are friends from previous tours and other publishers we have met at newspaper meetings.

  We board a Qantas (Australian) Boeing 747B SP for the long flight to Sidney.

  The captain tells us that this model 747 is the longest range commercial plane in service and we are going on the longest non-stop scheduled flight in the world. The flight is 7500 miles and takes us 14.5 hours. The 747 SP looks like the regular version except it is stubby and carriers a smaller passenger load. There are about 250 passengers aboard including, we are told, Paul Hogan of Crocodile Dundee fame, but we do not see him.

  Our flight leaves at 11 p.m. so there is no sight-seeing on the way over. On the way we cross the International Date Line and lose a day. Sunday disappears and it is suddenly Monday. Sydney is 17 hours ahead of Gold Beach time. To add to the confusion, we cross the Equator and the seasons are reversed. At home it is spring, but here it is fall already. Going west, we are racing with the sun so the night is longer. The sun is just coming up as we land in Sydney.

  After a short wait we board another 747 for the 500 mile flight north to Brisbane. This flight continues on to Japan. We are still in international flight so we do not go through customs until we deplane at Brisbane. Customs are no problem, so we are now admitted to Australia.

  A bus takes us to our hotel, the Brisbane Hilton, downtown. (Yes, they also have a McDonald's as well as a Hilton.) After checking in, Betty and I take a stroll downtown. The weather is warm, as we are on the same latitude from the Equator as northern Mexico. The people are very friendly; a couple of times when we stopped and looked puzzled passersby stopped and asked if they could help with directions. Brisbane is busy, bustling and growing. The World's Fair that just started two weeks ago here has been given a big push. Attendance is exceeding all expectations.

  We stop at a museum-gift shop of Aboriginal art and buy some souvenirs. The Aboriginal paintings seem further advanced than the rest of the culture. We go back to the hotel by way of Queen Street which has been turned into a mall and seems to be working well, unlike most we have seen in the U.S. The mall is mobbed with people. Finally it is back to the hotel to rest up after a long, long trip. Tomorrow we will visit the Expo.

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