I spent far, far too much time at Sydney Airport this week. In the midst of the school holidays, there were better places to be.
The reason? I had a family member (and her daughter) down from Lismore. She needed to travel to Newcastle for a specialist appointment. And, as she’s quite old, and immobile, the best/easiest way was to catch a flight from Lismore to Sydney, and then a flight from Sydney to Newcastle (and back).
With only a brief stop-over on Tuesday, I met them at the airport, where we sat for a while, had lunch, and chatted. The people from Regional Express were terrific, organising a lift and a wheel-chair, so she could move around easily. As it’s over thirty years since she’s visited Sydney, she under-estimated the time and distances at the airport. “Can I pop outside for a cigarette?”, she asked me, perhaps thinking the scale of difficulty would be on a par with Lismore or Ballina Airports. Airport security was too difficult, I explained.
Faced with a five-hour stop-over between flights on Thursday, I met them at the airport, and brought them back to my place. In contrast to the hussle and bussle of the airport, I live on a reasonably quiet street, and we had a really lovely time together. My family doesn’t often come to Sydney (almost always I visit them), so it was a really important moment for me to play host to them, instead of the other way around.
The whole experience highlighted for me some of the difficulties faced by people with mobility issues in and around Sydney. In contrast to Lismore where she can get around fairly easy, there was so much to think about, including booking wheel-chairs, and finding suitable drop-off points at the airport, including researching spaces where taxis and ubers can (and cannot) go. My hat goes off to all of the people who helped us along the way.