We hadn’t had much time in Melbourne, but we had liked what we had seen. Given extra time, we might have hired a car and gone to see the blue penguins on Phillips Island. But, as it was, at 9am we were picked up from our hotel by shuttle bus and transferred onto the airport bus at the Spencer Street Station. Our flight was scheduled for 11am, and we arrived a few minutes before 10am.

To our surprise, the check-in clerk told us there was just time to put us on the 10am flight. He tagged the luggage, and we sprinted to the security gate.

There followed an embarrassing delay while Brigid located two pairs of nail clippers at the bottom of her day bag … Since 11th September, these nail clippers had travelled in her hand baggage from Kalului to Honolulu, from Honolulu to Nadi, from Nadi to Auckland, and from Christchurch to Melbourne. Yet it took the vigilance of Ansett’s staff, on a domestic flight, to recognise them.

The nail clippers were hastily packaged up in a bright yellow plastic bag, and removed by a member of the security staff – to be returned upon arrival in Sydney.

(In fact, neither our luggage, nor the nail clippers made it on to the same flight. So, for all the good intentions of the Ansett check-in clerk, we were stuck in Sydney airport until the next flight landed.)

The Travellers Information desk at the airport booked us into the excellent Pentura Hotel on downtown Pitt Street. They got us a terrific deal on the room: a 4-star hotel on a 2-star budget! We dumped our bags in the room, and set off on a reconnaissance mission.

With so little time to spare, we booked an evening “Opera Afloat” tour. Opera does not rate highly on John’s list of ‘things to do’. But Thursday evenings were half-price, and the idea of seeing Sydney’s lights from the boat, with dinner thrown in, was more than he could resist – even if he did have to put up with some soprano warbling in Italian!

We walked over to trendy Potts Point for dinner, where we ate fish and chips at the Fountain Café.