‘We just want to get home to our loved ones’

 

 

The hardest parts of our three-week Himalayan holiday should have been trekking to Mount Everest base camp, climbing a couple of 5500m-high mountains and dealing with extreme altitudes.

Instead, the biggest challenge is simply getting home.

Our group of eight Australians is stranded in Nepal, with flights cancelled, airports shutting down and no idea how or when we will get out of this place.

We all miss our families but we are relatively lucky ones - we made it to base camp and were on the way back down when we heard the Australian government call to come home now.

Australians Anthony Keane, Paul Ashenden and Brad Fleet are among a group of Aussies stranded in Nepal. Picture: supplied
Australians Anthony Keane, Paul Ashenden and Brad Fleet are among a group of Aussies stranded in Nepal. Picture: supplied

Other Aussies were only a few days into their treks and had to turn back, never reaching their goal and then - like us - being told major carriers such as Malaysia Airlines and Singapore Airlines were leaving passengers stranded.

We sped back down the mountains but still seem to have arrived too late to get a flight home.

Word travels fast up here and it's difficult to know what's true or just scary.

Front page newspaper reports say Nepal's major airport is now banning all international flights in and out of the country.

My frantic searching on airline websites - from Malaysia Airlines to Emirates - seems to suggest that's true.

News Corp journalist Anthony Keane at Everest Base Camp before he discovered the world had changed significantly. Picture: supplied
News Corp journalist Anthony Keane at Everest Base Camp before he discovered the world had changed significantly. Picture: supplied

Airline offices in Kathmandu are closed and all we got from the Australian embassy here yesterday was a slip of paper with the smarttraveller.gov.au website address.

We are now considering a crazy road trip across Nepal, India and Bangladesh to get on a possible Cathay Pacific flight from Dhaka via Hong Kong, but potential problems with visas, blocked borders and more flight cancellations are a worry.

Nepal has had just one reported case of coronavirus and is worried its health system would struggle with a major outbreak.

South Australians stuck in Nepal due to coronavirus shut down. Anthony Keane, Paul Ashenden, Tony Symons, Jody Hutton, Ryan Cox, Brook Hutton, Brad Fleet and Jonathon Creasey. Picture: Brad Fleet
South Australians stuck in Nepal due to coronavirus shut down. Anthony Keane, Paul Ashenden, Tony Symons, Jody Hutton, Ryan Cox, Brook Hutton, Brad Fleet and Jonathon Creasey. Picture: Brad Fleet

But surely people should be able to return home and self-isolate.

One positive thing has been the sense of togetherness and mateship among travellers - something that from afar appears to be lacking in supermarkets across Australia.

It seems every second group of people we meet here are Aussies with similar worries.

We know we're not the only Australians abroad wanting to get back to our children and other loved ones who are also dealing with big problems at home.

Does anybody have a private jet? Or what about Qantas and its Spirit of Australia?

Anthony Keane is national personal finance editor at News Corp.

@keanemoney

 

Originally published as 'We just want to get home to our loved ones'



So long, and thanks for all the yarns

Premium Content So long, and thanks for all the yarns

Sports journalist Mitchell Keenan writes his final piece at The Daily Examiner

Bushfire recovery vouchers helps kids get back to school

Premium Content Bushfire recovery vouchers helps kids get back to school

$50,000 in vouchers have been distributed by NRCF and Social Futures to more than...

WE ASKED: Could there be a bridge at Lawrence?

Premium Content WE ASKED: Could there be a bridge at Lawrence?

After a recent breakdown of the Bluff Point Ferry near Lawrence, the question was...