CATHAY flight attendants who were stranded for up to eight days in Australia were mobbed by strikers outside the Cathay Pacific building at Kai Tak yesterday. Tears flowed and there were hugs all round as the chants ''Sydney crew, welcome home, we love you. Melbourne crew, welcome home, we love you,'' went up from throats made hoarse from six days of picket-line shouting. The 33 crew members who returned on a Qantas flight and arrived at the building in two buses were cheered as they struggled off the vehicles with their baggage. Emotions spilled over as they caught their first glimpse of the solidarity of those taking part in the industrial action. ''I was stranded for four days with no money and no benefits in Sydney. We had to leave our hotel and went for a total of eight days without allowances after joining the others in Melbourne. ''The FAU (Flight Attendants' Union) paid our fares in full from Melbourne. We survived by transferring to other cheaper hotels and sharing what money we had,'' said Ms Gyla Santa Maria, one of the 33 who returned yesterday. Ms Santa Maria has been a Cathay cabin attendant for 16 months and admitted to wondering just what she and the others would be coming back to. ''But look at this,'' she said, pointing to the noisy high-spirited crowd. ''This is much, much more than I expected. Much more than I ever dreamed possible. All I can say is thumbs up for this atmosphere. It is wonderful, wonderful,'' she said as she wiped tears from her face and disappeared into the crowd to join her colleagues. Before she was swallowed by the crowd she added: ''This really is CX (Cathay). These people here, they are behind us. The experience in Australia was unpleasant but not traumatic because we knew they were behind us and would bring us home.''