In this the 2nd part of my Aussie adventures, will be the stories of the West and Tasmania. I have a map of Australia with the roads highlighted that I have travelled, mine alone are marked now in black. In addition this map is
marked with pink highlight for those tracks that me and my partner have travelled. I have been to every capital city in Australia and traversed every state and territory by bus and by train mostly.
Continuing on from part 1
I began with a train trip to Sydney where I booked myself on the Indian Pacific to Perth. This trip commenced in December, summertime in Australia and again
I was at a loose end being ‘between jobs’ again. This was a couple of years after my first bus tour and this time I figured travelling by train was a better option, more comfortable seating and u can get up and wander around.
Getting to Sydney, I wandered around for a day or two, did the obligatory day tour taking in the sights. Particularly memorable was the ‘Sydney by night’ tour which was done in a double
decker bus with free champagne and took in the Sydney tower for dinner and then a cabaret show before hitting the casino. There were mostly couples, family groups and small parties on this tour but they made me feel comfortable, though the alcohol might
have helped. At the end of the night I was dropped off in Kings Cross and made my way back to my accommodation. We got a complimentary bottle of champagne upon leaving the bus and I was immediately asked by someone who in the dark of night looked
like a woman if I ‘wanted to party’. I declined the offer and moved on quickly but I remember thinking she sounded like a bloke. In Kings Cross that is considered normal.
From Sydney then I travelled all the way to Perth
in Western Australia, on the way the train did stop in Broken Hill, Adelaide and in Kalgoorlie. In Kalgoorlie we got a 1 hour bus tour of the town, I remember the street with doors
all coloured brightly, turns out that was the ‘brothel’. There was a big open cut mine outside of town which we could see from a distance. After 3 to 4 days, the train finally arrived in Perth, I had travelled over the Christmas period,
had Christmas dinner on the train by myself surrounded by families and travelling groups. I must have picked up a cold on the train as the last day was pretty awful and I was sharing a sleeper cab with another bloke who had got on in Adelaide.
I stayed in Perth for about 2 weeks, taking day tours mostly and wandering in the city. The trouble with Perth is its sooo far from anything. On these day tours
I visited Wave Rock, Albany, Margaret River, Fremantle and Rottnest Island. I remember feeling the ‘Fremantle doctor’ and visiting the old Fremantle Gaol. But it is the tour to Rottnest Island that really sticks in my memory.
The trip to Rottnest Island was where I discovered ‘sea-sickness’. I remember boarding the catamaran and sitting inside, the boat was fairly full so I just sat and looked out the window. It started to get a little rough not fair
out and the engine struggled then died. This left us all sitting in the enclosed passenger area with no airconditioning in choppy seas. I began to feel nauseous and then, upon seeing a baby throw up on its parent’s shoulder, I could do nothing
but run to the male toilets. Unfortunately at that time the Male facilities were out of action due to maintenance. So, I busted over to the female toilet and locked myself in a cubicle. I do remember having a small conversation with at least
one other in the next cubicle. I got off the boat finally feeling worse for wear and not really excited about the return journey.
Rottnest Island though was a pleasure with its flora and fauna, especially the ‘quokkas’. The return boat ride passed without drama, but I have been less enthusiastic
about boats ever since. Someone later told me that I should have just gone outside and got some fresh air. Thinking about it now, it was just an unfortunate combination of me already having a cold combined with the stuffy environment and the choppy
seas. Seeing that little baby just sent me over the edge…
I said goodbye to Perth after spending the New Year there.
I had booked a bus to Darwin, only this time I took it in stages.. 1st stop Carnarvon, I was trying to get to Monkey Mia where they feed the dolphins but the bus doesn’t
go anywhere near there. I stayed at a Bed n Breakfast particularly memorable for the competition sized pool table and the homestyle food. I stayed overnight before catching the next bus to Broome.
In Broome I took a tour
which included the Pearl shop and the old indoor/outdoor cinema. I watched a movie there followed by a meal in a pub. The final leg of this bus journey was to Darwin, the city I had previously
visited in the ‘dry season’, I now entered the city in the middle of the ‘wet season’, some things had changed. All I remember is the humidity, the sweat dripping off me just from walking out of the motel. I stayed in the
same hotel as the last time I visited although the same bloke my cousin knew no longer ran the place and I didn’t get a discount that time. I didn’t stay long in Darwin that time before flying back home to Brisbane.
was my first commercial jet flight. Having never been in an aeroplane bigger than a Cessna 121 and a helicopter before, it was a thrill and a bit nerve-racking. Overall I enjoyed
the experience and have since travelled by plane both domestically and internationally. I love the take-off and landing and I am even a fan of airline food. On this flight, I was seated next to a young lady who didn’t much like flying, it was her
first flight too. I remember she held on to me as we took off and landed and told me that she was coming back to Brisbane to pack up and move to Darwin for a job. I wished her well when we left the plane, don’t even remember her name.
Yet another acquaintance I made on these travels who is now but a distant memory. My partner on the other hand does not like flying at all, she prefers boats, but that’s another story.
A year later or thereabouts, I decided
to take a trip to Tasmania. I think I caught a bus to Melbourne and, again, took the obligatory day tour of the city. I say ‘I think I caught a bust to Melbourne’ as I have
no distinct memory of doing so, the fact is I might have even flown to Melbourne. I have no way of checking this small detail now. I remember having dinner at a chinese restaurant in the city. This was most notable since it was across
the road from a big name hotel. While eating my dinner, a big black limo pulled up out front of the big hotel and out got several men in bright jackets , they looked around before another man got out, I think it was the ex-president of America at that
time George Bush Snr. I only got a glimpse so I can not be certain. The restauranteur later told me they do see the big names from time to time.
From Melbourne, I flew to Launceston for
a 5-day bushwalking tour of the Walls of Jerusalem National Park. I was into bushwalking by then and it was coming into summer, so I thought this was a good time to do it.
The National Park was beautiful, we slept in tents and washed in the waterholes. There were four of us on tour, just 4 blokes and strangely it only rained on the last day as we were walking out of the park. I originally wanted to do the Overland
Track otherwise known as Cradle Mountain – Lake St Clair but there wasn’t enough interest at the time to run that tour so instead we got
Walls of Jerusalem. I wasn’t disappointed and it was a great introduction to the ‘apple isle’.
After the bushwalking tour I made my way to Hobart, where I signed up for a Port Arthur by night tour as it fitted with my return itinerary. This was considered a ‘ghost tour’ but apart from it being
dark and a bit of amateur dramatics on the part of the tour guide, I never saw or felt anything resembling ghosts. This was despite the horrible events that had happened there not 2 years before. I’m talking about the Port Arthur Massacre, which ultimately lead the government of the day to institute our Gun Laws. I stayed in a motel near the site and
returned to Hobart in the morning for a bus trip to Devonport where I then caught a plane back to Brisbane.
Since these early
travels, I have explored more of my own country and other parts of the world, strangely this trip to Tasmania marked the end, somewhat, of solo travel and the beginning of travelling with others such as my dad and more recently my better half. I will
save these for the next part of my ‘joy of travelling’ series… so Stay Tuned. Please, if you have any comments, leave them below. It lets me know that people are reading… this encourages me to continue.