Before I think about my next overseas trip, even if it is to escape the results of the latest federal election, there is a philosophy
of travel. I know what it was that gave me the travel bug in the first place. It all started in my mid-teens on several runs with my cousin, an interstate truck driver
at the time. I want to thank him for this introduction to the road.
Although these were no sightseeing trips, mostly overnight runs to various towns and cities to pick up and drop
off loads. He drove a big Mack, may have been a Super-liner and he was a very Aussie bloke. We ate food at truck stops and added tomato sauce to just about anything served up,
from meat pies to toast, egg and bacon. Coke was a staple drink along with some flavoured milk at times. In these truck stops and servos we met other truck drivers and sometimes swapped stories and laughs about events on the road.
You see, for a bullied teen who had social issues and low self esteem, these trips were very exciting and nerve-racking. My cousin made it easy and was comfortable to talk to, I’m sure I talked his head
off during these long hours. We talked about many things and I always came back with a profound respect for the work these blokes do. It’s a hard life out on the road, away from family, completely different to the 9 to 5 world that others inhabit.
The ‘travel bug’ has bitten many times since and has now included a number of overseas trips with more yet to come, finance and time allowing. However it was my trips around
this ‘wide brown land’ we call Australia that were some of the most rewarding early experiences of my life. I was told many times before, during and since that
most people travel Australia when they get older but I saw lots of young backpackers on these trips so that’s not necessarily the full story. I made many good acquaintances on road trips, most of which were never heard of or seen again.
The first Aussie adventure by bus began with a long bus journey from Brisbane to Darwin, I remember this took several days of no shower, no real refresher just a series of short meal breaks at ungodly hours in
some pretty ordinary truck stops/servos. Usually trying to get off the bus quick, order something resembling food and scoff it down before the obligatory toilet visit and back on the bus. You had to watch the driver and make sure you got back on as he started
up. You can imagine after 3 days of this what a person looks like.. well, that would have been me. Not so hard to do in your early twenties but today – be buggered!!
I took this first journey was because there was a big price war between two rival bus companies McCaffertys and Greyhound.
At the time the ticket was $50 and I thought this was a bargain. Not to mention, I was also ‘between jobs’ at that time. I stayed in Darwin for a couple of weeks,
doing day tours and wandering about the place, even applied for a job and having an interview while up there. It was winter in Australia and Darwin was its usual 30degrees during the day but with little humidity. Another cousin knew a bloke who ran a local
hotel/motel and after the first night or two at a backpackers I transferred there as it was more comfortable and I was getting a reduced rate.
While in Darwin, I decided to see some
more of the country and ended up with a 7day bus pass and on my way to Alice Springs. Arriving in the red centre of Australia in the early hours of morning in the middle of winter totally unprepared
for the desert cold was not my best moment. I walked off the bus wearing shorts and a light jumper and was immediately chilled to the bone. It seems I could not warm up all day even after having a hot shower. Again I did some day tours and saw Uluru (more commonly known as Ayers Rock at the time) even climbing to the top despite the fear of heights. Seeing the different colours of the rock in the morning and afternoon was a highlight. I don’t have many pictures from this
trip as my camera was old and my photography skills weren’t great.
I continued by bus to Adelaide, a nice city, well-presented and again took day tours for a quick acquaintance. I remember
eating a sandwich in the centre of town and being mobbed by seagulls, first one got a crumb and then the others came, all screaming for more. I shared my leftovers which were quickly devoured. I only stayed in Adelaide a day or two and then I was off to Canberra, the nation’s capital.
It’s funny how life goes, given that I am now living in Canberra, I
can now see Parliament House on my drive to work every day and the War Museum whenever I want. I do remember the first time in Canberra though, it was the middle of winter and despite the sun shining the wind ripped straight through me and it was cold. After
taking a day tour of the sights, I remember setting off from my accommodation to walk to the AWM and wearing 3 layers yet still chilled to the bone. From there I walked down the parade and across the bridge to the houses of parliament both old and new. I then
returned to my accommodation via the city centre. I was certainly glad of the central heating when I got back to my room.
Perhaps not surprisingly, I got back to Brisbane, again by
bus, and immediately the full force of the common cold hit me. I had begun to feel it in the bus but it laid me out for a couple of days, I guess the changes of temperature combined with the exhaustion of bus travel and constantly carrying a heavy bag combined.
That’s the thing about travel that I learnt too, is that one should only pack the barest of essentials. I have fallen into the trap of packing too much too many times
and having to carry this pack over and over does tend to dampen your enthusiasm.
Well, that’s it for Part 1 of my Aussie adventures, stay tuned for Part 2 in which I explore
WA, Tasmania and more of my home state of Queensland.