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The Positive side of OZ

Monday, May 31st, 2010

All is not bad in the land down under, as I have mentioned Perth & Adelaide are pretty nice cities, Alice Springs still remains sensible despite all the tourists mainly because it is the agricultural  hub for a vast area of the Outback so there is still enough local industry to keep a balance. Kununurra is pretty cool & laid back & Brisbane has a Hop-on-off bus so it can’t be all bad, any city with Hop-on-off bus service is worth investigating.

A hot air balloon ride over the Outback is an absolutely amazing experience, should be on everyone’s “Bucket List”, kind of makes the whole trip down under worth while.

OZ is also a great place for the younger backpackers to replenish their finances so they can keep traveling, have met some that have been on the road 3 or more years & make their travel money in the farm fields of Australia picking crops.

Found out today that even though the red seats on Saturday’s Indian Pacific from Sydney to Adelaide show, unavailable online, by going to the station they magically become available so have one reserved along with one Monday on the Overland to Melbourne so I will be able to complete my Australian tour as planned (mostly).

Touring Brisbane tomorrow & the Hop-on-off bus pass even includes using the river cats, which should be interesting. Then going to stretch my luck again & ride the “Hound Dog” back north a bit to catch a look at the Great Barrier Reef for a couple days before heading to Sydney & the train rides.

Checked the weather in Tasmania & it’s pretty cool so think I will just take the ferry over one night & back the next, cheaper than a room anyway, to wrap up my OZ experience. Think if I had to do it over again I would have gone up the west coast from Perth to Broome & then on to Darwin. Would have been more interesting than the train ride across the Nullarbor Plain.

By the time I leave I will have traveled 136 hrs on the Grey Hound Dog, 101 hrs by train, the best part of an hr in the basket of a balloon + various side trips so even though I found some things to rant about & it was EXPENSIVE it was an experience!

Oh yeah the Brisbane City Backpackers is a pretty neat place to stay!

Trivia for today is that Burger King is called Hungry Jacks here.


Sunday, May 30th, 2010

Since leaving on my RTW last August 19, over 9 months ago & having traveled many many miles by plane, train, ship, taxi, tuk tuk, elephant, camel & all forms of buses from tourist coaches, chicken buses, local Burmese buses, Toyota Land Cruisers in Tibet & crazy Thais driving 12 passenger Toyota vans,  even a 38 hr trip on an old coach from Deli to Kathmandu I never had any concerns for my safety while traveling until I started traveling on Australian Greyhound buses!

Having been involved in the transportation industry for around 45 years, owning my own bus line for 25 of those + being a driver trainer qualified by the MTO to do driver examination tests I have some idea of what I am talking about.

Now while Greyhound is technically operating to the letter of the laws, regarding hours of work, which are  made by simple serpents (which explains a lot), they are NOT applying any common sense to their implementation. An example is that on the run from Darwin to Broome, a trip that takes 52 hrs return over 3 days, they operate it with 2 drivers but instead of switching every 4 hrs, each driver runs 12 hrs straight. Now this may be all right for the first 12 hr day shift but as anyone who has ever driven at night knows that last hour before daylight is a bitch so why have a driver that has been driving all night try to stay awake when there is another rested one available? Because they don’t give a damn about their passengers is why! Oh did I mention that upon arriving at Tennant Creek at 1:30 am they wake everyone up & make them exit the bus to sit in a deserted terminal with NO services while the driver delivers the mail (can’t have that rif-raf around the post office you know), after all the passengers are mostly indigenous people & back-packers so it doesn’t matter any way!

Had a driver this morning who was falling asleep but was too stupid to stop & walk around the bus a couple times to revive a bit & spent the last 5 miles running on the rumble strip & the wrong side of the road before almost sideswiping a parked pickup a couple blocks from the terminal. Also on the trip out of Broome the bus traveled 22 1/2 hrs before a stop longer than 10 minutes for a meal break which really gives the drivers time for a good meal so they can safely do their job not to mention a complete disregard for the passengers.

I won’t even mention the lack of intelligence of the terminal staff & ticket agents other than the fact that they can’t walk & chew gum at the same time, which is why I ended up in Brisbane instead of Townsville (at least it got me out of Tennant Creek a day early & closer to the Sydney Airport.

Yep Greyhound Australia is the perfect example of what happens when the bigger is better syndrome has been in place for a few years & the competition eliminated, everything reduced to the lowest common denominator & common sense is blown away in the wind!

Won’t get into the trains which have a token car for the peasant class & the other 25 for people with more money than brains. See what transpires tomorrow (every thing turns into a pumpkin from Friday at about 5:00 pm until late Monday morning) when I try to book a seat? May just end up booking an early flight out OZ as am not impressed with the country at this point in time.

Knowing what I know now wish I had spent an extra month in Indonesia & just skipped OZ & NZ!!

But that’s what travel is all about. Experiencing the good the bad & the ugly!

Kununurra in the Kimberlies YES!!!

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

New that once I left Darwin & headed back to the Outback things would improve & I was right, it’s back to normal, for Australia, expensive but nice people again. So would advise just go straight to Knunurra from Alice ... [Continue reading this entry]

It never fails!!

Friday, May 21st, 2010
So the place you were looking forward to seeing turns out to totally suck & has absolutely no redeeming values. Welcome to Darwin the a$$hole of Australia (IMHO), others opinions may differ. From what I have seen Darwin is just a ... [Continue reading this entry]

The Ghan, Uluru, Alice Springs

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010
The Ghan is just The Indian Pacific with a different name that travels North & South instead of East & West they are identical in equipment & service with the only problem being only one non-sleeper car on each train ... [Continue reading this entry]

Perth, Adelaide

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010

Perth is a really nice city very green as the Swan River runs through it on it’s way to the Indian Ocean at Freemantle which is another cool place to visit. Both are very tourist friendly with Free buses & ... [Continue reading this entry]

Indian Pacific

Friday, May 14th, 2010

This has to be the best train so far, super comfortable seats, loads of legroom (only 48 passengers per car & quiet. First leg to Kalgoorlie arrived 15 minutes early.

First part the country was pretty rough then it ... [Continue reading this entry]


Monday, May 10th, 2010
Finally in “The Land Down Under”, Perth is OK but cold & expensive compared to SE Asia. Doing a tour of the local area down the river to Freemantle tomorrow, booked on the India Pacific to Adelaide Wed then the ... [Continue reading this entry]

An unhappy busman!!!

Saturday, May 8th, 2010

Well the best part of my SE Asia visit came at the end with Indonesia where my time was way too short. The people there were super & I stayed off the tourist track until Bali where I managed to ... [Continue reading this entry]

Indonesia after Borneo

Tuesday, May 4th, 2010

So you want to get off the tourist trail & experience life as a local?

I found the perfect solution, just book yourself a “Klasse Economik” ticket on a Pelni ship & there you go. That is what I ... [Continue reading this entry]