Monday, 18 June 2012

Australia- Home Of Cheap Coach Travel .... In 1980

Sitting on any sort of bus for 57 hours is not everybody's idea of fun. Even if the bus was a De-Luxe Coachlines and the brochure promised:

- Fabric covered widely spaced reclining seats.
-Fully air-conditioned and heated in winter.
- Toilet, washroom and drinking water on board.
-Radio and tapedeck music.
- Overhead luggage racks.
- Large panoramic, curtained windows.
- Individual overhead reading lights.


Our new Domino Tourmaster super luxury coaches which operate most services feature a new design soft air suspension to make your trip even smoother and more comfortable. Built especially for our long distance services, we have spared no expense for your comfort and safety.


They are hand picked for their courtesy to passengers and many years of skilful driving ability. Also they are trained to inform you of interesting points enroute which makes our tour more like a tour than an express.

Well it was pretty boring. There were no or relatively few points of interest across the Nullarbor Plain. The only two I can remember are where the coast falls into the sea somewhere in South Australia and when the drivers swopped without stopping the bus. That was quite something, like a game of Twister as one driver's leg came off the accelerator and antother's went on. there wasn't any Health and Safety in those days and in the Bush, it was likely the only thing the bus would hit would have been a kangaroo.

The brochure went on to advise passengers that:

SHOWER STOPS are also made en routr and we suggest that towel, soap etc, is carried on board in overnight bag as suitcases cannot be opened en route.

That was because of the dust which gets into everywhere on the Nullarbor. The advice about the soap was misleading too, as in most places the water was so hard that no normal soap lathered - so there was the need to bring along something more industrial.

But what the hell? It was cheap. It only cost A$97, which was at least a quarter of the price of an airline ticket from the two internal airlines - TAA and Ansett. The Indian Pacific Railway ran twice a week, but it was also expensive and took about the same time as the bus.

Nowadays there are few trans-continental buses. Everyone flies these days either with Quantas, Jetstar or Virgin Australia. Prices are way up, too. Flights seem to average out at between A$ 200-300 one way and the train over $500 one day.

Wasn't I lucky to have experienced so much discomfort for a bargain? Perhaps.


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