7am seems to be the standard time for the greyhound bus to leave in a morning (and sometimes a bit earlier)! Anyone who knows me will be well aware of my general aversion to any time of day before 10am. So you can imagine the look on my face when my alarm went off at half 5 without too much difficulty!
But up I got for the next leg of the journey. This time from Townsville to Mount Isa. I had no idea where either of those places were either so let me provide you with a little map.
A Little Map!
It takes 12 hours to get from A to B but thankfully it seemed to take less. I am not sure whether I attribute this to the fact that I had a good book, a good travel pillow, there were no train creeps (it being a bus and all) or that they stopped more often than they used to on those godforsaken 30 hour tips to Spain and Italy I had to sit through for school trips. Whatever it was I was thankful for it!
I cant quite remmeber at this distance of time how many places we stopped at, to drop off people or for rest breaks, what I can remmeber was watching the sun set over the outback and it was absolutely beautiful! For some reason I didnt think to take a photo at the time but I have others which I took later in my travels. I do wish that I had got a picture from that night, but even if I had it would not have done it justice because my camera isn't very good and anyway most of my outback pics were taken from a moving vehicle and so, like the one below, are slightly blurry!
This isn't at sunset but you get the idea. All those mounds you see are termite mounds and they were literally everywhere, sometimes (as here) strenching almost as far as the eye can see!
I will talk more about the outback later, driving though it that day was an awesome experience though, not least because it is so so different to anything we have at home. What also made a huge impression on me that first day was THE HEAT! It was fine when you were on the coach because of the air conditioning which, if anything, usually makes it slightly chilly on Australian busses. But once you leave the artifical cool and step outside it is a different story.
I cant remmeber which stop along the route it was, I only remmeber stepping of the coach and feeling like i was choking as the hot air carried by quite a strong breeze forced its way into my lungs. It felt unatural, too warm, wrong, as if I had just developed the ability to breathe water or something. The sun pressing down on my head made me feel dizzy too! This should probably have been the point at which I thought bloody hell what am I getting myself into coming out here for a month. It wasnt. That particular thought didnt surface until weeks later!
I did get used to the heat. In fact, I am sitting in Melbourne, its 19 degrees, I'm wearing a jumper because it feels cold. I am not sure whether I am pleased or ashamed of this fact. But that first day I had yet to properly aclimatise either to the cold of the a/c or the warmth outside and so I was very glad to make it to Mount Isa and to the comfort of a hostel there which while run down felt really homely.
There I met a French lady in her 40's with two boyfriends (neither of whom knew about the other!) and a man who was recovering from a heart attack. What followed was an entertaining 36 hours chatting about all kinds of things and eating chocolate croissants which i am becoming slightly addficted to even if the French lady turned her nose up at the Australian version. This lady helped me a bit with my French (which is still terrible) and I helped her a bit with her English (which was really good!)
IN THE NEXT INSTALLMENT:
Jess is post
Jess goes to an aboriginal mission
Jess rides in a helicopter
Jess changes a lot of nappies