Sunday, 16 September 2007

To Sydney by bus

Being a bit of a greenie as you know, and concerned about the toxic effects of air travel, I was interested to hear of OzBus, which is running trips direct from London to Sydney overland, taking three months to complete the journey.

I also noticed the story because one third of the 38 passengers for today's departure are Irish (plus one third Australian and one third British).

The trip costs a whopping £3750, which is some seven times the price of a scheduled flight from London to Sydney, but of course allows you to see all the spectacular scenery rather than just flying over it.

However if you're imagining some luxury journey along the lines of a Mediterranean cruise or the Orient Express, think again. This is strictly a DIY, rough-and-ready enterprise where not much is laid on and you're expected to muck in and help organise it all.

When the bus comes to its overnight halt in Nepal or Laos, forget five star hotels or room service. It'll probably be a campsite where you have to put up your own tent (tent and sleeping equipment not provided, by the way), then help with food-shopping, cooking, washing-up and anything else that needs doing. Oh, and cleaning the bus as well.

It's all designed to encourage camaraderie and make the trip more fun, says OzBus owner and founder Mark Creasey. As he puts it, "Bush camping allows us to return to the great outdoors and really be at one with nature."

I'm not sure about that. Be at one with the frying pan and the sleeping bag perhaps, but nature's just as close to a holiday chalet in the Rockies. Still, if you want to avoid an identikit tourist package and have a more down-to-earth experience, this looks just the thing.

Oh, I forgot to mention, the bus doesn't look too comfortable either. It's hardly your state of the art touring coach, more one of those rather beaten-up old rural buses on its last tour of duty before the scrapyard. But maybe the picture gives a false impression....

Photo: a village in Nepal


  1. saw this before but no idea of the price - bit much for a bus!

  2. Yes, particularly when you have to do just about everything else except the driving (or maybe you take turns at that as well). Think I'll stick to the plane, the planet'll just have to take its chances.

  3. That sounds like a prison sentence to me, Nick. That's quite a large sum to pay for slumming it to pretend you're actually the working class.

  4. Pretending to be working class - hadn't thought of that. Was thinking more the old sixties hippie on-the-road syndrome. You can certainly count me out of that, I wasn't too keen on it at the time - always preferred a bit of comfort.

  5. Lurching along for months on a bus, camping out, (latrines??)I'd-give-my- kingdom-for-a-shower bleats,and all with a pack of strangers with uber time on their hands.

    Snarly border crossings, perhaps a drunken driver brain-smashed from the row upon row of whiners, whingers and complainers.

    Sounds like heaven to me.

    Where do I sign up?

  6. It'd certainly be a trip of a lifetime that's for sure

  7. www - I'm sure your graphic picture is not too far from the truth. It'll end up like one of those reality TV shows with punch-ups and slanging matches. In fact there was a plan to turn it into a reality show but it fell through.

    con - Absolutely unforgettable. In fact they'll probably still be waking up with nightmares ten years down the line. That night when they accidentally got left behind somewhere in Tibet....

  8. Not for me thanks. I have a thing about sitting in a bus full of people, going where the bus is taking me, stopping where there is scheduled stop, waiting for someone to wake up and get on the fek bus, and overall depend on speed and movements of another 20-30 people.
    It sounds to me like novelty, maybe even nostalgia, or like medbh said pretending to be actually the working class. I'd get sick of it day 2. The most number of people I can handle traveling with me is 1.

  9. Me too, Gaye, I hate travelling in a huge bunch of people, as you say waiting for them all to get their shit together so you can all move on. Just me and Jenny, that's quite enough - two's company, three's a crowd. We'll never forget a particularly horrific coach tour to St Ives in Cornwall with this crazed right-wing bigot spouting away behind us the entire trip. Boy, were we glad to get off that coach.

  10. Wasn't this how the original hippies got to Goa in the 1970s?? Wasn't this type of travel where Lonely Planet and their ilk started off from (where to find a campsite in Tehran etc).

    Strange how much our standards and expecatations have changed in 30-40 years

  11. TH, I suppose there're still plenty of people who like that sort of trip, roughing it a bit and living on the cheap because it seems more authentic. Personally I tried enough of that in my own hippie period, now I just want a bit of comfort and good food.