Day 1,182: North, Miss Tessmacher!

Tue 27.03.12:

Crystal had to be up for work at 8am, so that meant I had to be up as well. After dropping me in Fortitude Valley (sounds like an area of Alton Towers) we arranged to meet up at 3pm before the bus left for Townsville. By now I was 95% sure that I’d be hopping on that bus whatever happens today.

I slinked my way into a nearby McDonalds to abuse their internet. I had forgotten how painfully slow Aussie internet is. Seriously – it’s faster in Tuvalu. Hell, it’s faster in Nauru. Nevermind, I got to check my emails (I had been so panicky I had got Anna in the UK to check them overnight), but nothing from the ship owners in Germany. I decided to waste some time, so I began to walk from The Valley to the State Library.

Had I bothered to look at the map, I would have cut across the city’s CBD and got there in half the time, but instead I decided to amble across the Story Bridge to the opposite bank and follow the undulating curves of the Brisbane River for a good 8km. Carrying all my bags. In the blazing Queenland heat. But still, this was a side of Brisbane I had never seen before – a most magnificent promenade alongside the river, something that Liverpool could desperately do with north of our city. There was rock-climbing going on, a big free outdoor beach pool, cyclists, picnics, joggers and fellow promenaders. Impressive stuff, and something that has massively raised my opinion of Brisbane. I’ve even come up with a catchy slogan for the marketing board… “BRISBANE: It’s not all bright yellow sex shops!”

After a couple of hours I reached the library. Still no new emails. I checked on the coach situation. Greyhound was either sold out or just being weird, saying it would take 50 hours and cost $400 to get to Townsville. My eyes nearly popped out of their sockets. The words ‘f—’ and ‘that’ have never been so apt. The only other option, Premier Coaches, did have a bus going direct, taking 23 hours and costing only(!) $184 one way. It’s $120 to fly there. Urk.

Given Hobson’s choice, I booked the ticket. Annoyingly, the coach left at 2pm – meant I couldn’t meet up with Crystal again before I left. I was looking forward to that pint.

The coach headed north along the Bruce Highway up into the night. Rest stops and bad pies await, and maybe – if I’m really lucky – a ship to Taiwan.

Graham Hughes

Graham Hughes is a British adventurer, presenter, filmmaker and author. He is the only person to have travelled to every country in the world without flying. From 2014 to 2017 he lived off-grid on a private island that he won in a game show, before returning to the UK to campaign for a better future for the generations to come.

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