Eastern Australia - Jindabyne to Sydney via Canberra PDF Print E-mail
Written by Peter Smith   
Thursday, 23 April 2009 10:39
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Day 86: Sunday 16th December - 
Jindabyne to Sydney via Canberra

It should have been an 8.00am start but after last nights shindig there was no chance. We took our bags down to the bus and it was raining yet again. The weather's been pretty poor since leaving the Northern Territory. It started raining in Melbourne and has continued since and colder as we've moved north.

Arrived at the Parliament buildings in Canberra at 11.15am and spent an hour looking round, which was about the length of time needed. Although it consists of lots of marble and large open spaces it is still quite plain. I related a story to Andy about one of my early visits to the Houses of Parliament and a tour with Brightside MP Joan Maynard. She told the students that everything in the palace is the real McCoy: paintings, statures, furnishings, marble, onyx etc and all of it designed to corrupt any MP from a working class background. She suggested it should be burnt down and a purpose designed functional building built. She would like the one here in Canberra. Went on the roof to get a good view of the city, the old parliament building, the Telstra Tower and the lakes but unfortunately it was raining heavily.

Set off for Sydney and sadly the final leg at 12.30pm. As we got nearer to our final destination the rain got heavier and the visibility poorer. With just 50 kilometres left we hit a traffic jam and the last few miles were slow and an inauspicious way to finish a journey of a lifetime.

We arrived in the pouring rain at Mrs Macquarie's Point across from the harbour bridge and the Opera House. It somehow didn't look the way I expected it to. It just looked and felt like an ordinary town with a big bridge and harbour. My first comment was it could be Newcastle. Ah, such is the power of the sun!

As normal when the bus pulled in everyone ran for a toilet which was about 150 yards away in a park. My first observation was no taxis so how do we get to our new home for the next week, the Maze Backpackers Hostel, 417 Pitt St, China town? We were told by Andrew that this was just a photo shoot opportunity. I then mistakenly thought he meant with the press but it turned out it was for us. The only person to approach Andrew and question some of the changes was Sue and he told her this was not the place or time. 'Send me an email'. Fat chance of a reply.

So it passed on the 16th Dec 2007, at approximately 6.00pm, standing at the front and hanging by his fingers tips from the overhead parcel shelves of the Oz Adventure bus that had carried the remaining 29 survivors the final 3000 of their epic 12,500 mile journey from the warm and sunny Embankment in London to the wet, windy and cold Mrs Macquarie's Point in Sydney and looked upon by stalwart Oz driver and guide Rick, Group Leader Leighton James, deliberately and nonchalantly and definitely not in the tradition of earlier great leaders dismissed the family for the very last time, therefore, dispersing them for ever to sail the trade winds of the great oceans, fly the Boeing packed air corridors of the world and rattle down the ancient Old Spice routes of long dead ancestors and in doing so ended the Saga of Ozbus 2 with the immortal words:

'Tomorrows itinerary is as follows, do whatever you fucking want'.

The bus then dropped us at Circular Quay and after a few tearful goodbyes we made our way to the next stage of our journey and our home for the next week. The Maze Hostel is as central as it could be but nothing can change it from being a dump in the middle of Sydney. Our room for $70 a night was a cell that would be condemned by The Prison' Ombudsman. It consisted of a bare 8 x 6ft room, a window opening out onto the noise of Pitt St and the hostel across the road, two tone painted walls of dirty cream and manky mustard and iron bunk beds. No shelves, cupboards, chairs or plugs to recharge batteries etc. The gent's toilet was eau de urine even though they were cleaned on a regular basis; unfortunately the main male clientele could not work out the complicated procedure ofr lifting the toilet seat.

When we climbed into bed we noticed that the room's fan was dead and we both breathed a sigh of relief that it was raining outside and cool. As I lay on the top bunk and rejected the Australian flag coloured duvet by pushing it down the bed towards the window, the noise began to roll out from the hostel across the busy road as the smokers, drinkers and singers filled the pavement. I eventually fell asleep sometime in the early hours in the knowledge that I didn't have to rise to anyone's trumpet. As it happened I was semi conscious just a couple of hours later but not because of the noise from individuals but from the sound of the city.

As I lay there the city began to play an urban symphony. Street repairs began as generators and pneumatic drills percussion in unison, low voices repeating late night gossip hummed in the background, car engines ticked over at the traffic lights and police cars and ambulances, life saving, dashing about in the shadowy distance with sirens at half volume. In the squeaking-bunk-bed, half slumber of my head the din moves down an octave and starts thrumming like a giant didgeridoo and lulls me back to sleep. After three months, 12 weeks, 84 days of being moved on like Romany's (albeit by Leighton not the law) I always knew that being put in one place for a whole two weeks was going to be hard to cope with but what I have seen of this lovely city I can't think of a better place to be stationed.

The End

Last Updated on Thursday, 23 April 2009 14:20