I’ve just emerged from a three-hour trip from Melbourne to the north-eastern Victoria. It’s ski season, here in the high-country, and being a Friday evening, the bus was packed to the brim with skiers planning a weekend at Mt Buller.
Bus travel is generally unpleasant even at the best of times. The best someone can hope for is that the trip is short, that it isn’t crowded and that the bus-driver doesn’t decide to put on a blaring video to keep passengers amused.
Alas, it wasn’t to be. The person sitting next to me fell asleep and his head crashed onto my shoulder every few minutes, for the first half of the journey and the driver decided to turn up the heating to sauna levels, until someone pleaded with him to turn it down.
I’ve long been of the mind that travel isn’t just about being somewhere; half the fun is getting there, too. Bus travel kills this notion. There’s just nothing to enjoy about being crowded into a seat with no leg room, whilst dealing with the smell of your fellow passengers and the cleaning chemicals from the tiny toilet at the back of the vehicle and worrying about your luggage being stolen from the underneath compartment at stops along the route.
The sad part of this is that thirty years ago, there was a railway line from Melbourne to this area, but unfortunately, it was removed by a shortsighted government for minor economic gain. With the number of people coming to the area to ski now, the line would make a very welcome alternative to a pretty horrible bus journey.