A Bus Tour Up the Red Centre of Australia

There are several ways to “see” Australia, but the one I took was such fun, I’d recommend it to you.  This memorable trip for me Down Under was a bus ride up the Red Centre to Alice Springs. I’d spent most of the night shivering, as I tried to find how to heat the blanket, which was meant to be heated.  I turned the switch on and off several times—no luck.  I finally called the front desk. (It was really cold!)

“Ah, missus, you see that other switch about halfway down the cord; you gotta turn it on, too, then the heat will come on.”

I did. It did.

The bus was full for the tour which would take several days, ending up in Alice.  On the way, we stopped several nights in adequate motels, but it was our lunch times that were “interesting.”  (You always know when someone says something is “interesting” that it’s probably something you’d want to miss/skip.)

Three of us (women, of course!) were “selected” by our guide to make the lunches when we stopped. So the daily lunches fell into our gentle hands:  a district attorney from Louisiana; “Sis” Moyle with whom I still correspond; and me. Sis loves to travel and she’s been to the U.S. several times, but we haven’t been able to re-connect.

Each noon stop saw everyone else rambling around, while the three of us slapped sandwiches together, cut cake or pie for dessert, laid out bottles of soda, and dared anyone to complain.

We had a genial tour guide—a young fellow (fella) with a sense of humor.  One day he asked me what time did I want to be “knocked up.”  I couldn’t answer, until a New Zealand woman told me he meant “what time did I want him to knock on our motel room door.”   Another morning, he climbed aboard the bus and said to us sitting in the front seats.  “I got really pissed last night.”

I was instantly worried—always the ‘fixer-upper’—“Gosh, what happened to upset you?”  I wondered which one of us had made him mad.

“Nobody upset me.  I had too much to drink and I have a headache.”  So who says the British and the U.S. Americans speak the same language?  We don’t!  Well, not completely.  (There’s a book series about two guys operating a traveling library bus through the British Isles that’s great fun to read where language is concerned.)

With sandwiches and camel rides conquered, more or less, I decided to take a plane ride around the area.  The plane reminded me of a WWII spotter plane, and my never-great-airplane-courage almost failed me, but I’d decided to do it….so I did.  (I only climbed a few feet up Ayres Rock….but it’s a fascinating place to visit.)

For medical people and teachers in the U.S., there is considerable interest about two vital groups that meet the needs of people far from hospitals and schools.  The Flying Doctor Service and the Outback School System.  Computers and cell phones may have cut into the latter, but one can’t take out a bad appendix via computer. Although, knowing the Australian spirit, I’ll bet that’s been tried in a dire emergency.

Australia is a large country with an amazing history and unusual beauty. And the people are strong supporters of the U.S.  Memories of WWII may be fading a little, but it’s still there, and stories are told of crucial U.S. help during the war.  War memorials are “big” in more than one way in Australia; they make your heart swell with pride to see the courage and determination featured in their memorials, as well as their appreciation of the U.S.  (Take a tissue. Make it two.)

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