To get anywhere from Australia you need to take a long-haul flight. Over the last 10 years, I have done a lot of long-haul bum-numbing flights! I became very proficient in ensuring I didn’t wear the boots that made the scanners go ping, or take potentially offending items in my carry-on.
Before COVID, I had lots of places on my bucket list. Places like Iceland, England, Ireland and Wales, New Zealand and more of the United States. My last OS jaunt was to Scotland in 2019. I have written lots about my travels and you can browse through my back catalogue to check out those trips.
In the last two years, when the whole world has been adjusting to all sorts of new normals, my own world has shrunk. I’ve moved to a small rural city, changed jobs and really haven’t done much. I guess, like lots of folks, I just got used to amusing myself at home and keeping life simple and safe.
Flying is unsustainable and potentially unjust.
On top of the pandemic, the climate crisis has made me drastically reconsider my travel choices. I don’t want to stop travelling, but flying is right up there in terms of climate impact! I want to travel more sustainably and reduce how many times I step on a plane. The UK-based climate activist group “The Jump” recommends you take only one short-haul flight (less than 1500 km) every three years and one long-haul flight every eight years. That’s the equivalent of one trip to Melbourne every three years. Not real exciting!! Do I just need to broaden my perspectives? I need to empty out that bucket and fill it up with options closer to home.
On top of that, flying to exotic destinations is an immensely privileged thing to do. In a recent episode of the Sustainable-ish podcast Jen Gale mentioned that only 10% of the world’s population can afford to fly – anywhere. I’m not saying I’ll never fly again, because I will be required to as part of my day job, and I have already booked a flight to Sydney and another to Adelaide in September, but international flights will be easy to avoid!
Is road tripping the only option?
Here in Australia, road tripping is probably the best way to get around, and I love a good road trip. It’s usually a reasonably frugal way to get from place to place but with petrol at more than $2.00 a litre, it’s less attractive as well. At the present time, the rail price for the same distance is about a third cheaper. (Train = $68 one-way to Sydney vs $112 one-way for fuel)
Unlike you folks in Europe, we can’t take a quick weekend trip from say London to Paris via Eurostar because train destinations are limited. There are a few EPIC train journeys like the Indian Pacific from Sydney to Perth or the Ghan from Adelaide to Darwin. These trips are also an epic investment in time and money!
A kernel of an idea has been forming in my mind. How far could I get on “public” transport without flying? By public transport, I mean not relying on my car and only using buses and trains. There’d be no leaping from the car to get photos of interesting scenes every few kilometres! No stopping whenever I felt like it. This would be sloooow travel but travel that would fit with my travel values.
Leeton – NSW?
The first thought bubble that has jumped into my head is to go to Leeton in western NSW. I’ve chosen Leeton because it (apparently) has an outstanding collection of restored Art Deco buildings which would make good photography subjects. Like geotourism; architecture-based itineraries are also popular with travellers and I have developed a “thing” for Art Deco. There is enough in Leeton to keep me busy for a couple of days AND I can get there by train.
The rough itinerary would be:
- Train from Armidale to Sydney ( 7 hours)
- Overnight in Sydney
- Train from Sydney to Leeton (8 ish hours)
- Two days in Leeton (MAYBE hire a car??)
- Reverse that trip to come home.
Of course, I will need to factor in connections because although there is a train from Armidale to Sydney every day, there are only two direct trains from Sydney to Leeton (or return) each week. Lots more planning and thought required here.
Leeton even has an Art Deco Festival but I’ve missed that train because it’s on this weekend!