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Into the Known

Into the Known

Transport yourself into the ‘known’…

A Bus Hire Extended Tour from Sydney

What’d you get up to on your holidays? Coach charter from Sydney to Uluru? White water rafting up the Zambezi? Eating indigenous cuisine in the Gulf of Fonseca? Trekking the Lost Tibetan Kingdom of Mustang? Tombstoning off a Patagonian cliff? A holiday ain’t a holiday unless you’ve gone far away, ventured, adventured, taken yourself on the most paradoxically well-worn path of them all: ‘out of your comfort zone’. For many people, the ‘h’ word stands for ‘Homer’s Odyssey’.

Me? The ‘h’ word means: ‘home away from home’. That’s right. I belong to the least groovy sub set in the world: the people who go to the same place every year for their holiday. This, of course, conjures up terrible images of beetroot-skinned British tourists in flip-flops complaining that you can’t get a decent cuppa tea in the Costa Del Sol, etc etc. I once met some people on one of my Sydney bus tours who trekked to a caravan park every summer from their home – 20 minutes away.

Now I’m not going to point the finger. Caravan parks all over Australia are full of fish-in-a-barrel targets like this, because that’s what caravan parks are set up for – so everyone there can get to know each other because they’ve all been coming to the same spot in the same caravan park for the last 25 years. Add a soupcon of Edward De Bono to yer humble Aussie caravan park, and you can transport the same scene to the nightclub area of Bali: same people every year, only it feels like you’re being exotic. (no doubt some readers will tut tut at my “so last week” example. Everybody knows now it’s Vietnam, or South America, where you can go to hang out with people from your own suburb.)

So, I’m putting my hand up. Guilty as charged. I am a conservative, stick-in-the-mud, unimaginative, unadventurous coward who goes to the same place by bus hire in Sydney every year for my holiday. In the words of the great Victorian philosopher Dave Hughes: “what’s with that??!!”

Well, the answer lies at a fundamentally early stage of the process. For some people, travel where adventure starts. Not me. I travel by bus to stop. I’m not saying my life is so goddamn exciting that every day is an adventure, but – it’s good enough for me. I keep myself rather busy. I have a job, and a family, and then, on top of that, I have a full-time career, squashed into part-time hours, as a so-called “creative type”. From the minute I wake up to the minute I doze off, I’m switched on, the brain is going. It’s not a chore, I wouldn’t do it if it was. But when it comes to the once-a-year slab of annual leave owed to me by society because I pretend to be someone I’m not for 7.6 hours a day, 5 days a week, 48 weeks a year – well, I take this opportunity to give my brain a rest and hire a bus from Sydney Coach Hire to take my family to a secret location in Sydney.

Arguably, the logical conclusion would see me just staying at home and sitting in my living room chair like a computer that’s been switched off. But even for me, that would be a tiny bit unadventurous. So me and the people I love, the people who I don’t have to pretend in front of, the people who I don’t have to dress up for, or entertain with Wildean quotes, or even talk to while I’m eating (the main problem I see with restaurants), we charter a bus and go – quite a reasonable distance, as a matter of fact – to a beautiful beach town which isn’t (yet) full of disaffected teenagers (eg: Surfers Paradise) and reiki practitioners (eg: Byron), where we rent a comfortable house, the same house every year, and we all get to shut down together and take a pleasant and casual minibus charter to the restaurants and local attractions.

I’m not going to tell you where this is, because the place is already starting to show creaky signs of becoming New Surfers Paradise (and this is where I differ from the caravan-park-in-Bali set: I actually don’t want to meet anyone I know when I go on holiday. In fact, I don’t want to meet anyone when I go on holiday.) But maybe if you’re like me, you might recognise similar signposts of the home-away-from-home shut-down holiday experience.

I love it when I get to my shut-down-town because the driver knows his way around. No map and therefore, no brainwork required. But I love it even before I get there. In the words of half the people you might meet in Byron, it isn’t the destination, so much, as the journey, man. Every landmark along the way is an increasingly heightened psychological signifier: when we emerge from the matrix of city freeways; the pie shop at our halfway stop; the town which spells its name on a hill; the ruins of the early settlement primary school along the nearly-there stretch; and finally, climactically, the little wooden sign advertising the local footy team on the outskirts of our paradise. With each one, some unseen force removes one weighted disc from the dumbbell of my life.

And once there, it’s just one big reunion – not just with its touristy bits like the eye-blastingly turquoise expanse of bay, or the heritage-list splendour of the old pub, or the desolate beauty and power of the ocean cliffs – but with the little things, the good things, the bad things, the things you’d only notice once you’d been there. Like grumpy Mr. Newsagent man. Like the pongy lake at the edge of town. Like the local TV station with its hilarious advertising jingles and sports reports on local under-17s tennis matches. I watch with interest at the career progress of the girl from the newsagent, who is now in the ladies fashion shop. I marvel at how the urbane young second-hand bookshop proprietor can earn enough to look so urbane. I find perverse satisfaction in the bakery’s un-European fare, the lack of a single decent CD rack anywhere, the good old fashioned not-first-name-basis customer service.

I still travel with the same reliable and friendly Sydney bus company that I have used over and over and within my soul, I enter a preternatural state of being. I care about what’s on TV. And. One year I experienced a journey through the Napoleonic Wars and the loves of the Russian aristocracy. It was called War and Peace. Try wading through that bit of ‘brick-lit’ on an ‘exciting’ holiday. Finally, and the timing has to be right, I reach the desired mindset: slight boredom. This means I have ‘de-fragged’ myself to the point where I can consider going back to life without a terrible sense of nihilism. If you have never reached this point, you have never truly understood how fine the weather is in your ‘comfort zone’. A year in the real world is a tough assignment. You need all the mental reserves you can muster.

The ticket aisle marked: ‘out of your comfort zone’ is full of pushy tourists, with way too much baggage. Maybe it’s time to do something truly adventurous – choose the unadventurous. Transport yourself into the ‘known’… You’ll like it out there so much, there’s no going back.