With a few trips under my belt I can say pretty strongly that I hate travelling with Greyhound. The first 6 hour trip from Perth to Geraldton felt long and maybe a bit uncomfortable – but then I wasn’t trying to sleep so I wasn’t too worried about getting bedded down in my seat – but it was a walk in the park compared to travelling through the night and trying every combination of sleeping across two seats: facing forwards or backwards and having your head or your feet sticking out into the aisle.
The trip from Exmouth to Broome was a good example of almost everything that can be annoying in a Greyhound journey happening, apart from the bus starting or finishing the trip in the early hours of the morning. First, the bus was late and the driver definitely wasn’t in too much of a hurry to get everyone on, which surely would be a good idea since we’d be travelling to the Minilya turn-off in complete darkness so the slower we could go to avoid roos the better. Then there was a guy who, when he first swaggered off the bus, I thought was some random drunk but proclaimed himself to be the ‘Greyhound Area Supervisor’. Once the journey started – this was at about 9.30pm so everyone was just wanting to get some sleep on the relatively empty bus as the journey ahead was set to last 21 hours – he made a point of jibbering on about how the bus was old but comfy because it was the only one with air suspension. After a while of giving him as little in the way of responses as I could without blatently ignoring him he eventually sat down and left us alone but since a daughter of the driver, and her friend, were freeloading a ride, we didn’t get any peace for a few more hours due to them singing and getting the radio turned up, oh and screaming when we hit a kangaroo.
At the Minilya roadhouse, we would normally swap on to the main route bus that runs from Perth to Broome but tonight the old bus that runs the Exmouth-Minilya route was going to carry on to Broome and Darwin as it had a crack that ran the entire height of the windscreen due to hitting what were told was a massive kangaroo a few nights before. Luckily, the area supervisor and the cohort of annoying girls were not accompanying us so things were looking up. As soon as the new driver tried to pull off, though, we knew were possibly going to be in for a slightly longer trip as, after grinding the gears for about a minute and finally getting the bus to move, we rolled along the highway for, what seemed like, over a minute as the driver tried in vain to find 2nd gear. Eventually, after giving up on ever finding the 3rd or 4th gears, the driver had us going at a more suitable pace, but for the rest of the trip I wondered how the last driver could effortlessly control the bus while this one drove with the finess of a learner who’d been navigating the haudigan roundabout for the first time.
The night was cold and, even after being asked a few times, the driver never bothered to turn down the flow of cold air but as soon as the sun rose we were cooking and told that the air conditioning didn’t work. This was understandable, as the bus seemed to have taken quite a beating in recent times and wasn’t exactly new anyway, so we made do with having the sunroofs open, sucking in a constant draught of hot air which was a bit better than sitting in a sauna on wheels with no air flow. It was only at midday, when we switched drivers, that we found out that the air-con ‘didn’t work’ because someone had switched on the heating instead. Better late than never, I suppose, as it did save us having to endure the high-noon sun with no air-con.
After that, things went pretty smoothly, apart from spending most of the day feeling really stupid cause I couldn’t find my phone – after checking all the seats I was sure I’d lost it when I nipped out at Coral Bay the night before but later on a kid found it. The new driver, already having earned significant browny points for knowing how to drive a bus and use air-con, was nice enough to drive us round to the Kimberley Klub hostel after the bus stopped in Broome town centre.