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Journey across the desert

Updated: Aug 12, 2021

Usually I’m a fan of overland transport. It’s easier, cheaper, more scenic and way more environmentally friendly.

Often, you can just show up to the bus station, buy a ticket, hop on and you’re off. Flights involve checking in, baggage restrictions, waiting around, and, usually, at 30000 feet, a distinct lack of view. Plus, when you finally arrive, you find you’re not in the actual city, you’re still a costly taxi ride away from anywhere of interest.

As it turns out, however, the flight cost from Cairns to Brisbane was £100 less than the train and about 21 hours shorter.

I decided to fly this leg of the journey.

I didn’t miss out on the scenery either.

Captain James Stirling, upon arriving in Australia in 1827, declared it paradise. I wonder what he would have thought if he could have spied it from above. Taking off and twisting over Cairns provided beautiful views of the harbour, esplanade and lagoon.

Soon, we were heading over jungle covered mountains and islands ringed with white sand. The water was so turquoise it looked luke a photo straight out of a travel brochure. Flecked with white and periodically broken up by the lighter coloured shallower reefs. As the plane rose higher, the shadows of the clouds darkened the waves.

Within a few minutes, we were over the desert. The vast bush continued to the blurry horizon. There were no clouds, just a flattish dry brown expanse of land broken occasionally by a road or a winding line of trees that suggested a river. As we continued, so did the bush. At points the sparkle of a car caught my eye. Large sections were tree covered or hilly. A couple of areas near rivers had the odd green field. Mostly it was divided in straightish lines along the edge of farms. In the distance smoke seemed to suggest bush fires.

This bizarre landscape

As suddenly as it had begun, we began to descend into Brizzy. We drifted into greenery and mountains, motorways and car parks.

Witnessing this bizarre and vast landscape was fantastic and definitely helped quieten my environmental guilt.

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