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The Ghan - Suffering From Elation
A Survivor's Tale
The Ghan
After having dinner with Vix the other night I was taken aback when she thanked me for listening to her. Thinking about it afterwards, it reminded me how important it is to have someone around who'll listen to you when you're feeling down, and that thought led me to recall how much my mum was there for me when I went through a black time last year.

Mum let me stay and put up with me when I was at my most morose. When I phoned her, upset, she'd take the time to listen to me, day or night. I'm 26 years old, well capable of looking after myself, so the fact that she looked out for me so much is something I'll always be grateful for. After leaving Vix at the bus stop and settling myself in at the local Dark And Creepy Park to wait for Joe, I sent mum a quick SMS, thanking her for being there for me.

Today Brigitte Walker turns 51. In about a month, she'll be a grandmother for the first time. I'm in no position to fill her life with adorable babies, so in the spirit of the one-upmanship my brother and I playfully engage in every birthday and Christmas with mum, I thought for her birthday this year, I'd offer her something completely different. Stay with me, I'm getting to the point... slowly...

Last weekend Joe's mum alerted me to a fare sale for The Ghan (http://www.gsr.com.au/our-trains/the-ghan/the-journey.php), which is a legendary train route that runs from Adelaide in South Australia, up through Alice Springs (gateway to Uluru / Ayers Rock), then up still more through Katherine (gateway to the world-famous national park at Katherine Gorge), terminating in Darwin in the Northern Territory. It's got comfy seats that recline into beds, and food, toilets and showers on board. It's a bit like a luxury hotel on wheels and it cuts across the continent from south to north, covering a variety of stunning landscapes.

The fares are going ridiculously cheap at the moment - $79 Adelaide to Alice Springs, and another $79 Alice to Darwin with a day-stop at Katherine. The catch is that tickets must be purchased by the end of July, and the journey must be taken by late October.

Around the same time, I got my usual airfare sale alert email from Virgin Blue. $99 Brisbane-Adelaide, $129 Darwin-Brisbane.

I did some quick calculations, researched backpacker websites for tour group options and ratings at Uluru (around $320 for a highly-recommended three-day tour with food and accomodation) and crunched the numbers. The journey will take a week, leaving Adelaide on Sunday, stopping at Uluru for three days, and arriving in Darwin the next Saturday. The cost of fares and tours will be $710 each. The only cost not included there is food, and I'd intend to cheap out a little by taking a supply of muesli bars and portable foods, so that only dinners need be purchased (and only those on the non-tour days).

Essentially, it'll be an epic overland journey through the heart of Australia, and whilst I briefly considered going with a friend, I realised that most of them won't be able to pull the funds together in time, let alone get a week off. Joe would like to go but he wants to focus on getting a fulltime job, and he can't do that if he's depending on being able to nick off for a week in October. I'm still going to take him to the volcanoes, anyway. In the meantime there's a massive opportunity here for me to do something good for mum in return for what she's done for me - and whittle away some of that pesky airline credit before the December deadline in the process.

Soooo, I'm going to cover her plane tickets and handle all the bookings and organisation for the trip. I'd love to cover the whole cost for her but I can't - she understands, though, the plane tickets are already worth a lot more than I'd usually be able to give her for her birthday and they reduce the cost of the trip down to something like $450, which is a very reasonable price to pay for a week traversing the Aussie wilderness in style. I've already run it by her and alerted her that there'll be some cost for her. She says it's fine, as Geoff is moving back in with her as a boarder and covering a good portion of her mortgage, leaving her with extra moneys. We're going to hash over the details tonight.

I haven't actually told her what the plan is yet, either... all she knows is that I want her to take a week off in October, and that I have an adventure planned. OK, so you're probably thinking it's pretty daggy to do something like this with a parent, but my mum deserves awesome adventure too - when she was my age she didn't get to travel, she was too busy raising me! Soon she'll get to ride on this:

...and spend three days touring and seeing this:

...and having a half-day whistle-stop tour of this:

Not to mention bountiful quality time with her daughter. :D

In other news, I've caught Joe's cold/flu thing but judging by his progress through it, it's just going to be a sore throat and tiredness for a couple of days. I'll kick its arse.

Also, the bigass TV is currently in for repair. Brace yourselves for marathons including, but not limited to: Californication, Invader Zim, Doctor Who, the Christian-Bale-a-thon, and many more. I'm also hoping to find a couple of strapping young men to help Joe and I carry the entertainment unit from the garage into the living room. Volunteers will be rewarded with pizza if it's evening, pancakes if it's morning! I'm looking at you, Hadders. ;)
6 have fought ~ fight the power!
sigmoidal_suseq From: sigmoidal_suseq Date: July 23rd, 2008 05:30 am (UTC) (Link)
Awww sounds fantastic.

I definitely couldn't spend that much time with my mum in close quarters.
tania From: tania Date: July 23rd, 2008 05:34 am (UTC) (Link)
I love spending time with your mum in close quarters. HIGH FIVE!! OK, mum joke out of the way...

If you were here I'd totes be taking you. It'd be utter hilarity, the two of us stromping around the outback on our stumpy little legs in our daggy shorts. Hee.
master_haakon From: master_haakon Date: July 23rd, 2008 06:40 am (UTC) (Link)
Sounds like a blast. If it wasn't for the kiddlets, I'd be all over that voyage o'fun.
(Deleted comment)
tania From: tania Date: July 23rd, 2008 11:15 pm (UTC) (Link)
Sure! We'll be in Darwin for a fairly short time though, our plane gets in at 6.30pm on Friday the 17th of October, and the plan was to go out on the piss to fill in the time before our departing flight - 1am that same night (technically Saturday morning). I hear Darwin's got a good bar scene!
thelauderdale From: thelauderdale Date: July 23rd, 2008 11:35 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh lucky Mom! Lucky lucky! And very clever Ailurophile. Good on you both if this works out, it sounds great!
From: pariahsdream Date: July 23rd, 2008 08:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
I don't find it 'daggy' at all. I'm rather close to my mother and I would love to be able to do as much for her, especially considering how she's supported me through the years.
6 have fought ~ fight the power!