Spending the whole day away from a power outlet is challenging, but not impossible. Also inside as the No Luggage challenge continues from Newcastle to Melbourne to Bendigo: how NSW is still losing in the rail fare stakes.I knew when I planned it that today would pose the biggest challenge to me in power terms. I boarded an airport bus at 4:30am. I wasn’t going to get to my hotel until 4:00pm. In between, I expected to be using the BlackBerry near-continuously, save for take-off and landing. I suspected that might be tricky, and that’s why I was very grateful when I spotted this at the Newcastle airport departure lounge:
Sure, I’d only been using the device for 45 minutes at that point, but having the chance to recharge before boarding meant I was fully juiced up when I got on the plane.
Surprisingly for such a small and relatively densely-populated state, Victoria doesn’t have particularly good mobile coverage in my experience. To further hedge my bets, I switched off my mobile signal for most of the two-hour train journey from Southern Cross to Bendigo, which is always a good way to extend battery life. I had plenty of writing to do, and for the most part I can do that net-free. I got to Bendigo without having lost all power, but I had gone into the red “warning zone”.
Fortunately, Bendigo station has quite a few accessible power outlets in the waiting room, so when I returned there for the journey home, I was able to recharge and get enough power for the journey home. In truth, I didn’t work quite as hard on the way back, but I had been up since before 4am.
If I had a lot of days like this scheduled, I’d have packed a spare battery (three cheers for phones with that option, BTW, and it wouldn’t have been a major space issue). However, as I’m now looking largely at plane travel, I’ll have lots of chances to recharge in Qantas lounges each day.
The fare challenge
I’ve long contended that public transport fares in NSW are poor value compared to other states, since single-journey tickets only ever cover a single trip on a train or bus or boat, rather than letting you use multiple modes of transport in a 2-hour or all-day window. Today’s travel confirmed that.
When I first researched this trip, I actually thought NSW was going to come out on top for once. The trip from central Sydney to Newcastle, a distance of 168 kilometres, cost $7.80 one way. The trip from Melbourne to Bendigo is almost identical in distance (164km), but costs $16.40 one way.
What I didn’t realise until I read my ticket was that my Victorian ticket also included any needed travel within both Melbourne and Bendigo. On a day return, I could catch as many local buses as I liked at either end, plus any other tram or train in Melbourne. If I cared to use those options (I did hop a tram to get to my hotel), I could get much more value from the fare. $7.80 to get to Newcastle is a good price, don’t get me wrong, but I wish the NSW fare structure actively encouraged use rather than pursuing a pay-for-every-leg mentality.
Wednesday sees me venture north to Brisbane — a plan that very nearly went awry because of a certain State of Origin game. I’ll tell you tomorrow how that became a blessing in disguise.
For the No Luggage experiment, Angus Kidman is doing his normal job while travelling Australia for a week with not much more than a BlackBerry. So far, his thumb is holding up nicely.