Back in 1974 when I was 22, I decided I should see more of my own country before exploring further overseas. I’d already undertaken a trip to England, Scotland and France when I was 19, and I’d travelled a fair bit of Victoria, seen a little of NSW and briefly visited Brisbane in Queensland. I’d also already taken a short cruise in the Pacific. One of those ‘party boats’ out of Sydney!

As I was a solo traveller, I decided to embark on a long bus tour from Melbourne in Victoria, through outback New South Wales and Queensland, onto Darwin in the Northern Territory, and down through the centre of Australia via Alice Springs to Adelaide.

Journalists in Australia enjoyed six weeks holiday a year because of their shift work. Women Journalists also enjoyed equal pay with men, so I was able to save well for my annual breaks and take long trips. Travel and my job as a young Journalist were my passions. Luckily I never got into cigarettes or drugs to burn up my money!

This photo was taken at Middleton in Queensland. That’s my tour bus in the pic! Note the bull bar on the front to help protect the bus if it clashed with kangaroos, roaming cattle etc en route. There’s also a mesh across part of the front window screen to help protect from stones, as most of the roads we were travelling were unsealed then.

Memories of that trip are dim now, but we stopped at Middleton when we cut across from Longreach through to Boulia on the Kennedy Development road, and then went onto the mining town of Mount Isa before moving into the Northern Territory.

It was a camping trip, so we didn’t stay at this hotel. Most likely it was our lunch and toilet stop.

There’s nothing much in Middleton, other than this old pub which is now 144 years old. It was built as a changing station for the Cobb and Co stagecoach postal service in the 1880’s, and is still a stop for outback travellers today.

In my photo, part of the old verandahs have been covered in. But photos of the pub on the internet today show the cladding has been removed and the verandahs restored. Yes, the pub is still going strong!

My tour bus – next destination Darwin!
Taken from the back of my tour bus – yes – this is a highway!

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