Throwing caution to the wind I decided to travel to Mildura on the overnight bus.
So I booked my ticket at Ballan and asked for seat 41 on the bus.
Seat 41 has 2 meters of leg room in front of it to allow for the very infrequent wheelchairs that use this space.
I caught the 22:12 from Ballan and arrived at Platform 2 at Ballarat and walked over the stairs and as I was arriving at the coach bay the Mildura bus was arriving.
The bus looked different to the run-of-the-mill Swan Hill bus lines buses that ply the Mildura-Swan Hill route and also operate the overnight bus which replaced the Vinelander rail service around 27 years ago.
The inevitable smokers alighted from the bus as soon as it arrived and soon after the driver approached me and asked if I was booked on the bus.
I had a chat to him about this new bus and he told me some of the older buses still in daily operation have covered over 1,5000,000 Km. This is amazing but true because any bus plying the route will probably cover over 1,000 km a day.
I headed to my seat and settled in. Soon I took out my blow up...
foot stool (poof or pouffet) if you are old like me and with my neck pillow I settled in for the journey.
The stations are announced automatically by the on-board programme and we are now according to the electronic voice 'valuable customers'. Creswick, Clunes, Talbot x 2 stops, Maryborough x 2 stops (one on), Avoca, St Arnaud then Donald where we stopped for an hours refresh.
Whilst there the southbound 'Southern Cross' bound bus arrived and it was like the old days when the north and south bound Vinelander's used to cross for a crew change at Donald.
We headed north and I dozed off and though the Sunraysia Highway is at its worst along this stretch with its undulations I missed Watchem, Birchip, Woomelang, Speed and a few others till I woke at Ouyen and the bus was stationary and the pax were outside stretching legs and smoking.
I stayed on board and the bus continued through Hattah, Red Cliffs, Irymple and Mildura 5 late at 06:55.
I reckon I had 3 hours sleep in total and at a stretch I'd probably repeat the experience, provided I could get the same seat.
8 alighted at Mildura so we lost a few from the original 11 at Ballarat.
This is by far the least utilised V/Line service to/from Mildura and tomorrow I'm booked on the 13:10 bus to Swan Hill thence to Castlemaine and already there are 11 bookings on that service.
The forecast 39c tomorrow will test the AC of the old bus if it's still operating.