Hobart – Melbourne – Adelaide - Alice Springs
After weighing up my time vs carbon I had decided to fly via Melbourne rather than direct because direct flights don’t operate everyday and would have meant two extra nights in Adelaide. However this came back to bite me when arriving at Hobart airport I found that a delayed flight meant missing my Adelaide connection and instead of having 2.5 hours to get from the airport to bus stop I would now have <0.5 hrs.
I most other places I wouldn’t have even considered trying but Adelaide airport is a mere 15mins from the bus (in the centre of town), Clare was at the bus station trying to convince them to wait for me and Virgin put a priority label on my bag.
To save you all the anxiety, drama and bemusement (in the form of a very confused taxi driver) – I made it! I was 10mins late and I am ridiculously grateful to Clare and the bus driver!
We are now just 2 hours from Alice Springs and have survived our first night on the bus. I surprised myself by sleeping ok, not great or even well but ok. I did wake up quite cold and found bodies in the isle next to me buy got to sleep again relatively quickly so today I am feeling quite good!
We forgot about the bus!
We also realised that although two people driving a campervan from Brisbane to Darwin is more carbon efficient than flying the same route, the net carbon emissions are more or less the same as flying the whole way via Adelaide or Melbourne. Which just doesn’t sit well with the purpose of this trip: whatever the route – our carbon emissions must be < than flying. As there are such big differences between where we fly though, it makes sense to use the lowest level which is Hobart – Melbourne or Adelaide – Darwin and 1060kg for two people.
We also didn’t hear back from the hire car company about the possible Brisbane rental….
The bus from Adelaide to Darwin is just 80kg each!
It’s also a 48hour trip including a 5hour break in Alice Springs and a few short meal breaks. Essentially that’s 40 hours on a bus, no bed.... I don’t know about you, but I’ve never spent more than about 6 hours on a bus and that was enough. I really don’t think you are supposed to do it all in one go so maybe we'll have a stopover in Alice Springs.
We briefly entertained the idea of taking the bus to Alice and then a campervan to Darwin (we even booked a van!). It would make the whole trip much more bearable. But it would also add 320kg carbon to our trip. I’ve had to adjust my calculations slightly as we first talked about driving a car but campervans are heavier, less aerodynamic and therefore burn more fuel.
So, for the moment we have booked a bus from Adelaide to Alice Springs. Where between us we have discovered we know a larger than expected* number of fabulous people. Some of whom are also traveling to the conference by various means. For now we’ll leave off booking the last leg of the trip and making the final carbon calculations. We’re not worried that the bus will book out just yet.
To get to Adelaide we are taking different routes. Clare will be traveling to Canberra first and then to Adelaide. While I will fly Hobart to Adelaide. Unfortunately to get to the bus before it leaves I’ll be flying via Melbourne (the direct flight gets in 2hrs after the bus departs). This adds an extra 20kg to my carbon bill (total 180kg). Anyone know how that works, I thought the difference would be bigger? Maybe because the plane doesn't go as high as it's a short trip?
Things I have learnt so far
*the number is unexpected not the fact that they are fabulous 😉
Disaster! The hire company have decided that they don’t need that van moved anymore! :/ But they may have another one available from Brisbane! The email came through at 4pm on a Friday, we said yes please and thank you straight away but we didn’t get a response before 5pm so I guess we’ll have to wait till after the weekend to find out if it’s confirmed. We don’t even know if it’s two or four seats so we cannot reach out to any potential Brisbane travellers yet either.
We are purposely keeping the time short and getting from A to B as quick as possible. This is not a sightseeing trip, we are both time poor. It is a carbon saving mission. So we will share driving and work in the car – it’s end of financial year so everyone has loads of reports due right? But we will need breaks, we are biologists on our way to a bird conference and road trips are supposed to be fun right! So I am putting together a list of must see sights and a small list of target birds/birding locations (+ a longer list of hopefuls). #BirdNerdRoadie
P.S. My husband has since pointed out that a roadie, as well as being a crew member for a band is also Australian slang for a an alcoholic beverage that you take in the car to consume while driving. Needless to say we won’t be following this definition!
Many of the articles I have seen on reducing the number of flights we take, come out of Europe where shorter distances between major cities and the higher population density make alternatives like fast, cost effective trains a realistic alternative. However we are in Australia, distances are enormous and population density is approx. 3.1 people per square km (Aust Bureau of Stats 2016). So straight out the gate, at >$2500 per person one-way, taking the train is out (unless you are offering to pay of course).
We decided the best way might be a rental return. This is when a hire company has a car in one place that it needs to get somewhere else. They either pay someone to put it on a truck or they hire them out at $1 a day to budget travellers (that’s us!). The best thing is this vehicle needs to do this trip regardless so does it even count towards our carbon emissions if we just happen to be in it? Of course it does but it’s got to count for something right?
Bingo – we found a four-seater van from Adelaide to Darwin at around the right dates. So all we need are two more willing roadies! This route takes us right through the heart of Australia at the best time of year – the Alice Spring Beanie Festival! I’m already compiling a birding check list too!
Of course we left the actual planning of this trip till quite late and other more sensible ornithologists have already booked their transport to Darwin. So it looks to be just the two of us. No worries! There is also a two-seater van available 😊 #BirdNerdRoadie
So, can we really reduce our carbon footprint by driving from Hobart to Darwin?
Yes we can! (with 2 or more people in the car)
Currently aviation travel accounts for 2% of man-made carbon emissions (according to The International Air Transport Association, although it is likely higher than this https://www.iata.org/publications/tracker/june-2018/Pages/corsia.aspx ) but for those of us who fly, it also makes up the largest part of our personal annual carbon footprint.
Lets get down to it – how much carbon does it cost to travel from Hobart to Darwin?
Calculations made using www.carbonfootprint.com/calculator.aspx
N.B. I have used many generalisations and averages here.
Things to note:
I haven’t blogged in years, and I wasn’t very good at keeping up with it back then either. So I am going to try again. Clean slate. This time I have an idea, a purpose, a story and a partner in crime. Come along for the journey (literally if you want to!)
It started off as many things in my life seem to these days, with a simple Tweet. My friend Clare (@Ottercivet), inspired by Greta Thunberg was on a mission to reduce her carbon emissions. Can we get together a group of ornithologists and drive at least part way to the Australasian Ornithological Conference in Darwin?
Pffffffft I thought, who has time for that! And how much carbon is it really going to save anyway? After a few weeks of this nagging at me I realised that’s exactly the point!
If reducing carbon was so easy we’d all be carbon neutral. Plus, if everyone at the conference saved just 100kg of carbon on their transport, that’d be >30,000 kg less carbon going into the atmosphere!
Now you can easily do this in far less dramatic ways than driving 1000’s of km across Australia. Some advice I’ve read from various sources suggest flying direct instead of taking the often cheaper, multiple stop over flights - cruising in a plane uses hardly any fuel, it’s all in the take-off and landing. Even just packing light (or dare I say, losing weight) can make a big difference to aircraft fuel consumption. There are also some really great carbon offset funds you can pay into to ease your conscience.
I know what you are thinking – the plane is going anyway. There are arguments to counter this but I’m not going into them here, when it comes down to it, this is just you making excuses, like I was. Driving has much lower impact on climate change compared to flying. As you get more people in the vehicle, you lower the per person emissions exponentially.
You could say that the best way to reduce carbon emissions would be not to attend the conference at all. You would be making a good point but you would also be missing our point.
This is not an anti-airline, anti-conference or anti-travel campaign, we are not advocating a boycott of any sort. We both have family overseas, we both have cars, we both fly regularly.
We simply want to be more carbon aware. To think about how our choices contribute to global climate change. Because really, unless you walk, any type of transport is going to produce carbon.
Follow along with our adventures on twitter #BirdNerdRoadie