In Praise of Long Train Rides.

Crossing the Australian continent from Sydney to Perth on the Indian Pacific meets all of my requirements for maximum enjoyment of a long-distance train ride. It must also include at least two nights aboard. That gives me enough time to feel at home in my roomette or bedroom (with en suite bathroom), to explore the train and to meet some of my fellow passengers relaxing in the lounge car or over meals in the dining car.

Ninety minutes before departure from the Sydney’s Central station. Supplies have been loaded, the crew is preparing for departure and the Indian-Pacific’ windows are washed.
The train gets its name from the oceans at either end of its 2700-mile trans-continental route: the Indian Ocean to the East, the Pacific Ocean to the West.
Less than 90 minutes under way and the lounge car has been open for business. Young attendant: “Do you wish to run a tab, sir?” Response from a patron: “Do kangaroos jump?”
Second day out of Sydney: a herd of camels. The beasts, long since gone wild, were originally brought here to carry supplies to construction crews building the trans-continental railroad.
Stopped for refueling in the town of Cook (population 4), the train is about to travel on the longest perfectly straight stretch of railroad track in the world: it’s not quite 300 miles long.
After crossing miles and miles of desolate Outback, Perth provides a welcome contrast with  stately trees and lush vegetation of magnificent Kings Park and Botanic Garden, here we’re overlooking the Swan River with the Indian Ocean beyond.