Bisecting Australia by Train—Revisited

I find that I think about my trip to Australia quite often. It’s a fascinating country, the people are genuinely friendly and there are trains—two very special ones. The Indian Pacific runs across the continent east to west, from Sydney to Perth; and the Ghan runs north to south, from Darwin to Adelaide. Would I go back and do them both again? In a heartbeat! I thought I’d take the next few posts to run some photos I took of and from both of those wonderful trains. I’ve tried to pick photos that I haven’t run before.

Every so often you get lucky. This is on e of those photos. It was taken at a restaurant in the Hunter Valley the day before our train departed from Sydney. I was having lunch while on a tour of the Hunter Valley, the Australian wine country, when this little girl appeared. She hesitated at this puddle in the walkway but, a second or two later, she stepped right into the puddle and squealed in delight.

Clean windows. Pretty basic, right? This was going on in the Sydney station two hours before our departure.

Prepared on board in this kitchen, the food was really very, very good. As with most dining cars I’ve seen, the kitchen seemed quite small considering the number of meals served to several dozen sleeping car passengers. Four or five car at the front of the train were for coach passengers who did not have access to this dining car.

Meanwhile, passing by outside, is the seemingly endless Outback. One afternoon over several beers, I asked a fellow passenger, an Aussie from Perth, what actually constitutes the Outback here. “Well, mate,” he said, “I’d say the Outback is everything west of the east coast and everything east of the west coast.” Everyone within earshot howled with laughter.  At the time, we were passing an area that had been hit by a flash flood two days earlier.

Pulling us across those many miles of mostly hostile terrain was a mammoth locomotive which was checked and serviced periodically during our journey. Here, in the town of Cook (population: 4), our locomotive is fueled and serviced before starting across the world’s longest perfectly straight stretch of railroad track in the world: straight- as-a-string for 298 miles.

This very pleasant young man oversaw the lounge car and made things easy by running a tab for sleeping car passengers throughout the journey. The train was air conditioned, of course, but just looking at the hot and dry Outback on the other side of the large picture windows made the body crave a cold beer. It was in this rail car that I was introduced to Foster’s Lager.

Coming next time: Photos of the largest open-pit gold mine in the world and the Indian Pacific completes its trans-continental journey, reaching the shores of the Indian Ocean at Perth, a city of 2.13 million.