by A Local Reader.
A “bucket list” …. we all have one, don’t we?
I am grateful to have ticked off one of my bucket list items, an epic train journey on the Indian Pacific, streaking across Australia from Sydney to Perth.
Boarding this long, silver train at the historic Central Railway Station in Sydney, the journey begins on Platform No 1.
The train departs at 3pm and we have a three-day journey ahead of us.
Soon after leaving the city and suburbs, life on the train is explained by enthusiastic young staff members, who attend to the passengers’ every needs during the journey.
Sydney’s western suburbs quickly give way to the Blue Mountains and craggy rise of the Great Dividing Range, separating our cities from the fertile plains of the NSW farmlands.
The first off-train-experience is at Broken Hill. Buses take passengers to see the sights and surrounds of this famous mining town.
A local theatre-group enacts a historical Miner’s Union Meeting, giving the audience opportunity to join-in, an informative and fun way to share the history of Broken Hill.
On returning to the train after the excursion, the individual comfortable cabins have been transformed into beds, either two singles or a double, or bunk beds, depending on the passenger’s cabin class choices. Private bathroom facilities (in some classes) are also available.
The dining car is another excellent experience. Meals are superb, the choice of beverages satisfies every taste. Mixing with other passengers during mealtimes is a highlight; everybody has a story and three days gives ample time for passengers to share interests and become ‘new-best-friends’. Adelaide is the second off-train-experience. We arrive in the late afternoon; here two options are available to passengers: a visit to the wineries further south of Adelaide, or a tour of the ‘city sights after dark.’
Another stop is the town of Cook, population 4. Typically Cook is hot and dry, and a million flies await the arrival of passengers! Cook is a support station for the trains, providing water and ‘track-maintenance’ equipment.
The rail line is used by goods trains as well as the Indian Pacific. Transporting all manner of ‘goods’ is a priority on this line, supporting farm life and towns in the outback. It’s not unusual for passenger trains to stop in a siding for short periods
Mid-morning the next day the train is on The Nullarbor Plain, the longest straight stretch of rail line in the world.
The flat, vast, seemingly endless landscape is full of colours, stubble-like grasses, red earth, rough ground, and pale patches of dried salt. Little peeps of red, pinks and yellow wildflowers can be seen as the tough plants struggle to survive.
Time passed all too quickly with the ever-changing landscape just outside the windows.
The sunrises and sunsets are spectacular. Twilight comes quickly, and soon the evening activities onboard are in full swing.
The fourth off-train experience was to be an evening ‘dining under the stars’ but due to a medical emergency on board the train which required the arrival of The Flying Doctor and a passenger/ patient being transported back to Kalgoorlie Hospital, the evening activities were naturally cancelled… a further appreciation of ‘life-in-the-outback.’
I had a wonderful time on the Indian Pacific. This really is one of the great train journeys of the world.
Keep working on ‘the bucket list’ …. so much out there to see and do and still to be enjoyed!