Monday, June 26, 2006

Crossing Australia By Train

Tracie and I bought a six month rail pass to ride the train all over the country. It worked out to be a savings for us, but that's mainly because we used it to go from Perth to Adelaide twice, to Alice Springs and then to Sydney.

If you aren't planning on riding the train pretty much every where it goes, it is cheaper to just buy regular tickets. But unless you really like trains, just fly. It is better than the train.

The train takes a very long time and for a major portion of that time, it is flatter than a pancake. I'm from the prairies and I know flat. The several thousand miles between Perth and Adelaide is flat.

There isn't much to do on the train, so you have to entertain yourselves. We played a lot of cards and visited with people we met on the Train. I really recommend going to the lounge car asap because it is much more comfortable than the regular seats.

We met a lot of fellow travellers on the train. People from northern Europe biking around the country. A French girl backpacking and lots of other interesting people.

I don't know why but the first leg of the trip to Kalgoorlie seems to take a disproportionately long time. There is a stop in Kalgoorlie for a longer than necessary amount of time and then you get back on and the train goes to the edge of town and sits for several hours. I guess it just has a lot to do with train scheduling. It seems as if you cover a lot more miles toward the end of the trip rather than the start.

Most maps of Australia show eight or nine dots along the track between the start and finish. Only one of those dots actually represents a town. Another represents a fuelling station. The rest represent structures along the track. Those structures are signposts with names that match the dots on the map. To be fair there are gravel tracks that cross the train tracks every so often, but take it from me there is no reason to be out there.

On our second trip across, the train stopped to drop off supplies for a couple of families. Their kids looked like they enjoyed seeing all the people on the train. I get the feeling that going to get supplies from the train is a pretty major outing for those kids.

You can tell when you are getting closer to Adelaide because there starts to be a little grass. Then the grass turns a little greener, then there are bushes then trees and so on until you pull into town.

Most Australians say there there is nothing to do in Adelaide. Often people not from Australia will tell you that too. I was only there for a couple of days, but I thought that it was a very beautiful town. There are lots of old buildings and lots of churches.

We went to the museum while we were there. Actually I think we sort of snuck into it by accident. We went into a part that was free and as we were looking around we found a corridor that joined to another part of the museum and so we just went over. When we were done looking at the stuff, we left through the most obvious exit and there were people at a desk charging admission. I guess we got lucky and didn't have to pay.

After a short while we realized that we were just sort of killing time in Adelaide so we moved on to Melbourne, although I would have liked to see a little more of Adelaide we didn't have the time, money or motivation.

-Gary Milner

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