I see no trees - across the Nullabor to Sydney (31/12/2010-05/01/2011)


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Oceania
January 11th 2011
Published: January 25th 2011
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Waiting and hoping


We left the YHA amid general mirth and yells of "See you tomorrow then", cycled to the station and checked in to the smallest cabin ever, (there's got to be a photo of it on here somewhere) it was pure comedy gold watching Vernon get onto the top bunk. Still it was 22:00 on New Year's Eve so we made ourselves at home in the lounge area with a bottle of pink fizz, two paper cups and the interwebs before attempting to get a night's sleep in bunks measuring 2ft by 6ft (0.6mx1.8m). We were woken at 07:15 by the train manager announcing that the breakfast bar was open and that we would be leaving at 10:00 sharp. We put a quick call through to the YHA, not to gloat (we'll leave that until we clear the crash site!) but to get a message to Mr Lee, who was also booked on the train but had been told that it would leave at midday, so he returned to the hostel for a good night's sleep and planned to be back at the station by 11:00.

Moving very slowly


At 10:15 with all the passengers finally herded onto the train we pulled slowly away from the platform and started to move eastwards at a very regal speed, we passed the spoil heap walls of the Super Pit for what seemed like an eternity before rolling into bush country, which would be our panorama for the rest of the day. Later that afternoon we were passed by a westbound freight train pulling a number of badly dented containers and some empty wagons. In the evening we finally reached the crash site, initially the only evidence was a missing rail on the track next to ours, then we passed a number of derailed wagons with their containers scattered around them and car transporters with bashed cargo. The crash happened when the middle third of a sixty wagon freight train derailed due to heat-warped tracks, the freighter with damaged cargo that we saw earlier was the front of the derailed train, presumably there was a similar train heading back east with the rear section while the middle bit was scattered liberally around us. Apparently the cheapest and most eco-friendly clean-up solution will be to bury the mangled remains in a very large hole near the site, there are no roads near here and the cost in both dollars and carbon of getting everything moved to somewhere it could be broken up and recycled would be mahoosive. Then again "apparently" we were going to be stuck in Western Aus for at least two weeks after the derailment, so who knows what will actually happen to all the debris.
Excitement over we settled down to an evening of watching the outside roll past, we reached the Nullabor as dusk fell and played spot the tree until it was too dark to see out of the windows.
The next morning we were still on the Nullabor and it was still a large, empty, treeless space with rabbits everywhere. We stopped to stretch our legs at Port Augusta while the train staff unloaded yesterday's rubbish and welcomed a few more passengers aboard, then it was off again towards Adelaide, arriving at 15:30 and finally getting into our hotel room at 17:00, after a brief guided tour of the city. The posh travellers (Gold and Platinum) were at the Adelaide Mercure, those of us in the cheap seats (Red Cabin and Red Sleeper Seats) got shuffled off to Rydges which is a slightly upmarket hotel chain and a damn sight posher than the cabin we'd been in for the previous two nights. The Jaffanaut stayed safely tucked up in the luggage store at the station and the porter was very grateful when we demonstrated how to turn off the parking brake.

Adelaide


I always got an image of an Edwardian maiden aunt (Hinge or Bracket stylee) in my head whenever Adelaide got mentioned so I was quite prepared to be metaphorically peered at over horn-rimmed spectacles and tutted at by a rather old fashioned city. First impressions did nothing to change this view as we were driven through the CBD which still had the majority of it's original buildings standing rather than the modern glass and steel structures which seem to predominate in Perth and Sydney, the local news regaled us with a battle between retailers and councillors over the closure of shops at New Year and the coach driver's commentary about Adelaideans (Adelaiders?) of note had nobody from the last 70 years in it and no mention of Don Bradman! I know the current wearers of the baggy green aren't doing so well but that's really not an excuse to leave out The Don.
Bin scuplture at AdelaideBin scuplture at AdelaideBin scuplture at Adelaide

Sadly this is the only photo we have from Adelaide which is worth publishing.
Although he did mention the Tour Down Under which starts in two weeks time, so we'll not be here then - typical!
We got a whole day to wander around Adelaide, but spent a large chunk of it catching up on the sleep we missed out on for two nights on the train. The city is fairly laid back and it is easy to do nothing here, we took a short tour of the CBD and Chinatown and rode around on the free trams looking at the architecture.
On the 4th January we got back on the train for another overnight ride, this time to Sydney. We got bored of the train fairly quickly and were just waiting it out to get to the end of the journey. There was a brief moment of panic when I thought I'd left a bag at Broken Hill but we eventually found it again and after that we were back to staring out the window for entertainment.


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Red cabin on Indian PacificRed cabin on Indian Pacific
Red cabin on Indian Pacific

Yes, it really is that narrow!
Hand dryer signHand dryer sign
Hand dryer sign

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