Traveling on the Indian Pacific

The Indian Pacific is an overland train between Sydney and Perth. You can travel the whole distance, or choose part of it, like me. I traveled from Sydney to Adelaide by train. I wish I could say it was cheap or fast, but if you do this, you do it for the experience. It takes about as long as a bus trip and is more expensive than a flight. It’s all about the experience of traveling through the outback.

broken hill stationLike at the airport you check in your luggage, and they are strict with the weight limitations. On of my bags is too heavy, so I have to switch some stuff around and stuff my cooler bag full of shoes and towels. You are allowed to check in two bags, as long as each one is not too heavy. My seat is in the red coach class, but if you want to do it in style you can pay for the Gold class, which takes a big chunk out of your bank account.

The seats are big and very comfy. Way better than in airplanes or busses. You always have to be a bit lucky though. Next to me sits a guy who thinks it is totally normal to make all sorts of weird sounds. As soon as the train leaves, a beer can opens and the burping starts. Lovely… Even though I’m in the coach class, it feels like a luxurious place. I don’t have a bed, but the recliner chairs are a good alternative. We are greeted by one of the employees: “So good to see this sea of smiling faces.” As we make our way through the Blue Mountains, we get some information about the region.

broken hillAt 7AM the next day we stop in Broken Hill, where there is the possibility to do a whistle-stop tour. It isn’t very expensive so I join the group. It turns out we are driving around Broken Hill for an hour in an air-conditioned coach. The train is so long it doesn’t even fit on the platform. The Gold class has to get out first, then it drives a bit further and we in the Red class can get out. Quickly I walk to the bus. About one-third of the passengers couldn’t walk well anymore. It was like I joined the senior citizens club.

During our hour-long tour we hurriedly drove through the streets. We didn’t even stop once. People were taking pictures from behind the windows, listening to what the driver had to say. The man thought he was funny. “A man didn’t feel well and got the advise to take pill 9. The next day the doctor asked how he was feeling. The man told him he couldn’t find pill 9, so he took 7 and 2.” Not everyone can be a comedian.  I wouldn’t recommend this particular tour.

After this intermezzo the train continued. It was a great experience. The landscape was bare, with a few green-yellow grasses scattered over the dirt. Every now and then I saw a purple plant or a small bush. There was nothing else until the horizon, apart from a few kangaroos that were hopping away as the train approached. Some others are just staring at it. As if they think: “What’s that big, ugly, silver thing doing on our land?” Traveling on this train makes me feel like I’m in an Australian movie. This is what the outback is supposed to be like.

The last hours before Adelaide we see some small towns. Sometimes the train stops to pick someone up or drop someone off. In the middle of nowhere we stop. We are told to look to the right. The Ghan, the train from Adelaide to Darwin rushes past. It looks endless, just like the train I am in. As the cows grow in numbers and there are more and more green fields, we are getting close to Adelaide. Unfortunately it is getting cloudy and chilly as well. The train stops in Adelaide, where I jump off and other go on another whistle-stop tour. I’ve reached my destination.

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