Our train left Sydney this afternoon at 2.55 pm.
We spent a day in Sydney yesterday doing some shopping and then had a wonderful dinner with Jill & Derek King and Graham & Janice Chalkely who we met on our Rhine River Cruise. Jill made a wonderful meal and we chatted until quite late before heading back to our hotel in the city.
After checking out of our hotel this morning, we drove past Central Station to find the location of the lace where we needed to check in our car to travel on the train to Perth. We found it in a different place than we expected and then filled in some time by driving out to Bondi and then back again.
We checked the car in to the Motor Rail service about two hours before the train left and watched as the man drove it up the ramp onto the train. He needed some instructions how to get it started and I assume that it was locked and shut down properly once it was loaded. We then had to walk right along the length of the platform to the gate where we would board the train. All the train nerds were out with their cameras taking pictures of the locomotives, so I thought that it was safe for me to do so as well.
I am reminded that train stations are very different from airports. At the airport I find designer shops, while at the station I find ordinary cafes, women’s refuges and tattoo parlours. We found a cafe in the corner of the station area that sold food that was at least edible and settled down for at a table for a sandwich and a coffee. I must say that it is very disconcerting to find two amorous pigeons having sex under your feet while you are eating your egg and lettuce sandwhich.
Our train (Indian Pacific) was too long to fit into one platform, so it was split into two halves which were positioned on either side of the platform. We found our seats (15 & 16 in car M) and surveyed our home for the next three days and 4300 kilomtres. While Jill got her stuff sorted, I walked down to the end of the platform to ‘supervise’ the shunting of the car carriers onto the front of the train. Then the locomotives moved the carriages on the right side of the platform onto the front of those on the left side of the platform and exactly at our departure time of 2.55 pm, we pulled out of Central Staton.
Our compartment has a three seated lounge seat ghat converts into a lower bunk and another upper bunk that folds down from the wall. We have enough storage space for a couple of small bags and a little shower and toilet that reminds of the one that I had on my ship to Antarxtica. The bunk is just long enough for me to lie out flat. I think tat it’s much more comfortable sitting on the lounge car (where we had a drink before dinner) as you cans see out both sides of the train.
The train is very long. I guess that there are about 20 carriages along with the two car carriers at the front of the train that each hold 8 vehicles. When we get to Broken Hill in the morning, I’ll walk along the length of the train and count them all. We have two locomotives. Our carriage is the last of the Gold Class cars. If we walk to the end of the carriage, we look back into a seating car with already stupefied looking people who are sitting up all the way to wherever they are going. Its just as well that the door is locked and the ‘Hoi Paloi’ can’t come forward into this section of the train.
We started with a slow trip through Sydney’s western suburbs and a long slow climb through the Blue MountIns. On the curvy track, I could look out the window and see that our carriage is roughly in the middle of the train. It was quite dark by the time that we passed through Katoomba. We were called to our dinner in the dining car just before we reached Lithgow and we had finished our meal about the same time as we stopped in Bathurst.
Well that’s about all for today. Now I’m off to get ready to climb the skinny little ladder to my top bunk and retire for the night. Let’s see how we sleep. This section of the track seems to still have wooden sleepers and the train rocks and rolls a lot. If it were a plane, you would think that you were in an area of constant light turbulence. I just need to plug our phones and Ipad in to the charger by the mirror so that they have some power for tomorrow.