Great Train Journeys
07 May 2019
From what I see on the tele, yes, even tele way over here, that Michael Portillo chap, you know, the muppet with the posh voice and daft coloured jackets seems to have a grand time creeping around the UK on various train journeys, so I thought, "why not?" Missing only Joseph's technicolor dreamcoat I headed off to the local train station, courtesy of John and Sue who are looking after me while Anne's away on her granny pass. John and Sue were having a respite break and handing me off to my new guardians, Johann and Henriette (Scolomanzi) for the weekend as they in turn had to go and look after Travis. Awfully nice people.
Anyway, Australia has two great train journeys. The Indian Pacific which runs from Sydney to Perth, three thousand miles across the Nullafbor desert and the Ghan, which goes north/south across the continent from Adelaide to Darwin. It's named after the Afghan tribesmen who used to run the camel trains around the desert in the days before wheeled transport. The Afghans have gone but both the train and the camels remain. A few grand will get you a cabin, a window and, if you behave and have good table manners you can get access to the dining car at meal times, otherwise, you stay in your eeny weeny living space, where, if by any chance you brought along the family cat, it's quite safe if you're into swinging. Cats that is.
However, to do it in style you really need to chuck in another few grand which gets you into Agatha Christie territory with an Orient Express style lounge, bar and restaurant in which you can sit and chat to your fellow travellers, no doubt sporting safari suits and waxed moustaches. We thought about doing one of these trips but ended up stuffed in the back of the Land Cruiser instead.
And so, knowing of my plight, spinning around at anchor in the Coomera River, Johann and Henriette invited me up to their place, a couple of hours train ride north.
The trip didn't start too well as firstly, the stink boat occupying the dock I was meant to get overstayed his welcome and didn't leave until about an hour before my train. He finally went and I hauled up the anchor, which, after a week of dancing around with the tide every six hours was just one big knot of chain and steel.
Finally with the boat tied up, the chain knot undone, i was ready to go. Right up until my Uber app crashed. To the rescue, my carers John and Sue who whisked me to the airport for what should have been a quick two hour ride north.
But then, Australia has learnt a number of things from the Motherland. Bureaucracy, for one. Bank holiday weekend track maintenance the other.
The planned two hour trip, during which I should have been sitting, relaxed in my smoking jacket, turned into a seven hour marathon with the added enjoyment of a bus trip in the middle.
I suspect the Afghans might have been faster than Trans Link last weekend. But not faster than me on Johann's other Harley.