Adelaide to Perth by the Indian- Pacific

Trip Start Jul 31, 2005
Trip End Feb 18, 2007

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Monday, March 13, 2006

From the Pacific Coast of Australia, right over to the Indian Coast, the Indian-Pacific is a train that runs across the entire width of Australia in 3 days. Although this is our chosen method of transport to arrive in Perth, we're going to cheat a little bit! We've already travelled from Adelaide to Sydney overland last December, so we're going to fly that bit and pick up the train in Adelaide.

When we arrive at the station, the passengers almost entirely come from 2 categories, pensioners and backpackers. They must be the only people with enough time on their hands to undertake such a ridiculously long train journey..

Despite there being just 2 trains per week, and the train having a 5 hour break in Adelaide, it still manages to leave 2 hours late...
Half an hour outside of Adelaide and all the power fails in our carriage. Gee, after this experience, we'll never complain about British trains again :) We take refuge in the bar, and before we know it, we've consumed enough wine to return to our seats and fall fast sleep.

We wake up at the break of dawn, with the strong desert sun beaming across our carriage. We've now moved into the start of the Nullabor Plain, the huge flat part of Southern Australia. Plain boring would be a better name, as for the entire day which it takes to cross it, you are staring at what must be among the most monotonous scenery on this planet. Not a tree in sight, just endless scrub. It's so flat that it enabled the designers to build the longest straight stretch of railway line in the world (an impressive 478 kilometres long). Half way across the plain, is the town of Cook(population of 4) which is one of the most isolated settlements anywhere. We stop to stretch our legs, take some photos, gawk at the length of the train, before we continue to Kalgoorlie, a gold mining town with a wild west feel. The train spends a few hours in Kalgoorlie, enabling people to take a look around the town, after which it continues on for another 12 hours, arriving into Perth early the next morning.

The Indian-Pacific is billed as one of the world's great train journeys. This might be so if you're travelling in a 1st class cabin, but if you are a backpacker travelling on a budget, and have to make do with 3 days in a seat, it feels like anything but great.

We've come a long way to get here, but we're finally in Perth, the most isolated major city on earth. It's immediately clear that this city looks and feels so different from any other urban settlement in Australia. It's isolation must be the reason for this and also the reason for it's gleaming unpolluted blue sky.

The streets are so clean, the city centre is well designed and easy to walk around, the bars and pubs seem to have so much more character than their East Coast equivalents, even the people seem different from other Australians.

In the evening we meet up with Glen, our vodka drinking comrade from the Trans Siberian trip, who shows us around some of Perth's great night spots.

As if Perth hasn't impressed us enough already, we make a trip over to charming Fremantle. There's just something special about this place, it's like an old fashioned European city, transported into the new world, with it's great cafes, countless trendy bars and very attractive architecture, we can see why people rave about this place so much.

Overall, we are really glad we made the effort to come over to Perth, it has been our favourite Australian city so far. Despite it's isolation, a 4.5 hour "domestic" flight from Sydney, if we were going to go live anywhere in Australia, this is where we'd come!
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