Following yesterday’s post I’m concerned that some of you may have doubted the folding loo story, and that’s a fair call as I am very hard to take seriously, but………behold!
That my friends is NOT a holiday, we were travelling on The Ghan not The Calcutta Express remember. And no, I’m not posting a photo of it in the down position as that is just gross and we are not resorting totally to potty talk on my lovely blog. That is not to say that we don’t have a photograph, I mean come on, when else are we going to see one of these?? But it’s the 21st Century for heaven’s sakes; surely there is something more ingenious than this contraption? You could even see glimpses of the rails going past in the floor grate when it was in the up position, yes really.
So we’ve arrived at Part Two of my epic travel story, in the style of the old Victorian penny dreadful serial, complete with Dickensian aspects. I’ll skip straight to the end of our flight from BrisVegas to when we arrived in Adelaide for the first leg of our trip on The Ghan……….
Tuesday 7th July 2009: Flying over the Barossa Valley, South Australia and the view was stunning…….then it happened…….we came over the last great ridge of interesting land and into the flat and featureless city of Adelaide. I believe even the birds may have stopped singing at this point but of course I can’t prove that. The drive from the airport was mainly in silence; we stared out almost teary eyed at street after street of shabby, old and lifeless districts. Now don’t get me wrong, some people love Adelaide, it does have world class wine, and a couple of nice beaches, our visa was processed there and a friend who transferred with work enthuses about how ‘refined’ it is in comparison to Brisbane. Let me tell you, we walked for miles, and miles, and miles looking for something, anything, to happen in Adelaide….but it didn’t. The first ‘sculpture’ we saw when we left the hotel set the tone for the day: it was made in the style of crash test dummies fused together in some horrific and unholy conglomeration fashioned from concrete outside the Driving Centre….. “noice/interesting/unusual” as Kath and Kim would say, “weird/creepy/and down-right depressing” as we said. We had several meal conversations on The Ghan the next day with fellow travellers that went something like this, (all in whispered tones just in case anyone from Adelaide was within earshot), “ so, what did you think of Adelaide”??? “did you find anything to do?” Thankfully things improved vastly when we found the door marked Exit and left Adelaide.
As I didn’t bother taking ANY photographs in Adelaide here’s some more of The Ghan; God, I’d forgotten just how magnificent this train is (if you don’t include the toilet facilities)…..
Wednesday 8th – An overweight luggage debacle at check in and then we were finally boarding The Ghan. There was a very polished and jaunty send off by the Adelaide staff on the platform, but let’s face it, with little else to do in their home town they probably have plenty of spare time for rehearsals, and with an “All Aboard” and a toot toot we were on our way. The landscape became drier and more barren, and despite all attempts to strain eyes and binoculars there appeared to be no form of life for miles. Though it’s arguable whether a person or animal in Adelaide is actually alive. We enjoyed our regimented meal sittings and the optional audio commentary in our cabins; though not the poetry reading which was pretty hopeless. Spoken not as you would think, with a much read knowingness, but with emphasis in all the wrong places as if it was a.) a real surprise to her, b.) she was new to the job, or c.) she had spent her entire life in Adelaide and was still totally overwhelmed to have been granted a ticket out of there.
Sunset was beautiful, and the gentle motion of the train very relaxing. We woke the next day to find ourselves quite literally in the outback where the landscape is punctuated regularly by abandoned tyres and occasionally, (and I just loved this), whole trees decorated with tyres like some sort of shrine. We began to see signs of camel herds, the largest population of wild camels anywhere in the world, all descended from the abandoned Afghan camels used by the early explorers. God only knows what they eat out there. Each other probably. Or maybe tyre trees.
Thursday 9th – Arrive at Alice Springs – The Heart, The Soul, The Centre, and where most people’s journey truly begins……..
If you can bear to read anymore, part three will follow shortly…….