2004 Journey Australia Erik's Travels

The Indian Pacific

Saturday night I arrived at Spencer Street Station in Melbourne to begin my train journey to Perth, the most isolated city in the world. I was down in the bathroom and a old Australian guy with a hawaiian shirt, long white beard, scraggly outback hat and a bad case of B.O. asked me if I was heading all the way to Perth.

“Yep” I said and his response was “It’s a fucking long way mate. A fucking long way.” That was Ray.

Upstairs in the waiting area Ray invited me to sit with his wife, Mary, and himself and eat grapes with them. As we were talking they played the “grape game” where they threw a few grapes onto the floor and tried to bet on which passerby would step on them. Then we got on board “The Overland,” which is the train that runs between Melbourne and Adelaide. It was a pretty comfortable ride because I had too seats to myself and I dozed off as the train ran through the night. We arrived into Adelaide around 8am Sunday and had until 6pm to explore the city as I had to wait for the arrival of the “Indian Pacific,” which is the train that runs between Sydney and Perth. I spent the day wandering around the city center and the park terraces that border each side of the central area. I bought a few groceries for the train ride and went back to the train station to start the long ride to Perth. The train had two coaches for the “Day/Night Seater Red Kangaroo Class,” such a nicer name then “coach” or “over-energetic young child transport section.”

The train was pretty full, with the few extra seats that remained immediately guarded by their new owners. The train ride was fun though. Everyone got to know each other and I spent most of my time in the lounge car which had couch like seats that were far superior to the regular seats. The food in the “Red Kangaroo Buffet Coach” was pretty crap, but I guess with only a microwave to cook with that’s what happens.

Monday night the train stopped in Kalgoorlie, a small mining town, to re-supply the train. We had three hours to kill so a small group headed off to find the local pub. Find it we did and as we walked in we were greeted by lots of loud, drunk, screaming miners who were watching the end of a boxing match on the tele. The local favorite did not win and it there was some very loud booing. The drinks were being served by a few girls who had apparently forgotten to get fully dressed before they went to work that night. After a few “sleeping aids” we all headed back to the train thinking of how funny it would be if someone got too drunk and forgot to make it back in time.

The second night of sleep went pretty good, that is until I woke up at 4am and struggled to get back to sleep. You see, sleeping on trains kind of sucks. The seats don’t lean back very far and there is just not to much room to spread out. Couple that with severe ass soreness that develops after sitting in the same seat for endless hours and sleep turns into a hard to win battle. Luckily for me the English girl who was sitting next to me decided she was going to sleep on the floor so I had a bit more room to work with.

The train was running a few hours late because a freight train had somehow knocked a power line across the tracks when were were just a few hours away from Perth. We finally pulled into the East Perth Station around noon on Tuesday.