Here we are on the Indian Pacific, rolling the width of the USA from west to east for three nights. Snug in a cabin that holds a double by night and transforms into a sitting area by day. But it has an ensuite bathroom, since Sandee just will not travel without that feature wherever she is in the world. Carry on luggage she will accept, but private loo and shower and wifi is her minimum requirement. This trip however has no wifi, so that was a give.
The ticket however allows for unlimited drinking, so who needs wifi in that case? (unfortunately her daily allowance in calories puts a dent in the unlimited element)
The train is 28 carriages long and has several touristic stops along the way.
We leave before noon the Perth railway station and our first stop is Kalgoorie, the gold capital of Australia since the discovery in 1893. Unfortunately the buses, that were waiting for the hundred plus passengers on our train, were waiting in the dark as we boarded them around 11:30pm. Even the ladies of the night (a must for any self respecting miners town) had ceased working - or had overnight guests.
We got a running commentary about early 1900 facades and the first prospectors striking it rich. One mine to be visited was not accessible as the key to the padlock was missing, and when we entered the second strip mine we did not "alight" the bus for a walk in the dark to the edge of the pit. We were told later, that we missed a light fest of large Caterpillars (the one and only good thing coming from the Chicago area - lest I forget John Deere) which were doing 60 ton scoops of dirt every few minutes to be dumped in large machines that wash out the gold 24/7. We were told that this 3.6km long pit aims to keep scooping till 2029, if gold prices keep above certain price levels. The mining museum they opened just for our three bus loads had one of those CAT's on display, but it was too dark for a picture. They seem, by the way, to consume 1 liter of gasoline per 30 meter/33 yard.
Beyond the fact, that this town has three buses trolling through town at midnight, this was not a highlight of our trip.
We woke up in the famous Nullarbor the next morning. Nullarbor is Australian slang for the Latin phrase "no trees". If there is any reason not to take this sight seeing trip, it would be this sight for a full day and night. It however underscores the fact that Australia's citizens live a "coastal" life. Besides some birds and maybe desert critters I never spotted, no self respecting animal roams this territory.
This brings me to the million plus wild camels that reside in Australia's inland and when caught are being exported to Afghanistan as a very pure race, highly desired by the Afghans. They roam the northern part of Australia, so we never saw them. We were told that the Afghans and their camels helped build the railroads crossing the country west to east and north to south.
The Afghans left or became Aussies, the camels stayed and multiplied and became a royal pest as they eat whatever is available in this arid world, in which cattle farmers try to exist. We crossed one of the largest cattle stations (farm) in Australia, but did not see cattle from the train. They corral their cattle with planes and four wheelers. The largest farm is 6 million acres large, that is 20 percent larger than the country of Belgium.
The next excursion in the middle of the Nullabor, this time around noon is the ghost town, since 1997, of Cook with a population of 4. Those two couples operate the train refueling station here. We wander around there and find the pool and the school, just see the pictures.
(Adelaide seems to say "chocolate city")
We drove by Tarcoola with few residents there. I have a few pictures. When we arrived at Adelaide in the morning, buses showed us this one kilometer square town laid out in a grid, surrounded all the way with 760 hectare of parks. The only city in the whole wide world completely surrounded by parks. It's designer, colonel William Light, was not a park lover. He considered the feature a defense system for cannons.
The main street in Auckland is King William Street and because Commoners should not cross royalty, the street names on either side of King William street are different in the grid street town, so as to make certain no commoner was crossing The King.
Another cute element was the Koala bear crossing wires allowing Koalas to cross the interstate concrete center divider (see picture). We were also told that sensors monitor the tunnels, and if a monitor finds koalas in the tunnel, the traffic is stopped till the koalas have exited the tunnel.
The last place we stopped on this tour to climb onto a bus was another mining city called Broken Hill. Called the silver city, it is the longest perpetually inhabited mining town in Australia with a memorial we visited remembering the 800 plus miners who died here doing their job. About 50 of them were registered in the last 20 years as "heart attack" victims. That told me that diagnostics in the years before that did not have the means to diagnose "heart attacks".
We arrived in Sydney the next morning and left for Auckland New Zealand the following day