...Perth to Perth in 30 hours with attendant style!
We took the train, with the car, to hasten back east, having spent maximum time in Western Australia.
It is something that most people do only once, certainly to travel in 'Golden Kangaroo' class, with comfortable cabins and silver service and (very pleased to discover) excellent meals... all that requires some saving up or disposable income.
The train has some glamour... this is an etched wedge-tailed eagle on a glass panel. The wedge tailed eagle, Australia's largest eagle is the Indian Pacific symbol.
For Great Southern Railways the logistic undertaking is extraordinary. With a conductor for every two carriages, a train over 600 metres long weighing over 1100 tonnes, with only about 250 passengers, less than most airline flights from Perth to Adelaide or Sydney, it is an expensive and complex undertaking — owning the carriages, putting on the whole show and contracting for the engine services and the use of tracks.
Our not-quite-trancontinental plan was to take the train from Perth to Adelaide, with the car loaded behind... then Ev to fly from Adelaide to Darwin to meet the new grandchild, Dennis to drive the final thousand+ kms home.
Leaving Perth Wednesday 1 November just before midday, arriving Adelaide at breakfast time Friday 3 November.
For a girl with a new camera, a time for learning and pleasure
We had a variety of fellow passengers. We met as Swiss couple and a Japanese couple and an English couple, here to do something special. But for the most part the passengers were Australians and they were a mixed group, for some this was a once only occasion, for others a segment in an amazing recitation of cruises and other luxury travel occasions. We were, it has to be said, at the lower end of the age spectrum in Golden Kangaroo, younger people relatively few.
We were at dinner on the first evening, approaching Kalgoorlie, about one fifth of the way from Perth to Adelaide, when the Train Manager announced that there was a problem.
Far ahead, in south Australia, at Tarcoola, where the Indian Pacific line meets the Ghan line (where red and blue meet on the map) a thunderstorm has washed away track and a freight train had been derailed, falling on the service road to complicate matters.
We took our late night tour of Kalgoorlie, then learned that the train would remain overnight there and on the next day would take us back to Perth. It was going to take a long time to repair the track.
And so we and the car came off the train in Perth after a 30 hour trip.
We had had our Indian Pacific experience.
We could see it was a major upset for some. We ourselves had time to turn around and drive instead — that was to take us from Friday to Wednesday, 3600km by the time we made a couple of side trips.
Great Southern Railways did everything they could for all the passengers — a night in a hotel, a refund of ticket and organisation of onward travel if possible plus a big discount on travel again before December 2007 if we wished to take the Indian Pacific or the Ghan. It is a great company providing a remarkable service.
As the train rolled back into Perth Bianca rang from Darwin with the news of the new grandson, Bindi and Matumba's new son, Darliston. And soon after, we received Bianca's photo...
Bindi and Darli 2 November 2006... you can see this picture again on its own page here! :-)