Sunday, May 26, 2013

Darwin to Adelaide – The Ghan – and Catching Up

26 May 2013

 We had a quiet day or two after my billabong cruise, then caught The Ghan back south.  We’re familiar with train travel across Australia by now, so we stocked up on food for the train (rolls work better than bread; individually wrapped cheese is good; small cans of tuna are okay; apples are better than bananas, obviously; cookies are essential).  And we were good to go.

I recognized a few people from the billabong trip, some in our Red Seat section, others in the posh cabins.  We got comfortable, and enjoyed the relaxation of train travel – lots of time to enjoy the views out the windows, read our kindles, and nap.  We stopped in both Katherine (where it was hot) and Alice Springs (where it was cold), but having spent time in both places previously we chose to stay on the train.  We’re also both nursing Singaporean colds, so staying warm and dry seemed like the smartest choice.

No wallaby or camel sightings on this tour, but we did see three dingoes – one dingo was walking in the Finke River bed – this is supposedly the oldest river on the planet (we don’t know how that determination was made) – but it’s a dry river bed in the middle of the continent, with a few waterholes, and this dingo walking through looking for a meal.  The other two dingoes were actually hanging out together a few hours south of the Finke, in cattle country – again, probably looking for a meal, maybe even thinking about taking down a cow.  

And a vast amount of flat scrubby desert.

It was interesting, because when we headed out to Perth or north to Darwin, it was hot hot hot – and the heat makes those shimmery heat lines and creates reflections of the sky, making the mirage of water in the desert.  Those mirages were obvious as we traveled in hot weather.  But now that it’s late autumn in the southern hemisphere, mid-Australia is cold, and the heat mirages are gone.  Just an interesting thing I noticed.

We arrived back in Adelaide on Friday, and have been enjoying our familiar places – we’re staying at the same motel/backpacker hostel, and have eaten at some of the same familiar cafés.  In fact, some of the waitstaff recognized us, so it sort of is like coming “home.”  I think the Koala Mint pokie machine recognized me, because he treated me fairly well.  (Although this weekend the Pirate Queen machines have been my best friend, paying rather well and giving me multiple free games.  And then there was the Venetian Nights, which paid out after my investment of $2.  We watch people pour hundreds of dollars into the machines, and walk away with several hundred dollars.  I’m happy to begin with $20 and double or triple my money.  But, as I said, this weekend has gone well, and we have some “found” money to play with.)

Today started out foggy and grey, but the fog burned off and we had a gorgeous sunny day.  So we hopped onto the tram and rode out to Glen Elg, the sea port and beach town.  It’s a very pretty town, with a beautiful beach and lovely Victorian buildings, and a pier out into the Tasman from which people were fishing.  There were a few crazy people swimming in the water – the day was maybe 65 degrees at the hottest point, I have no idea how cold that water might have been.  I just know that we kept our sweaters and jackets on, and there was no way we’d even dip a toe into that water – so swimming or playing in the sea just seemed insane!

Instead, we took some pokie money and had high tea at a posh hotel right off the beach.  It was so British, straight out of Jane Austen or Noel Streatfield!  We were served finger sandwiches, tartlets and other pastries, and scones (with cream and jam) on a tiered plate – I had pots of Earl Grey, Richard enjoyed the drip coffee – and we munched the little goodies to our hearts content.  We weren’t able to polish off the scones (they were small, but more than two apiece was just overkill, no matter how delightful they might be!).  It was just a very fun trip out to the beach on a sunny but chilly day.

We hopped back on the tram and are enjoying our warm and cozy room back at the motel/hostel.  And we’ll venture out for some dinner and maybe another pokie or two later on tonight.

We’ve booked a room at an artists’ loft in a suburb just south of Sydney – we head out on Tuesday morning, and have a 24 hour trip.  We’re both excited about Sydney, but for different reasons – Richard loves cities, and I’m looking forward to holding a koala at the zoo!  (New South Wales is koala country.)

We manage to have fun, wherever we go, so we’ll report in when we get to Sydney, or if anything exciting happens before then! 


  1. What a nice article. The variety of billabong trip you encountered is amazing, and each had its own special beauty. I look forward to seeing your next adventure.

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  2. Thank you, John. We're having a wonderful time exploring Australia!