It’s 10 o’clock in the morning, we are Friday the 3rd of october. Sitting aboard the Indian Pacific in our huge plush chairs, we wait. A whistle sound. That’s it, we go ! The train pulls into a cacophony of rattles and metal squeaks as a long lament of a tired old car.
Behind us, three adorable little girls quickly become a nightmare, unable to speak in an other way than screaming and doing a lot of caprices which their mother yields under the pressure of screams. We succeed somehow, after a while, to ignore the sound of their voice. We will spend more than 24 hours with them.
Our train, 635m long pulled by 2 blue and yellow locomotives, slowly leaves Adelaide to head to Petersbourough and Broken Hill. We will then cross the desert and the bush until Barthust, then roll over the Blue Mountains to get to Sydney.
Petersbourough reached, an old farmer climbs aboard and sit next to us. Obviously missing company he keeps repeating the same thing to everyone who comes near his seat. And when no one pass, he tries to talk with us. We can catch only 1 word out of 5 he speaks, it’s not easy.
We had planned to read and admire the scenery peacefully, well, it’s going to be complicated…
While leaving the train station of this small town, the radio starts. A guitar accompanied by a harmonica plays a sad country tune on which a brokenhearted cowboy tells a beautiful love song. Then comes a trumpet and a banjo playing an old New Orleans jazz swing, on the frenzied rhythm of a brush on a drum.
The landscape changes from large green fields to that big flat and dry desert, with yellow and orange colors. There is absoluty no living soul in view, except for some great red kangaroos bouncing here and there. We have a 2 hours stop in Broken Hill where we enjoy the sunset. We do not visit the city, because we already did it on our last trip here.
We leave at night, bow our seats and fall into the arms of Morpheus.
At daybreak, we are already awake. Everybody in the wagon is snoozing peacefully. Thick fog sticks to the train like a pea puree. We stand silently on the platform between two cars, where a large window allows us to see outside at leisure and in privacy. The fleece rug encompass everything. The contours of a phantasmagorical landscape emerge here and there. Nature holds its breath. Large plant shadows arise unexpectedly at some turns. We guess the presence of sheep and cattle grazing below. Tchika-tchok Tchika-tchok, made the train. The blue fog clears, and suddenly everything changes. The hill gives birth to a large pale yellow disk. In the euphoric rebirth in the morning he turns, he fights. Its rays pierce his fog prison on a striking diffraction. We see the world against the light.
Then the train came into the heights and our hearts mark a stop. We just pierce through the cotton cover. It is so beautiful that it’s almost painful. Googly eyes so great that tears come, holding our breath, we stick our faces at the window in the vain hope to belong a little while to the wonderful world that stretches at our feet. But the train does not stop, and the landscape scrolls, idyllic, uplifting purity.
We admire together this daily miracle. But soon the beauty decays, the sun rises, the reliefs flatten. We return to our seats and give an end to both of the lemon biscuits boxes made by Rosa. They are so delicious that they will be swallowed up to the last before reaching Sydney.
Then the train slowed down and squirming, he slowly climbs a gentle slope in zigzags to be positioned on a ridge at the top of the Blue Mountains. The ride offers us a unique view of this huge endless valley covered with eucalyptus which leaves give off that bluish glow that gave its name to the region.
Finally we reach the terminus, Central Station in the heart of Sydney, from where we will start a new adventure to the north: 2300km to Townsville, final objective of our Australian trip.
Tintin & Riette