Sunday, 30 October 2011

On the Overland

In the "what a time to be alive department", the old railway station in Bordertown had no people working there, but instead had a sign listing train times and some numbers to call for more information. One of these was that of the train manager to be called while the train was in motion. In order to make the getting Leonardo on the train an easier process for all concerned, I phoned the train manager to let him know that I was bringing a bike and to ask where I should stand on the platform. I am suspicious that I was the only passenger getting on at Bordertown as he asked if I was Mr. Daniel G---, which I was. He told me that the train would first stop to load the bike and then move on for the passengers. He also said the train was about 30 minutes late.

I decided to make use of my Thermarest. I inflated it, and lay down on it in the shade to wait. The station is an attractive building near the center of Bordertown that is currently unused for any function. Were I an enterprising Bordertonian, I would buy it and use it as some sort of business in the restaurant or related line.
As the time for the train drew near, I deflated the Thermarest and began to chat with some locals who were waiting for people on the train. One old woman explained to me how the town used to be junction between rail lines featuring three different gauges! Broad, standard and narrow. I had noticed that the ties were such that they had three points to affix the rails, leading to two options. The woman said that it was only about five years ago that the conversion from broad to standard gauge had happened.

Eventually the train arrived. Unexpectedly, it didn't stop first for the bike, but immediately put down passengers. Leonardo was put in the last passenger car by myself and a railway employee. The last car wasn't being used by passengers, so I think they put it there to save time and hassle, particularly as they were running late. My suspicion is reinforced by the fact they didn't charge me for the bike! A good thing too as the official cost would have been $40 AUD. Incidentally, my fare was $31 AUD with a backpacker discount authorized by my HI card! I called Diane in Adelaide to let her know the train was late.
I settled into a comfy chair in the relatively empty last passenger car in use. After leafing through Southern Rail's on-board magazine, I moseyed forward to the kiosk to get myself a tinny of VB. The broad plains of South Australia zipped by with sheep and the odd kangaroo to remind me of where I was.
Eventually, the landscape became more hilly, before we crossed the Murray River at Murray Bridge. Then the sole locomotive began to have a hard job hauling the relatively long passenger train (by my standards) up through the ranges. The track was about the most winding I have ever been on. At least on a train. The Kettle Valley Railroad and the Columbia and Western trailways come close. There were at least six tunnels between Murray Bridge and Adelaide, and the speed of the train dropped as we wound our way past SA's famous vineyards.
Rob met me at the station. We loaded Leonardo into Diane's old Volvo station wagon. Rob stopped to pick Diane up at work before we got to their house on the edge of the hills surrounding Adelaide.
Over a meal of mushroom soup, veal, beer and South Australian wine, we chatted and gossiped away the evening. Rob is a relatively keen cyclist and had a supply of bike maps. Unfortunately, the most useful one to me was AWOL. He later printed off a copy from the Net. However, as it wasn't particularly readable, I made a point of picking up some more recent maps downtown today and giving them to Rob for his files. Rob told me that bikes sold in Australian are supposed to have their brakes reversed from the "standard" practice. That is the left brake handle controls the rear brake, etc. He wasn't sure why, but we agreed that it was most logically to free the right hand to make hand signals.
Adelaide isn't terribly hard to navigate for the novice except for a few exceptions. I bummed around...
...found some better bike maps of Adelaide before having...
...a meat pie floater for lunch. In the afternoon, I checked out the South Australia Museum.
In the evening, Rob, Diane and I went for supper at a very nice gastro pub where I had kangaroo again. I also paid figuring I owed them. Anyway, I should get going for today. Places to see and all that. Tomorrow, I will be taking the train for Broken Hill.
October 31, 9:00 AM local time.


Anonymous said...

Train to Broken Hill, then where? Susan

Bikemoose said...

I ride to Silverton on a one-day excursion and then pack Leonardo. On Friday, I fly to Sydney. On Saturday, I fly home.