Thursday, 10 November 2011

Broken Hill to Sydney

My 3 days in Broken Hill went like lightening, it wasnt really enough & I wanted to stay on for a few more days but I've got a train ticket & pre-booked accommodation in Sydney.

The 4.30pm train didnt arrive until 5.40 but still left at 6.30 so buggered anyone with a planned whistlestop tour of Broken Hill. This will be a tougher test of the day/nighter seat comfort as the train is due into Sydney at 10am tomorrow morning so I have to sleep in what amounts to a 48 bed dorm; mind you most flights are 300 bed dorms.

10 years ago my day/nighter seat carriage was full of backpackers & Korean & Japanese tour groups but this one is almost 90% domestic travellers & most in the upper age bracket - a sign of the times I guess. There are far fewer staff in Red class & they always seem to be rushing from carriage to carriage but they're friendly, if you can catch their attention.

I went down to the dining car around 8pm but the cupboard was bare - no meals, pies, pasties or anything except a bag of crisps, I should have bought some backup food!

It wasnt a bad nights sleep, much better than last time, the seats are probably as good as a seat can be; there's masses of leg room & they recline almost to 45 degrees but I twist & turn & fidget a lot & you just can't do that in a seat.

I woke up to a raising sun with rolling wheat fields, scattered clumps of unfamilar trees & cattle sitting or grazing. Its very misty & there were lots of low laying artificial ponds to collect any run-off. Its a well farmed area with occasional farm houses, neatly planted orchards & a few small vineyards.

There are a some sprawling bungalow towns before the Blue Mountains, which are about 3 hours west of Sydney. A train announcement tells passengers that the Blue Mountains are a raised plateau with deep valleys rather than actual mountains. Eucalytus & blue gum trees (same thing I thought?) clad hills disappear into the distance in every direction; grasses & an under story of shrubs appear to grow dirctly out of bare rock. The Eucalytus trees give off a fine oil vapour that mix with moisture in the atmosphere to form classic blue haze that is unique to the Blue Mountains.

The train is very slow & stops constantly as there is lots of track work & we eventually arrive in Sydney 3 hours late.

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