Thursday 20th August

There were clouds on the horizon! Almost the first we have seen in Australia. It was still warm enough to sit outside for breakfast and watched as birds swooped and called.  Helen has got some interesting plants…..

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We were to set off for the next leg of the Ghan and the girls were to take a flight just after midday to Sydney. Our sojourn in middle Australia was nearing and end, but was a sojourn it has been!

Before we left we decided to have a walk around Helen’s ‘estate’. In addition to the indigenous trees there were some amazing plants with very odd protuberances and appendages. There was also a very well established full sized lemon tree – with giant lemons. It really must be a lot of work with a constant battle with buffel grass to keep any fires away from the house. There was evidence of a lot of hard work to keep the buffel grass at bay.  Even greater evidence of the battle with the environment was her red Massey Fergusson tractor. It was huge! Helen is not a great deal bigger than me – how she deals with that and it’s various appliances I am not quite sure but what I do know is that it makes me feel very whimpish!!

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Our stroll over, we set off for the airport – armed with two large rubbish bags. Helen does not have a dustbin collection she is too far out of town……

The girls dropped us off at the Ghan station. They have been the best travelling companions and we are looking forward to seeing them again in Sydney. We joined the gathering passengers for the train. Things were much more organised here than in Darwin and are steed luggage was whisked away. The train sat large in the sunshine awaiting its cargo of travellers. The sculpture of the afghan camel driver watched over the activity with one eye constantly on the horizon……

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Having boarded the train and finding our Car Assistant cane from Sheffield we dashed off to lunch. One of our table partners proved particularly dour which made the meal quite hard wok conversationally, although very good from a food perspective. One positive outcome from the experience was that that we now know a lot more about opals – useful in that it is my birthstone and I have a birthday coming up……..

The train was not exactly thundering through the afternoon. In fact it was moving very slowly indeed – to the extent that by early evening we were running 1.5 hours late! We had whiled away the time trying to recognise the De Rose estate where we had stayed as vast swathes of the outback trundled past. We failed! It all looked very similar.

The train was not exactly thundering through the afternoon. In fact it was moving very slowly indeed – to the extent that by early evening we were running 1.5 hours late! We had whiled away the time trying to recognise the De Rose estate where we had stayed as vast swathes of the outback trundled past. We failed! It all looked very similar………

luckily for us we had different dining companions in the evening and had a jolly meal, but it was not long before I was tucked up in my top bunk and it was time for bed.  Given that the train was so behind in its travelling schedule it was quite a noisy night as we hurtled through the Australian outback as the train made up for its lost time.  The gentle rocking of the first leg of our Ghan experienced was superceded by something more like a shaking – not exactly conducive to a good nights sleep!

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