It was an early start as we were arriving in Adelaide where the train crews change and some passengers leave the train. Another excursion was on offer and we opted for a walk around the city – as much as anything we needed to stretch our legs.
It was not a very long walk, but we saw a bit more of Adelaide than we had seen before. We set out at 7.30 and we started our walk just as the rush hour was taking off. One felt a little conscious of interrupting the flow! We saw the Governors House, built very soon after the first settlers arrived in Adelaide in 1836, after forming the South Australia Company in England and buying land in 1834. There were several other notable buildings, including the famous Adelaide Oval cricket ground over the trees and the Cathedral. A point of interest is that the current Governor arrived as a Vietnamese boat person not so very long ago.
There is a feeling of vibrancy. A very modern Convention Centre and a new hospital have just been completed, but there are lots of parks and green places. Australia does seem to love its commemorative plaques and there were notable people from all walks of life with little squares on the pavement. It was good to see two bronze statues of women – one who got women the vote 20 years before the UK
There was also a rather dashing statue of Matthew Flinders the first English person to circumnavigate Australia.
We then turned the corner to see the huge WW1 War Memorial. Inside, all 5,000 Australians, who lost their lives in the war are listed. What a massive blow to an emerging nation to lose so many of its young people. What a hideous thing war is and we seem to have learnt nothing. We are nearing the time for Anzac Day here. It is obviously a big thing and universally acknowledged. I wonder if we give the same level of recognition to these things in England. I don’t think we do………
It was interesting to learn that the creator of this amazing edifice was German. There is a walk down from the memorial giving all the locations where Australians were involved in battles. A sobering reminder.
The next building of note was that of the Destitute Asylum. Migrant groups have been arriving in Australia throughout its existence. This is where those who had nowhere else to go were accommodated. Apparently the place used to be much bigger. What remains is the ‘lying in’ ward where many a young Irish girl found herself, having travelled to Adelaide looking for work as a servant, found themselves without any in the down turn in the economy in the late 19th and early 20th century. Pregnant and destitute, they had their babies in the Asylum and their children were sent to the orphanage on the other side of town. 1800 children are known to have met this fate. A chilling place with overtones of the Cascades Women’s prison in Hobart.
We wandered back to the river where they were dismantling the recent Adelaide Festival. On the river was a rather jolly installation called ‘Talking My Way Home’ which comprised origami looking boats with writing all over them …… I thought they were really fun and the cormorants obviously liked them too! We also saw some black swans……
We had breakfast by the river, complete with Buck’s Fizz. This is definitely the journey that gives and gives!!
We boarded the train again by 9.00 am. It took some time to get out of the city but an hour or so later we were back out in the desert and heading for Broken Hill our next stop.
Over lunch we saw three eagles and a hawk from the window of the dining car. They were wheeling over a harvested field. It was all a bit weird because after passing several more isolated communities, the train suddenly changed direction to heading north west and we were facing forward in our compartment. For the first time I saw rubbish by the track. Someone had dumped some white goods by the side of the line. They sat rusting in the sunshine. Very much a blot on the landscape. Muddy water holes, sandy coloured hills in the distance came and went. We had been told to look for wild life again. I saw an emu! Tara!!
Then we were back to flat desert lands again, with the the occasional line of fencing in various stages of repair and an old water tank.
Late afternoon we arrived at Broken Hill. Broken Hill’s notoriety comes from it being on the progress of Priscilla Queen of the Desert. It’s main industry is the mining of silver, lead and zinc. There has been miming here for 133 years and over those years 2000 different minerals have been found. In the height of its popularity as a place to live in the 50’s and 60 ‘s 37,000 people lived there. Now the number is much lower. It now also has a solar farm with 677,000 solar panels on it.
It is a strongly unionised town. Historically very male orientated. An unlikely venue for a Drag Show – but it was a drag show to which we were taken! It was quite bizarre. 100 people from the Indian Pacific train – most of them of the silver haired variety – being taken to a pub to watch a drag show. The building itself was covered in murals of the Australian outback……..???
I think most of the repartee went over the head of the audience!!
Luckily it did not last long (!) and although we had been taken there by coach – the train was only up the road so we took the opportunity to walk back. It also gave us the opportunity to view the buildings in the main street which must have been quite impressive in their day!
We all sort of scurried back to our metal home, slightly relieved it was over I think. However it was a lovely sunny evening and the train glowed in the light!
It was Aileen’s birthday and our last supper on the train. We had a great night! The wine flowed. Indian Pacific came up with a nice gift for Aileeen and post dinner a small but beautifully formed group adjourned to the bar.. ……
I have to say that climbing my ladder to bed proved somewhat challenging!