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Indian-Pacific

Monday, July 27th, 1998 | Australia 1998 | 30°37' S, 130°25' E
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Indian-Pacific

To get from Perth to Adelaide we took the train. Not just any old train, though – this is one of the great train journeys, taking nearly two days to cross the fearsomely empty expanse of the Nullarbor Plain. We rumbled out of East Perth station in the early afternoon, and until nightfall we wound our way through some fairly green countryside. At 11pm we arrived in Kalgoorlie, and in the morning we were deep into the desert. The line was a single track, and so the train would occasionally stop in the middle of nowhere to let something else pass. An announcement was made that getting off the train at any point like this would be a seriously bad idea. “If you get left behind”, said the announcer, “you will die.” It was strange to think that I was able to traverse such lethal terrain in a comfortable train.

On the second day we travelled along the longest straight stretch of track in the world, three hundred miles without a single bend. It was monotonous enough for me; I wondered how the drivers did it without going insane. I thought we might be able to get up some serious pace with no corners to worry about, but we continued on at the stately pace we’d been running the whole way. Over the whole trip we averaged just over 40 miles an hour; if there was a TGV line here, you could do the journey in about ten hours.

In the middle of the second night, we stopped at Port Augusta. I got off the train to stretch my legs, looked up and saw a bright meteor run right down the length of the Milky Way. Early the next morning we arrived in Adelaide.

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