"I've always found the journey far more interesting than the destination and so the idea of travelling coast-to-coast in style across the Australian continent was too intriguing to resist. There was a sense of anticipation on the platform at Perth's East Terminal and as soon as I boarded I felt a sense of Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express - I would not have batted an eyelid had I passed Hercule Poirot on the way to my cabin!
I was glued to my large cabin window as the train slowly pulled away from the station - all 36 carriages - leaving behind the Perth suburbs and heading out across the vast expanse of Western Australia. I had a double Gold Service cabin to myself with en-suite and I felt very cosy and self contained - my sofa was turned down into my bed while I was at dinner every evening, and back to a sofa while I was at breakfast.
Tucked up in my bed every night it seemed to me that the train had speeded up and it rocked and creaked as it hurtled along the tracks and I eventually rocked me to sleep. The all-inclusive food, wines and service were to an excellent standard and between enjoying breakfast, lunch and dinner, the days comprised of reading, dozing, listening to music, dipping in and out of messages from home, while watching the evolving landscape roll by.
Very much a part of the experience was socialising with fellow travellers, mainly (but not all) middle-aged or retirement age couples, members of the SKI club (i.e. "Spending the Kids' Inheritance) peppered with people travelling alone, like me. After blissful solitude in my cabin, drinks before lunch and dinner and eating in the restaurant were pleasantly sociable occasions; I could choose what time I wanted to eat and the restaurant manager would seat me in tables of four so over the course of the journey I met lots of different people, all with interesting stories to tell.
Due to electrical storms we unfortunately missed breakfast on the siding at Rawlinna and the visit to the goldmine at Kalgoorlie but as these were always minor distractions for me, it didn't detract from the pleasure of the journey as we were still able to get off the train and soak up the atmosphere of these far flung places.
We were told to watch out for wild emus between Adelaide and Sydney and I was excited to spot a few - unfortunately my blurred photos do not do justice to the thrill of seeing these creatures in the wild!
The duration of the journey on board the Indian-Pacific (four days) was an optimal time frame in which to wind down and relish all the experience had to offer without it beginning to pale - it was a hugely relaxing and self indulgent way of travelling 4,000 miles. Leaving the train at Central Station, Sydney, I felt a little sad that the experience was over and highly envious of the passengers starting to assemble for the return journey to Perth. But then I felt the vibrancy of Sydney, glimpsed the iconic Opera House in Sydney Harbour and knew the next stage of my Australia adventure was about to begin....."
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