A freelance writer and traveller who likes to explore the spiritual, literary and hidden gems of Adelaide and beyond.
Published October 30th 2017
Finding out about the joys of train travel
Train travel has been gaining a resurgence in popularity. This may be due to TV programs such as Great Continental and British Railway Journeys. What is clear is that train travel is a most relaxing way to travel.
Australia with its vast distances has many options for long distance train travel. One of the most accessible and surprisingly economic is the Overland Rail Journey, travelling between Adelaide and Melbourne and the return journey. This journey used to be an overnight occasion but now only runs during the day.
I was lured into travelling via rail by a friend who wanted a long weekend away. Booking is via website or phone.
The journey takes approximately ten hours, with check-in time an hour before departure. The station lounge was clean and well appointed, with a café available to say farewells before departure. Keswick station also has easy free Wi-Fi, however, the shop remained closed, so there would be no last-minute purchases of newspapers or magazines.
On arrival at 6.30am, the sky was inky black as we were up before the dawn. As one of the first to arrive, there was plenty of time to check in bags. Once the signal was given to board the train we were greeted on arrival to the carriage and before long we were coasting through the Adelaide Hills in the morning light. Soft rain fell on our windows as we glided through the bush eucalypts, but the koalas were hiding.
It wasn't long before we received our orientation to the train journey and a menu selection was made for the day. Breakfast is served in your seat and I opted for the hot brekkie which was hot and moreish. The yoghurt option looked very cute and was well received. The Overland has a café carriage which serves snacks and meals, plus sells all manner of train souvenirs, including a musical stubbie holder.
The train goes at a fair clip which is not noticeable until a person stands and tries to walk. Be advised that this can take a little while to acclimatise to. Train announcements pop-up throughout the day about the surrounding areas. Train travellers are not permitted off the train at any time unless disembarking at a station. The first stop was Murray Bridge before the countryside of Keith comes into view.
I took the time to read a few editions of the in-house train magazine 'Platform', which featured an article on a train employee who happened to be on board. It also had book and film reviews pertaining to anything related to railways. Nhill was the next port of call. A huge silo could be seen which was cited as one of the oldest of its kind.
Lunch was then served, again in our seat. Very tasty moussaka with a nice cup of tea. I decided I needed to investigate moussaka recipes on my return. The Overland train rumbled on as more eucalypts and grey grass glided by. I was then handed a fork and dessert arrived.
Dimboola appeared next and a huge mass of people were seen attending a funeral. There must surely have been all of Dimboola and more in attendance, but the story of who was being farewelled remains a mystery.
The old heritage station of Stawell came into view as scenes of the Grampians were seen in the distance. Often a scene was gone before I have even thought of taking a photo. Images in my mind consisted of a band of blue sky, a red freight train and the smoky grey grass. It was then time for afternoon tea and a vanilla slice – why not!
The journey winded towards the final stages as we past Aarat and as we were losing the daylight, Geelong's massive power stations appeared lit up like a brilliant Christmas light display.
The journey through Melbourne's west was at a slow pace as the Melbourne skyline and giant star wheel appeared. We arrived at Southern Cross station a little behind schedule due to a wait at a signal in West Melbourne. There is easy access to taxis and other transport and the huge metropolis of Melbourne awaits.