Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Ghan - views from the window

Not all people understand why I love to travel by train. It's quite simple. I find that I really enjoy looking out  the window watching the world go by. It's even better when I am sitting by myself in a sleeper compartment totally undisturbed by any other person.

All of the following photos were taken through train windows so they may sometimes not be very clear or you may notice reflections. In addition, the train could get up to about 60 miles per hour (100 kph) so some may be blurred at the bottom. I have cropped a lot of photos to remove the really blurry bits.

 The Adelaide River, I think. It would be terrific if there was a screen that showed your position on the map at all times. Perhaps they have them in Platinum class.

The train line comes quite close to the main road south on a number of occasions.

 If you click on the picture you can see small globs. I wondered what they were and they turned out to be Paddy Melons which grow in patches beside the track. They are treated as a weed in Oz.

 Most of the power poles in the outback are made of steel and concrete. Wooden poles would be eaten by the ants.

In the northern areas there was still quite a bit of water about. Every mile of so there was a pit where dirt must have been bulldozed out to build the foundation for the track. Often the pits were dry, but sometimes there was water in them.

A few years ago the vegetation in the following slides would have been much more sparse. Good rains in the past couple of years have resulted in comparatively lush vegetation. However you can still see the remains of dead trees that died during the long drought.

 An old diesel engine.

 The shape of this hill reminded me of  a similarly shaped hill at Beechmont.

There was much more variety in the scenery than I ever expected. I talked to one woman from England who remarked that she found the landscape all the same and boring. I thought about how to respond and then came up with this idea.

It's a bit like watching the ocean waves roll in. If you look at the ocean in general, it gets boring quickly. If you concentrate on one wave however, you notice that it is different from the others and therefore becomes more interesting. It's the same with this landscape. You pick out an interesting object, bush or tree and follow it for a few seconds. Then it's gone to be replaced by something else. Very soon you realize that there is incredible variety out here.

Mango trees north of Katherine. Growing mangoes has become a big industry in the area with large plantations. The area is far enough north to get the summer monsoon rains so apparently mangoes grow very well here.

 What looks to be corn or something similar. Irrigated too.
 The Katherine River. A few miles east is the huge Katherine Gorge.
 A deserted stockyard.
 Katherine was one of two sites where they built the concrete sleepers for the line.

The golden glow of the strong late afternoon sun really lights up the landscape. This photo only does partial justice to the light.
 Sunrise with moon just south of Tennant Creek. The train gets to Tennant Creek about 1am and then hangs around for almost five hours before it heads off again. I don't know why.

 There were quite a few 'burning off' fires alongside the track. Controlled fires are lit to reduce the level of combustibles so that when the inevitable bush fires start in the heat of summer, they can be more easily controlled. Most of the summer bush fires are caused by lightning.

 What I found interesting was the continuing change in height of the low scrub. One moment it would be one height. Turn away for a few seconds and then it would be quite a different height.

 Rugged landscape.
 A common site in the outback.

 A dry road just north of Alice Springs. In fact an access road used when building the line is a constant presence beside the line. It doesn't show in the photos because it is just a blur and I crop most of the photos to remove the blurred bottom of the photo.

 Just north of Alice Springs. There will be another blog for The Alice.
 Just south of Alice Springs as the train passes through a gap in the MacDonnell Ranges.

 The blue sky really is a deep blue.

 The results of more burning off.

 The dirt is a deep red colour. They don't call it the Red Centre for nothing. In fact most of Australian dirt is red.
 Because of the vast distances, most communication is via microwave. However the new NBN Network calls for fiber optic cable to link up most of Australia.

 The Finke River. The tour guides call it the oldest in the world but the Wikipedia article points out that there are other rivers in the region that have to be just as old. Yes, the river is dry.

 The Iron Man monument marking the laying of the millionth sleeper.

There is not a lot of animals to be seen out there. Eventually we came to an area where there were beef cattle herds. Occasionally there were flocks of galahs and the occasional kangaroo .

 Shortly after dawn on day three, just north of Port Augusta.

 Sunrise through a low fog. Why is the fog there, well Port Augusta is at the top of Spencer Gulf so we have almost reached the coastline.

 I was intrigued by the old line to the top of the picture. South Australia was unique in having three railway gauges in its network. Standard, broad and narrow. I wondered it this was an old 3'6" narrow gauge since it looked narrower than the other track in the photo.

 It had just finished raining in Port Augusta.
 The road bridge to the west. If you drive to Perth, you cross this bridge.

The deserted train station at Port Augusta.

 Work shops at Port Augusta which was a major railway junction.

 The top of Spencer Gulf.

 The Flinders Ranges north of Adelaide.

 A dappled landscape and sky.

 You might notice the three rails to allow trains for broad gauge to use the outer rail and the trains for standard gauge to us the inner rail.
 Hopefully if you click on the photo you can see what happens at a junction with this three rail system.

The final bridge over the Torrens River in Adelaide.

If you scroll quickly though this blog you will see that there is a lot of variety of scenery during this journey. I thoroughly enjoyed it and highly recommend the trip.

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