Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Overland - Adelaide to Melbourne

The next leg of the journey was from Adelaide to Melbourne using a train called The Overland. More info about the history of the train from Wikipedia is here.

 My brother-in-law kindly drove me to the station in Keswick which is where the Ghan and Indian Pacific also arrive and depart.
You may notice that the shadows are very dark in the strong sun in Oz.
 Passengers lined up to board in second class. The first carriage behind the engine is empty and reserved for passengers getting on in Victoria.
 Inside the second class carriages.
Unfortunately I did not have a window seat. However the seats are quite comfortable and the bloke sitting next to me did not get up from his seat the entire journey.
 The train set off on time and immediately started to climb up the hills that make up the Mt Lofty Range.

 This is prime bush fire country in the heat of summer. Temperatures can go up to 115 degrees (45 c) and if there is a strong wind then bushfires can be severe. Adelaide has not had bad bushfires for several decades and is probably overdue.

 There are quite a few wealthy suburbs up in the hills and many people use the local trains to get to the inner city.
 The cafe, empty at this stage. Five minutes later, a group of older women arrived and the noise level raised dramatically. The voices of some Aussie women can be quite piercing and this group had some prime examples. Still, they were having fun which is what counts.

 During the course of the journey we passed quite a few freight trains. I was intrigued by some of the container carrier wagons that had special sides that enclosed the lower sides of the containers.
 Mt Lofty station and the highest point on the trip.

 The countryside in the hills is really very beautiful and some of the prettiest in the country. However, there always will be that summertime threat of fire.

 Vineyards. Grapes are grown throughout the area and the wine is usually good to excellent.

 As the train heads further east, the country becomes drier.

 Canola. At times I thought the canola fields would extend all the way from Adelaide to Melbourne.
 Some sort of man made mountain. I wondered if it was a rubbish tip.

 Eventually we came to the Murray River which along with the Darling River provides the main inland drainage for the east part of Australia. Most of Australia suffered from a ten year drought that ended only a couple of years ago. The volume of water coming down the river became so low that the large lake where the river enters the ocean became almost dry. Thankfully the drought broke and Lake Alexandrina was saved.

 The name of the town is also Murray River and it is a popular site for houseboats.

 As we approach the border between Victoria and South Australia, the country become much drier.
 Water supply pipeline.

 The kitchen area for the cafe.
 An interesting way to store roll around luggage.

 Bordertown. One of Australia's most famous Prime Ministers, Bob Hawke, was born here.
 Silos for storing grain. 
 When the train starts off there is announcement about using the toilet. It is necessary to press the 'lock' button after you have entered the toilet. If you don't then someone can come along and open the door catching you in an embarrassing position. It's really a poor design since apparently some poor soul is caught with their pants down nearly every journey.

 Not a bad design toilet otherwise with plenty of room, presumably to accommodate wheel chairs. However it was not kept quite as clean as the toilets on the Ghan.

 More canola alternating with what I presume was a field of wheat. I presume they rotate the crops each year.
 When you have so much grain you store it by building a small hill and covert it with plastic.
 It must have rained recently and there was water beside the track. Compared to the usual dry conditions of drought, the countryside is incredibly lush.

 Flowers scattered by the railway line. They were very bright in the strong sun.

 One of those dirt roads that go off into the bush somewhere. 

 More grain storage. The crane gives you some idea of the size of one of these grain hills.
 The southern parts of Australia essentially have a Mediterranean climate so olive trees do very well. 
 I was intrigued by this hedge with black looking berries at the Dimboola station.
 Most of these country towns had marshaling yards that were no longer needed. Hence the bridge over nothing.

 Somehow it looks like green rectangles that have been laid down. I have no idea why.
 Old house made of wood. years ago, the temperature inside would have been much the same as the temperature outside. In this part of the country, that means well below freezing to well above 100 (37) so you may notice the heat pump on the front verandah.

 The range of mountains known as the Grampians. It's a popular hiking, climbing and camping area.

 An old luggage carrier that were quite common when I was a kid but you don't see many of these old ones about any more.
 One of the modern Victoria VLine trains.

 We are now in sheep country.

 When you fly from Adelaide to Melbourne, you notice that there are quite a lot of these extinct volcanoes scattered all over the place.

 More canola. They make marvelous patterns at times.
 Gullies like this are quite common in this part of Victoria. Nearer Melbourne they get quite large.

 Rocky ground. Back in convict times, the convicts were used to build fences using stones like these.
 The ideal window to have for taking photos is one where the sun does not shine on it. On this train, I had an aisle seat on the sunny side so to take these photos, I stood at this door window on the south shady side.

 Some of the bigger gardens in the late afternoon sun.

 The outskirts of Geelong. The original Overland did not come down here but instead went via Ballarat. The story behind the change is here.

Geelong is an industrial port city and the train goes past most of the industrial area. 
The red brick building was the distillery for Corio Whisky, the most famous of Australian made whiskeys of years ago. I can't say I ever tasted it so I can't give you an opinion. It closed years ago.
The Shell refinery in the late afternoon sun. A few minutes later, it was dark.

It's a pretty trip by train and quite a comfortable journey. The scenery is not as different and dramatic as the view from the Ghan but there is plenty of variety.

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