Friday, October 14, 2011

Mt Isa to Townsville - the Inlander

The train was waiting at the station and it was a relief to get out of the hot dry heat into the cool air-conditioned compartment. Once again I had the whole compartment to myself. One immediate disappointment was the streaks of dirt running down the window. Probably there had been some rain that had formed rivulets in the dust.

So we set off  on time heading south. The train only pulls about six carriages and so there is only one diesel. To avoid most of the hills between Mt Isa and Cloncurry, the train takes a V shaped route, heading south and then north. For this reason, the train takes over four hours for this part of the journey while the bus takes only a bit over an hour.

For the first few miles, it was bush on my side of the train but I noticed that there was an industrial area on the north side of the train for quite a few miles.

Then we were out into cattle country. Beef, not dairy.

To keep the train cool at Mt Isa station they had closed all the blinds and put the air-conditioning on very low. It got cold after a while and so I sat there wrapped in this blanket with over 90 degree heat just a few inches away outside the window. Eventually they increased the temperature inside.

The dirt is quite red around here.

Left over old concrete sleepers.

More old sleepers. There were lots of them in mounds like this.

The area was infested with termite mounds. After a while, I thought of them as red nuns because of their shape.
An old guards van at a tiny place called Malbon..

Eventually it became a little hillier as we came closer to Cloncurry.

The hills got bigger and bigger. Note the nuns in the foreground.

It's quite a spectacular few miles and the photos don't do it real justice. 

Cloncurry River bed. Evidently, this is where you go to do your wheelies.
Cloncurry station.
I wondered why this wagon should only go in one direction. Perhaps it helps in the automatic unloading.
We crossed over the road to Winton which I traveled on the bus the day before.
It started to get dark as we headed east across the plain.

The club car, empty at the time.

By dinner time I had worked out that the level of service on this train was not up to the standards of the other Queensland trains I had been on. The windows were dirty on the outside and there had been no helpful announcements. Now at dinner I discovered they had run out of the beef casserole. Having ordered the lamb I asked for a bottle of red wine and was told that they had drunk them all on the way out from Mt Isa. At least they hadn't run out of beer. The lamb was microwaved and though the lamb was fine, parts of it were cold.

For breafast, I ordered the fritata and again it was microwaved with the result that in the bottom of dish was a big pool of hot water. Somebody else ordered toast and was told that they had run out of the little packs of marmalade. The woman serving the food was apologetic, but this was distinctly unimpressive.

Next morning, it was difficult to take photos because the sun was shining on the dirty window.

The countryside and little towns are still interesting to watch.

Blurry photo of the Burdekin River. It's worth clicking on the link to read about this river which carries incredible amounts of water when it has rained a lot.
There are supposed to be safety sheets in the pocket on the door.

Mountains just south of Townsville.

Townsville station, where I was greeted by my friend David. This is a newish station that replaces the old station which was closer to the center of town.

Of all the trains I took, this was in some ways the most disappointing. The scenery was fine, the insides of the carriages were clean and the train was basically on time. However, the enthusiasm of the staff definitely did not match that shown on the other trains. And of course, there was the marmalade and red wine issue. I can understand running out of stuff on a plane where weight is critical, but on a train?

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