Thursday, May 31, 2007

I've finally landed in the Outback and it's been a tremendous journey. I left Melbourne on Tuesday morning on the Overland train to Adelaide. It was a 12 hour ride. I noticed as I boarded the train that nearly everyone in the car was in their 60s and 70s, and I worried that I might at some point be asked to render some sort of assistance I might not know how to offer...such as CPR. There were only maybe 3-4 of us who were under 50. The 12 hour ride went relatively quickly considering the length of the journey. I'll tell you that 12 hours on a train beats 12 hours on a train any day. You only have the people in your own car to deal with which is not nearly as many as is on a plane, and you have more space and can move around easily. The woman next to me was old and very drunk by the end of the ride, and happy to keep asking me questions about my trip even though I had my headphones on.

The hostel I was staying at offered a free ride from the train station, but I didn't see anyone waiting after I'd gotten my luggage. I went inside to use the pay phone, but it was broken, so I had to figure out how to make an international call on my cell phone all to ring a place that was less than 5 minutes from where I was. They informed me someone had blocked their van in and to take the shuttle, but the shuttle had already left. She said to take a cab and I would be reimbursed. It was dark, cold and wet in Adelaide and I was already not off to a good start.

While standing in line for a non-existant taxi, a young guy behind me who I recognized as being one of the other unrder-50s on the train asked if my hostel had not picked me up either. As it turned out, we were staying at the same place, and he would also be joining me on the Ghan the next day. His name is Matthew and he's a 24 year old from Newcastle, England who is in Oz working on his PhD for the year. He's on vacation and traveling on his own, as well. He's a good kid and has his head on straight, unlike all of the young, drunk brits I have seen all over Australia.

We shared a cab to the hostel and got booked into our rooms. We took a walk into town which was not very impressive. Aside from being dark, wet and cold, we had some kids yell things at us from their cars, saw several drunk Aboriginees, and couldn't find a decent place to eat. We were both happy to not be spending more than 24 hours in Adelaide. This was my first stay in a hostel, and though I had my own ensuite room, may of the other travelers stayed in tradional dorm rooms which are much cheaper. I'm just not up to it, being in my mid-30s. My room was clean enough but COLD and with no heater. I was exhausted from the train ride, and was happy to find that the loud music that had been playing when I arrived was turned off when I got back from dinner. After putting on flannel pants and socks, a long sleeve AND short sleeve shirt, a sweatshirt and a beanie on my head, I was ready for bed. It was so cold, but quiet enough, and I got a decent nights sleep.

The next morning, I went to look at Adelaide again but found it no more impressive in the daylight. I found a place where I could get some sandwiches for the train, and at 11:30, we headed off for the train station. I knew our trip on the Ghan to Alice Springs was overnight, but for some reason, I thought it was only 12 hours. Not so - it was actually 25. And not all quiet senior citizens this time, but several children who ran up and down the aisles yelling, and two babies who cried nearly the entire night. It was horrible, but Matthew and I, who had gotten seats together for the trip, were happy to arrive in Alice Springs finally around 2 this afternoon. It's nice to have met someone to travel with a bit - it made the train ride go so much faster with someone to talk to. We're also staying at the same place in Alice Springs, and are driving out to see Ayers Rock together tomorrow. Cross your fingers - this will be my first chance driving on the wrong side of the road. I'm hoping not to hit a kangaroo or something worse.

I don't have any pictures of anything for the time being, as there was absolutely nothing to take photos of in Adelaide or in Port Augusta where we stopped briefly. Alice Springs is not much to speak of, either, but at least it has character. I notice there is a lot of work available here. The hostel itself is looking for three people and you can stay there for free. I imagine that's pretty attractive for backpackers touring the world, looking for a way to make a dollar so they can travel even further. At any rate, I will post some photos after my visit to Ayers, or Uluru as they call it now (pronounced ooh-loo-roo). Hopefully, they will not be pictures of my car wreck, or of Matthew and I being chased by natives.


Blogger Kelly J. Compeau said...

I once knew some folks from Adelaide. Your assessment is correct. Not much to the place, nothing worth taking pictures of. It's kinda like Pittsburgh in the states, or Cornwall, up here in Ontario.

Kiss Uluru for me (hopefully a clean spot).

10:39 AM  
Blogger LA said...

Yikes! You're definitely having a big adventure. I cannot imagine 25 hours on a train, but I'm glad you made a friend to spend the time with.

Can't wait to hear about your next stop.

11:16 PM  
Anonymous moby said...

Be sure to bring home some of that red sand I've been reading about.

4:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a trainride! Adelaide sounds horrible, but I'm glad you met someone to share it with. I hope the trip tomorrow makes up for the challenging travels of the last couple of days.

Driving on the left ought to be a challenge!

-DP (remember me?)

9:54 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

I once knew a man from Adelaide who came to the States to attend college for a year . . . he was a total dick, but surprisingly, later told a mutual friend that one of his fondest memories of CA was how nice I was to him . . . my fondest memory is of him leaving the country

6:11 PM  

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