Do Quokkas Go Out in the Rain?

Come with me on a train ride. We’ll travel 4,352 kilometres across Australia from east to west, spending four days and three nights on a train 731 metres long. We’ll start in Sydney and stay in Perth at the end and along the way we’ll traverse deserts, stop in a ghost town and cross the mighty Nullarbor Plain. Come with me on a transcontinental journey aboard the iconic Indian Pacific! 

Indian Pacific Adventure #15 Rottnest Island

In 1696, Dutch sea captain Willem de Vlamingh landed on a small island off the coast of Western Australia. The only residents he found were furry animals he mistook for giant rats so he named the island ‘t Eylandt ‘t Rottenest (The Rats’ Nest Island). de Vlamingh described the island as “pleasurable above all islands” and “a paradise on earth”. He must have had better weather than we did – we went to Rottnest in the pouring rain!

Our day trip to Rottnest Island had been pre-booked as part of our holiday package so we had to go that day. We just hoped that the island’s famous residents, the quokkas Willem de Vlamingh thought were rats, didn’t mind the weather.

Our first activity was a minibus tour around the island. Although the scenery was beautiful, the rain meant we didn’t stay long off the bus. And, even though the driver kept a lookout along the way, we saw no quokkas.

After our soggy bus ride we walked to the shopping area at the Thomson Bay Settlement and, to our delight, there were quokkas everywhere! It’s forbidden to approach, feed or touch these native Australian marsupials but they’re used to people and were happy to pose for photos.

Even though their thick fur looked quite bedraggled, they seemed oblivious to the rain.

By mid-afternoon the downpour had cleared, so we explored the settlement. No one lives permanently on the island and most of the historic buildings are now used for holiday accommodation.

We even went for a short walk on the beach.

The quokkas enjoyed the break in the weather too.

Joining Becky for November Walking Squares

The Changing Landscape

Come with me on a train ride. We’ll travel 4,352 kilometres across Australia from east to west, spending four days and three nights on a train 731 metres long. We’ll start in Sydney and stay in Perth at the end and along the way we’ll traverse deserts, stop in a ghost town and cross the mighty Nullarbor Plain. Come with me on a transcontinental journey aboard the iconic Indian Pacific! 

Indian Pacific Adventure #14 Kalgoorlie to Perth

On the last day of our train journey we travelled through a constantly changing landscape. The vast Nullarbor, whose name means “no trees”, had been replaced by arid desert covered with saltbush and low growing bushland.

Then we began to see signs of civilisation:

powerlines,

construction,

and the incredible pipeline which carries a vital supply of water for 556 km from Perth to Kalgoorlie-Boulder.

We passed the pretty town of Northam,

fields of golden canola,

and finally the rolling green hills and farmland east of Perth.

After four days and three nights, our adventure on the Indian Pacific came to an end as the train pulled in to East Perth Terminal.

Once we left the train, we farewelled the staff, thanking them for their excellent service. After reclaiming our luggage we made our way to the bus which would transfer us to our Perth hotel.

I was too busy walking to the bus to take final photos of the train which had brought us right across Australia!

Joining Becky for November Walking Squares

By the Light of the Moon

Come with me on a train ride. We’ll travel 4,352 kilometres across Australia from east to west, spending four days and three nights on a train 731 metres long. We’ll start in Sydney and stay in Perth at the end and along the way we’ll traverse deserts, stop in a ghost town and cross the mighty Nullarbor Plain. Come with me on a transcontinental journey aboard the iconic Indian Pacific! 

Indian Pacific Adventure #13 Rawlinna, Western Australia

After stopping at Cook in the morning, the train continued west until we crossed the border into Western Australia.

The setting sun cast a golden glow across the vast expanse of the Nullarbor Plain, signalling the start of our third night aboard the Indian Pacific.

Our next stop was Rawlinna, another small town founded in 1917 to service the railway. Unlike Cook, 34 people still live in Rawlinna. The train is a welcome visitor, bringing mail and vital supplies each week.

A line of lanterns guided us on the long walk from our carriage at the front of the train to the platform.

In the warmer months of the year, passengers are treated to an outdoor dinner on the platform. But on this cold winter’s night we gathered around raised campfires.

The train’s resident entertainer serenaded us with live music while the bar staff served drinks.

Music at a railway station in the desert, backlit by a full moon – a special way to end another day on the train.

Joining Becky for November Walking Squares

Ghost Town

Come with me on a train ride. We’ll travel 4,352 kilometres across Australia from east to west, spending four days and three nights on a train 731 metres long. We’ll start in Sydney and stay in Perth at the end and along the way we’ll traverse deserts, stop in a ghost town and cross the mighty Nullarbor Plain. Come with me on a transcontinental journey aboard the iconic Indian Pacific! 

Indian Pacific Adventure #12 Cook, Nullarbor Plain

It’s hard to believe the derelict town of Cook, named after Joseph Cook, the sixth Prime Minister of Australia, was once home to 200 people. Founded to support the Trans Australian Railway in the early 1900s, the town was a thriving settlement housing maintenance crews and their families. When the railway was privatised in 1997 the people departed, leaving the buildings abandoned to the elements.

With just 30 minutes to explore the remains of the town, everyone was quickly off the train. The buildings are now deemed unsafe so we could only look from the outside.

The swimming pool, a popular place in the extreme heat of summer, hadn’t been used in a very long time.

The discomfort of these corrugated iron jail cells must have been a deterrent against misbehaviour.

Even the ramshackle outdoor amenities would have been uninviting.

But despite the harshness of their surroundings, the people of Cook obviously had a sense of humour!

Joining Becky for November Walking Squares

The Middle of Nowhere

Come with me on a train ride. We’ll travel 4,352 kilometres across Australia from east to west, spending four days and three nights on a train 731 metres long. We’ll start in Sydney and stay in Perth at the end and along the way we’ll traverse deserts, stop in a ghost town and cross the mighty Nullarbor Plain. Come with me on a transcontinental journey aboard the iconic Indian Pacific! 

Indian Pacific Adventure #11 Cook, Nullarbor Plain

Welcome to Cook, a ghost town located on the longest straight stretch of railway track in the world.

This information sign, weathered by the harsh conditions of the desert, tells more about the town and the railway track.

Welcome to Cook, the Queen City of the Nullarbor, postcode 5710, population four.

You are standing alongside the longest stretch of straight railway in the world, spanning 478 kms. According to Australian astronaut Andy Thomas, the rail line can even be spotted from space, looking like a very fine pencil line across the desert. 

You are on the western extreme of South Australia on the edge of the Nullarbor Plain, a barren desert plateau twice the size of England. The nearest major town Ceduna is approximately a five hour drive away and the closest major sealed road, the Eyre Highway, is an hour’s drive away. How remote are you?

Adelaide-1188 km            Perth-1523 km

Port Augusta-826 km       Sydney-1984 km

Kalgoorlie-854 km           Darwin-2017 km 

It would be a long way to walk to anywhere from the Middle of Nowhere!

Joining Becky for November Walking Squares

Dessert!

Come with me on a train ride. We’ll travel 4,352 kilometres across Australia from east to west, spending four days and three nights on a train 731 metres long. We’ll start in Sydney and stay in Perth at the end and along the way we’ll traverse deserts, stop in a ghost town and cross the mighty Nullarbor Plain. Come with me on a transcontinental journey aboard the iconic Indian Pacific! 

Indian Pacific Adventure #10 Queen Adelaide Restaurant, Indian Pacific

I’ve been asked more than once what was the highlight of our trip on the Indian Pacific. I could say the amazing scenery or the off-train excursions, and that would be true. But in reality, one of the best things about the journey was the food.

We were served the most delicious meals using beautiful local produce and all freshly prepared on board the train as we travelled. Every course of every meal was fabulous, especially the desserts.

I had dessert for breakfast:

Mango and ricotta hotcake with mascarpone and native blossom honey syrup

I had dessert for lunch.

Triple chocolate brownie with blood orange gelati

Chocolate caramel macadamia tart

And I had dessert for dinner.

Ginger and pear pudding with vanilla bean and macadamia ice cream and ginger sauce

Banoffee pie with vanilla bean ice cream and fresh blueberries

It’s lucky we walked 55 km while we were in Sydney and 45 km in Perth, because the only exercise I got on the train was walking to and from the restaurant!

Join Becky, who’s doing far more walking than I did on the train, for November Walking Squares

Isolation

Come with me on a train ride. We’ll travel 4,352 kilometres across Australia from east to west, spending four days and three nights on a train 731 metres long. We’ll start in Sydney and stay in Perth at the end and along the way we’ll traverse deserts, stop in a ghost town and cross the mighty Nullarbor Plain. Come with me on a transcontinental journey aboard the iconic Indian Pacific! 

Indian Pacific Adventure #9 South Australia

As the train travelled west we sat for hours, either in our cabin or in the Outback Explorer Lounge with our fellow travellers, looking out the windows at the landscape.

Occasionally we would pass a tiny settlement in the middle of nowhere. We could only guess at their purpose – probably accommodation for railway, electricity or communications maintenance crews.

It’s hard to imagine what it would be like to live in such isolation.

Creatures From the Past

Come with me on a train ride. We’ll travel 4,352 kilometres across Australia from east to west, spending four days and three nights on a train 731 metres long. We’ll start in Sydney and stay in Perth at the end and along the way we’ll traverse deserts, stop in a ghost town and cross the mighty Nullarbor Plain. Come with me on a transcontinental journey aboard the iconic Indian Pacific! 

Indian Pacific Adventure #8 Adelaide 

In Adelaide, our off-train excursion took us to the South Australian Museum, to see their extensive collection of fossils.

We learned about creatures which lived on earth in prehistoric times, including strange marine creatures from the Cretaceous Period;

fierce dinosaurs like this Allosaurus atrox;

and giant megafauna whose descendants still live in Australia.

Today’s kangaroos and koalas are cute but I wouldn’t like to meet one of these creatures on a bush walk.

Joining Becky for November Walking Squares

Platform Walking

Come with me on a train ride. We’ll travel 4,352 kilometres across Australia from east to west, spending four days and three nights on a train 731 metres long. We’ll start in Sydney and stay in Perth at the end and along the way we’ll traverse deserts, stop in a ghost town and cross the mighty Nullarbor Plain. Come with me on a transcontinental journey aboard the iconic Indian Pacific! 

Indian Pacific Adventure #7 Broken Hill

After travelling westwards through the night we woke to a glorious sunrise. We’d crossed almost all of New South Wales while we slept and were heading towards Broken Hill.

Soon the mullock heaps of the famous mining town came into view. Our itinerary included a morning stop in Broken Hill with a visit to the Art Gallery, but the delay the previous day meant we could only stop for half an hour.

We’ve been to Broken Hill before so the change of plan wasn’t too disappointing. When the train pulled into the platform, all the passengers alighted for a chance to stretch their legs.

At 8 o’clock on a winter’s morning, the air was crisp and icy cold so our platform walk was brisk. We took a few quick photos and quickly went back on board.

The train was soon underway again and we passed the Miners’ Memorial on our way out of town. Our journey continued west across the vast desert plain towards the South Australian border.

Joining Becky for November Walking Squares

All Aboard!

Come with me on a train ride. We’ll travel 4,352 kilometres across Australia from east to west, spending four days and three nights on a train 731 metres long. We’ll start in Sydney and stay in Perth at the end and along the way we’ll traverse deserts, stop in a ghost town and cross the mighty Nullarbor Plain. Come with me on a transcontinental journey aboard the iconic Indian Pacific! 

Indian Pacific Adventure #6 On The Train

What do you do when the train can’t come to you? You go to the train on a bus of course!

The start of our journey on the Indian Pacific didn’t go according to plan. After torrential rain the week before, a massive land slip in the Blue Mountains closed the train line into Sydney. So instead of departing Central Station aboard the iconic train, we left in a convoy of buses.

Our disappointment at the change was short lived – the silver lining was that our route out of the city took us over the Harbour Bridge. We’ve never done that before!

During a short stop in Katoomba we enjoyed a beautiful winter sunset over the Blue Mountains. Finally we reached the train, which was waiting for us at Lithgow.

It wasn’t long before we were all aboard and ready for the adventure to begin.