Adelaide – Broken Hill – Sydney

Tuesday early morning five weeks ago we headed back to the city centre and dropped off the car. After the farewell at the central railway station, I took a commuter train for two stations until the Adelaide Showground station and walked for about 10 min to the Adelaide parkland terminal, where I could directly check-in to the Indian Pacific train. I mean checking in for me meant getting a boarding pass in business card format 😏. After having an espresso…or two πŸ˜„, I was finally allowed to board the train for my final leg to Sydney. More or less on time we departed from Adelaide and rode all the way back to the north until Crystal Brook. The commuter trains only operate around Adelaide, but not 200km away. The cabin was the same style as the week before, and I guess the comfortable armchair was directed again against driving direction. Shortly after the turnoff into easterly direction the soil was getting barren. In the beginning there were still already harvested cornfields while after Peterborough one could see some cattle around. In the afternoon the Barrier highway followed the railway tracks (or vice versaπŸ€”) and eventually we crossed the border to New South Wales, when we were definitely back in the outback. Shortly after the border we stopped at Broken Hill. This is an old mining town, but only a few people really living here, most of the workers just fly in – fly out. So the town appears to be a bit extinct. Sure, we needed to do another off-train excursion. I hoped to get a close view to the newly built 55 MW solar farm, or at least a tour to the mine…but none of them was available. Instead we headed to an old hotel for a drag queen show…ok, let’s do that. In the end it only took 25 min…luckily, but we got some snacks and beer. As there was still plenty of time I choose to walk around the town and have a look at the partly old buildings. Mostly these were old hotels, but now converted to different utilisations. Just by accident I passed the old railway station from the old narrow gauge line to South Australia. Due to the former gauge break here, people not just need to change the trains here, but also need to walk across the town to get onto the other train. Luckily these days are gone since 50 years and people can travel in a row between Perth and Sydney in a single train without gauge breaks. From Broken Hill there are finally regular public trains across NSW and eventually to Sydney, but it’s not allowed to disembark the Indian Pacific here, and I wouldn’t minded to stay overnight here and just take a regular train. Anyways in the evening I needed to get back on the train. And again as we waisted our time for this off train excursion, the main travel distance is over night, and you don’t see anything from the landscape.

Wednesday five weeks ago I woke up early in the morning during dawn. The landscape changed completely. We were driving through green meadows with cows. The train is riding through several hills and is gaining altitude in large curves. So it’s just a lovely landscape I can follow out of the window for several hours. After breakfast we reach Lithgow the final destination of the electrified tracks from Sydney and the western end of the Blue mountains. Now the final ascent to the apex is infront of us. The old Zig Zag railway, which was used back in the beginning of this railway, is just in historic operation. Nowadays 10 tunnels are used to reach the apex at about 1,100 m above sea level. Then a long descent along a shoulder across the blue mountains followed. One could not only see the steep rocks and long valleys, but sometimes also a glimpse to the skyscrapers at the centre of Sydney were possible at this day, even if these were still about 100 km away. Once we came down the mountains the first suburbs of Sydney started and my journey began to end.

At about noon I arrived at Sydney Central Station, after 112 legs with mainly train, but also buses, ferries and one sailing vessel, from Adelaide with Amanda and Alina (the two sympathetic conductors). Within the last almost 19 months, I guess, I travelled about 60,000 km in total including all detours and excursions, whereas my main journey was about 40,000 km. The last two legs were more expensive than all 110 legs before. It’s even for me a bit hard to realise that I just took the train in Berlin back in April 2018…and now I’m here in Sydney. I was for sure not the first one, and if you want to do it faster just take a direct cargo vessel from China or Japan, as this couple did. Or if you really want to travel by fair means, take your bicycle for a two years ride from Europe to Sydney as this bloke did. That’s definitely an awesome ride, and it’s just impressive what he did.

Commuter train at Adelaide railway station
Ready for departure for the last leg to Sydney
The eagle symbolises the span from East Coast to West Coast
Passing cornfields on the way to the north
Turn off to Porta Augusta in Crystal Brook
Lovely landscape in South Australia
Doesn’t seem that there are any active passenger operations at this railway station
The barrier highway follows the railway tracks…
…and shortly before the border to NSW we’re definitely back in the outback
The large solar farm in Broken Hill with the white DC/AC inverters, and probably also transformers, on the white platforms
The crowd is waiting for the drag queens to arrive
Art ceiling 😏
The local technical University caged the last drop of water…smart guys they are
This old railway station served the former narrow gauge railway line to SA
The locomotive drivers are ready for departure in Broken Hill
Aisle of the Platinum suites, which have windows to both sides, but in the end you don’t want that anybody is looking into your suite from the aisle, so you close the curtain
Moon set during dawn…
…and green meadows with cows on it.
Always towards the sun
The train rides through several curves…
…and green landscape…
…steadily gaining altitude…
…at the western end of the Blue Mountains.
That’s the mountain edge of the former zig zag line, to gain the final altitude for the apex
Interesting design for the pole of the electricity supply of the track
Stunning view to the blue mountains without any smoke, even as the bushfires were close at this day
Even got already a glimpse to Sydney CBD during the descent from the Blue mountains
I finally made it!
From Berlin…
…to Sydney by train!
Modern commuter train in Sydney…even with foldable backrests
Finally arrived at the northern beaches…what a different world here in the south-east of Australia
Bruce, the partner of my aunt, loves German beer…so I got a fine selection welcome drink
My ticket for the commuter train and my boarding pass

Kangaroo Island Excursion (III)

Monday five weeks ago we headed early in the morning to the nearby Remarkable Rocks, before the tourist buses from the mass tourism approaching. It’s definitely a quite outstanding rock formation, and even it is made from granite the harsh weather conditions will degrade it eventually, just in a slower pace. When we arrived there at the first visitors of the day the wind was pretty strong, as long as you couldn’t find any shelter from it. Climbing that rocks is a bit hard, even as granite has a lot of friciton, but there might be something like nothing for the fingers, except some tiny cracks. At two smaller side boulders I had more luck and did some moves, but due to the strong wind, it was definitely a bit of an unpleasant crag. Further on we headed to the nearby Admirls Arch, which is a perfect place to spot Australian fur seals. The population is slowly recovering, also due to the adjacent marine protection area, were fishing or any other marine activities are forbidden. The seals were hunted for their thick fur. It is so designed that no water will touch their skin, contrary to the nearby sea lions. Well in this circumstances I can definitely understand why they never get cold. The Cape de Couedic lighthouse is just nearby and was at this day in maintenance, but still nevertheless not available for the public. So we just did a short walk around through the sturdy bushes. This coastline was prone to several ship accidents. And even once you made it to the shore after the ship drowned, it was definitely a nightmare to find a way through that bushes to the next settlement. At weirs cove there’s a nice view down the cliffs. This was once the supply spot for the lighthouse crew, which consisted of three families…and by the time being didn’t spoke for several months to each other…gossip as usual. And as the supplies just arrived once every three months or so, that might be a hard time. We had our lunch break near rocky river campground and then a walk around rocky river to the platypus pool. Unfortunately, during the afternoon, there were no platypus as they typically hide during the day. And we hadn’t time to wait until dusk…we could have had a look the day before, but weren’t aware of that. The platypus is the other egg-laying mammal, but it’s not endemic. It was transferred from mainland a few decades ago, in order to protect it from extinction. As the walk took longer than expected we skipped Cape Borda on our way out of the Flinders chase national park. We headed instead to snelling beach. It was very nice, but the water was definitely very cold for a swim. So it was a great refreshment, and my first swim in the Southern Ocean, or Great Australian Bight…depending on your definition of both. Further on we stopped at Stokes Bay Beach. This beach has a nice and shallow swimming lagoon, but as I already had my swim for today, I didn’t opt for another one. Surprisingly there were limestone rocks at the beach, contrary to the granite ones in the south. So I couldn’t resist to do some easy moves with this large jugs at the sandy beach. It was still 90km to drive back to the ferry in Penneshaw. We had a bit more than one hour and not too much traffic. Nevertheless, we were a bit short in time. In the end we were 5 min before departure time at the wharf…exactly when the ferry already departed ahead of us. Jojo told me that they tried to call us, but she gave her HK landline number…ehm, yes that makes perfect sense 🀣. Well now we had to wait 2 hours for the next one. The sailing during sunset wasn’t too bad and we reached in the evening again mainland Australia. During our trip at kangaroo island we saw the following 13 different animals (except flies…that doesn’t countπŸ˜†):

  • Kangaroo
  • Wallaby
  • Sheep
  • Cow
  • Koala
  • Alpaca
  • Emu
  • Monitor lizard
  • Bees
  • Echidna
  • Australian fur seal
  • Pelican
  • Dolphin

And in the end we haven’t seen penguins and platypus.

Coastline near remarkable rocks shortly after sunrise
The boulders laying on top of a dome…
…and it looks like a magic hand had put them down there
Looks a bit like the head of an Eagle?!? The red stuff is bacteria, which grows on top of the rocks
At this smaller side boulders…
…I had some fun…
…doing some moves
Maybe you should tell Alex Honnold…just in case…I mean 😏
Admirals arch, nice tufas, but harsh weather and bad smell…
…due to the perfect place to spot Australian fur seals.
Not really open door policy at Cape de Couedic lighthouse
These two islands are under marine protection, so that marine animals can recover
Stunning view at Weirs cove…I wonder, if you’re able to get down to the beach from the landside at all…I mean without doing abseiling
Koalas are not endemic to KI, but were relocated, as people were afraid of their extinction on mainland…probably true, if you see all the recent bushfires
But also KI is prone to bushfires. This is just one remains from the last large bushfire a few years ago.
A large monitor lizard was chasing for food…and suddenly scared us, as it suddenly appeared.
That’s the only platypus we saw πŸ˜†
Lovely snelling beach…
…clear water, but cold as the baltic sea. I now know why the seals have this fur πŸ˜….
SCNR these limestone jugs 😏
The coastline near Penneshaw.
Lovely sunset at the ferry on the way back to mainland.

A short video from Jojo with impressions from KI

Finally my boarding pass for the ferry

Kangaroo Island Excursion (II)

Sunday five weeks ago we continued our drive across kangaroo Island (KI). First we stopped at brown beach campground in order to get a 3 minutes shower for 2 $, or alternatively a free shower with two water bottles from the tap. I opted for both, just as backup πŸ˜‰. A few minutes later we drove took the turnoff to Pennington bay, where we had a nice view to the surf. The next stop was at prospect hill. The new stairs were just opened a few weeks ago and the walk upstairs was therefore not really hard. It’s a popular stop at the highway, as you’ve a great view to the isthmus of KI. During that short walk we were accompanied by three elderly Germans. At our drive further to the west we stopped at Murray lagoon to have another short walk to the salt water pond. It doesn’t seemed that there was too much water in the pond. We stopped at the Birds of Prey show for a late lunch snack, no we didn’t opt for the show itself, but as we didn’t have a stove with us, we would like to have a warm meal each day anyway. In the afternoon we went to little Sahara, which is on a private property. First we thought we need to pay entrance fee, but in the end it was just a lengthy registration. We didn’t rent any boards or mountain bikes, we just had a walk to the dunes, which were surrounded by bush land. At rocky river we got our national parks pass and could refill our water cans. In the late afternoon we headed via a gravel road to Sandy river. The first few kilometres until snake lagoon campsite were a bit corrugated, probably as these were officially also open for 2WD and therefore, used more often. We did another short walk along sandy river to the beach, were we enjoyed the late afternoon, before we headed back to the car park before sunset.

Brown beach next to the campground
Nice weather and surf at the Pennington bay
Lookout to the isthmus from prospect hill the highest(?) sand hill of KI
An Echidna crossed the road, and tried to hide from the camera. It’s only one of two egg-laying mammals in the world…and both living on KI
The salty Murray lagoon…wasn’t that special in the end
The sand dunes of little Sahara…
…are a tourist attraction 🀣
Beach at the mouth of sandy river during late afternoon.
Bulletproof method to get wet feet 🀣🀣

Kangaroo Island Excursion (I)

Saturday five weeks ago we organised our excursion to Kangaroo island. The evening before I picked up Jojo and we slept in the car. The last time I was in Adelaide I slept in a hostel, this was at these days when you could still afford a hostel, but directly next to that hostel was a nightclub with a loud bass until 5 o’clock in the morning, and at 6 o’clock the alarm clock rung. That’s my memory for Adelaide πŸ˜‰. Now the night was pretty chilly compared to the humid and hot nights in the northern NT, so quite a change, but still more comfortable than in hostel with a nightclub next to it. After less than one hour we were out of the city and in the countryside south of Adelaide. The landscape is so green and absolutely different to what I’ve seen the weeks before, that’s a bit challenging to recognise all of that. With a few stops along the road we arrived at Cape Jervis after about an additional hour and right in time for the ferry to Kangaroo island. The ferry is pretty expensive, and the transfer of the car is twice as expensive than the rental fee for four days. On the other hand, the daily rental fee for a car on the island is equal to four days in Adelaide. In all cases is pretty expensive, but without an own car you’re going exactly to nowhere on the island. The last time I went to Adelaide we skipped Kangaroo island, so that was the reason, why this was still on my todo list. On the ferry I had a short chat with a woman, who was visiting with her mother her daughter and little granddaughter, which were supposed to live on the island. She told me that her parents emigrated from Graz about 60 years ago, which explained the accent of her mother πŸ˜‰. Her mother then just greeted me in German 😊. After about 45 min and some waves in between we arrive at Penneshaw. Kangaroo island, the third largest island of Australia after the islands of Tasmania and Melville, was abandoned after the last ice age by the indigenous people. Hence, when the first European people arrived, they found an empty island but full of endemic species. The first European hunted mainly for whales, sea lions, and the fur of seals…until they almost got extinct. All of them still suffer from these huntings, which are already 200 years ago. After arrival on the island we made our way via unsealed roads to Cape Willoughby lighthouse. Unfortunately we didn’t realise that there is a penguin colony in Penneshaw coming ashore each night. So we missed to watch thatπŸ˜”. The roads are in a very good shape and not corrrugated at all. Even as our car looks like a 4WD, it’s just a bloody 2WD SUV. Surprisingly it was the sheapest on stock in that size, and with flatten the back seats it has a nice flat sleeping area. Much better than I thought. Cape Willoughby is supposed to be the most windiest point of Australia…which I can definitely confirm. Here, the rough southern sea strikes the southern shore, and there’s nothing in between here and Antarctica. Unfortunately, the whale watching season was already over at the end of October, and we couldn’t spot any. Contrary to the outback, here all fields are fenced in tiny areas…just similar to Europe. But in a dead-end side road we were able to find a small hidden spot for staying overnight.

Passing wine yards on the way out of Adelaide
Driving along the lovely coast…
…until it gets pretty rough.
Hopefully the ramp is closed properly…but the locals even crossing in that tiny boat at this kind of weather.
Want to perform some geometric exercise 😏?
Beautiful turquoise water in Penneshaw
Green hills with a view back to mainland Australia
Old whale bones infront of Cape Willoughby lighthouse
That’s the reason for the name of the island
The southern ocean is striking the shore of Kangaroo island

Bouldering Adelaide

Friday five weeks ago I was supposed to arrive at Adelaide railway station in the city centre, but I realised that at this railway station only commuter trains on broad gauge are operating. Hence, I took one of the shuttle buses from the parkland terminal to the CBD, and from my drop off point I just walked a few metres to the car rental station. After I put all my gear into the car and had a snack at the nearest supermarket, I headed to the Beyond Boulder Gym in Kent Town (I mean sure, that’s the most obvious thing you’re doing, after arriving in a new city🀣). I was warmly welcomed there and immediately met a few people from Germany and had a short chat with them. One of the blokes lives in Adelaide and asked my how long I would stay. The boulder gym is pretty modern, and I definitely liked the route setup. It was not only overhanging, but also some nice, and tricky technical stuff. In essence I stayed much longer than I anticipated, and was just going to leave in the early evening, after my whole body was exhausted. It was definitely a very nice experience, after the horrible boulder gym back in Darwin, and the first serious training since the one back in June in Bali. I felt, that my physical strength was a bit low after several months of not being into some training. But hey, this wasn’t important at all, as I had fun 😊.

Beyond Bolder Gym in Adelaide