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 😄, 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 versa🤔) 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.