Thursday, February 05, 2015

From Brisbane to Sydney By Rail

When I studied Modern History at evening school many decades ago, my text book was intelligently titled, "From Frankfurt to Fra Mauro", the period of history which was then considered "modern".

On commencing classes, I had no idea what had happened in Frankfurt and to be honest, I've since forgotten, but I knew from watching Armstrong take humankind's first step on the lunar surface what had happened in the Fra Mauro Highlands of the moon. (Congratulations once again Neil.)

By comparison, the trip from Brisbane to Port Macquarie was completely mundane and it's probably a ridiculous comparison to make. However, in the mundane lives we ordinary people lead, it is often possible to make insignificant events significant by comparing them with other events. So, if you are still with me, here goes.

Experienced people like my wife and me get a serious discount on railways ... purely because we are experienced. Some refer to it as being "seniors", but I prefer the experience angle. We purchased our tickets for about half price and chose the First Class option rather than cattle class as we didn't want to bump shoulders with lesser beings and more importantly, there is more room to stretch one's weary legs.

Our friends Jeffrey and Sue dropped us off at the Brisbane Central Railway Station at some ungodly hour ... It was still dark for goodness sake. But we managed to wend our way through the cafeteria to the little shed on the platform where a lovely lady weighed our baggage and told us they were overweight because railways staff cannot handle anything heavier than 20 kg (poor bastards).

As a midwife, Christina handles birthing mothers that are akin to small whales, well over 20 kg. No wonder she has "nurses back". Does she whimp out? Never.

Anyway, we two "experienced" people whose arteries are probably partially clogged, whose joints ache with arthritis and who lie awake at night listening to the disorder of our veins, lugged our baggage onto the train with relative ease. We then sat in our comfortable seats and waited to depart.

Although nothing can compare with the efficiency and effectiveness of the German Railway system, the New South Wales Railways Xpress did depart right on time. The carriages were clean and comfortably furnished.

We glided our way south through the suburbs of Brisbane towards the Gold Coast and shortly after through the northern region of New South Wales. Daylight arose soon after our departure from Brisbane and we noticed that all the countryside was beautifully green and spread with grass and trees. Recent rains had obviously had an impact.

As the train headed towards our destination, we were able to visit the buffet car to buy a cup of coffee and some croissants for breakfast.

There were surprisingly few people in our carriage and I expect the rest of the train, which meant we could stretch out into other seats and noise was minimal.

When we arrived at Wauchope near Port Macquarie friend Caroline met us and drove us to our timeshare property, the Vacation Village.

As we unpacked our gear and prepared for the week ahead at Port Macquarie, we discussed how pleasant the train journey had been and contemplated the next leg to follow from Port Macquarie to Sydney at the end of the week.


PS: "Seniors" can buy $2.50 combined rail, train and ferry tickets for use anywhere within the greater Sydney Metropolitan area and close surrounds. We spent a couple of days travelling on the train visiting Kiama to the south of Sydney and Katoomba to the west. Not a bad deal.