In March this year we had been on a brief trip to Adelaide, capital city of South Australia. Adelaide is about 1250 km from Sydney and is well connected by air to Sydney. But we preferred to go by train, Indian Pacific that runs between Sydney and Perth via Adelaide, a total distance of 4352 km. linking the two big oceans, Indian and Pacific. This is a luxury train with three levels of service, Platinum, Gold and Red. We have chosen the Gold service and had a spacious twin berth sleeper cabin with en-suite facilities, for our overnight journey. In each carriage there was a hospitality staff member, who makes the beds, changes sheets and takes care of other services in the carriage. Each carriage has a well stocked pantry where tea and coffee can be prepared by the guests 24 hours. Besides the shower and toilet in the cabins there is also a common toilet and shower in each carriage. There were nine cabins in our carriage. For gold and platinum class of guests, there is a special restaurant, Queen Adelaide Restaurant, where the complimentary meals and breakfast are served. There is also a special relaxing lounge for the gold and platinum guests, called Outback Explorer Lounge, equipped with a bar. The train had facilities to carry the cars of guests and is so long that in Sydney Central, it is split in two sections and stationed in two adjacent platforms, and later joined together at the time of departure. At Broken Hill where the train halted for nearly two hours guests could disembark in stages only. The train is around 700 metres long and has around 25 carriages excluding locomotives and motorail and travels at an average speed of 85 km/hour.
The train runs once a week on Wednesdays from Sydney. On 6th February 2013, we took the train and it left Sydney at 2:55 pm. The next stop was only next morning at 6:20 am at Broken Hill. The previous night we had dinner at the Queen Adelaide Restaurant. On our request the chef made special cheese and salad sandwich, which we preferred to the salad in the menu. The same way the next day for lunch the chef prepared special vegetarian noodles instead of the dish on the menu. On the whole the chef and the staff were courteous and helpful, that made the journey all the more enjoyable. At Broken Hill, we disembarked and went round the town for an hour, preferring walking around to an optional whistle-stop coach tour for an hour around the city and surroundings that Railways offered. Broken Hill is a mining town in the desert, famous for silver and lead mining. After Broken Hill, the next stop was Adelaide Parklands terminal only, which it reached at 3.05 pm. It was a very relaxing experience to watch the passing scenery from the luxury of your exclusive cabin hearing your favourite music. On the whole a very pleasant comfortable journey. The photos of the train journey and the halt at Broken Hill can be viewed at http://www.flickr.com/photos/sam-sekar/sets/72157632756530088/
In Adelaide we went on two day-tours, which we had booked earlier through Viator. The first one was Riverboat lunch cruise on Murray River. The tour coach picked us up at 9:15 am and took us to Murray Bridge, where we boarded the houseboat, Proud Mary. Proud Mary has spacious cabins, to cater to those taking 2, 3, 5 days’ tours. It has a spacious open deck, bar and dining area besides the deck housing the cabins. As the boat slowly meandered through the river making way to Mannum, another riverside town we just relaxed in the upper deck, watching the stark cliffs, River Red Gums and the flitting birds. Rajam took a turn at the steering wheel under the watchful eye of the captain. In Mannum we landed and were taken to a look out from where we had a grand view of the winding river as well as the boats and canoes anchored in the shores and plying in the waters. Then after a stroll round the town and waterfront we got back to the boat for the return trip. We had a buffet lunch on board and were happy to know that the chef was from Punjab and another kitchen staff was from Sri Lanka. The return to Adelaide was through Adelaide hills where there was a brief stop for tea at the toy factory, Gumercha. 18 metre high giant rocking toy-horse is the attraction here and one can have a good view of the hills from its top. Only few climbed to the viewing platform at the top of the horse and Rajam was one of them. There is an animal park attached to the toy factory where a few animals and birds could be viewed. We returned to Adelaide at 5:15 pm. The photos of the Riverboat cruise can be seen at http://www.flickr.com/photos/sam-sekar/sets/72157632756201584/
The next day we went on the day tour to Kangaroo island. It was a 16 hour tour from 6:15 am (hotel pick-up) to 10:30 pm (hotel drop). Kangaroo island is the third largest island of Australia, and it lies southwest of Adelaide. By coach we reached Cape Jervis, where we boarded a SeaLink ferry, which runs regular service between mainland and the island. It is a multi-deck ferry in which lower deck is reserved for cars and caravans, which many holidaymakers take with them. The distance between Cape Jervis and Penneshaw, our landing point is 13 km. At Penneshaw a coach picked us up for the tour of the island. After nearly an hour’s drive we reached Seal Bay, which is the breeding colony of Australian sea-lions. It is a conservation park and we had ample opportunity to watch the seals bask in the sunshine and swim in the sea, in singles and in groups. A parks officer kept a watchful eye to see we don’t get too close nor feed them. There is also a lookout which gives a panoramic view of the sea, sands and seals. From there we went to Hanson Bay to catch a sight of the koalas and birds, which were just resting on the tree tops because of the very warm weather.
Because of the hot weather all the way so far, we couldn’t see any animals on our way. But as we neared the Remarkable Rocks, it started drizzling. This made the walk up the steep incline to Rocks a bit slippery and so, many including Rajam did not take risk to climb up. I took the risk and the sight was quite rewarding. Only I didn’t go round the rocks because that will be testing my luck too much. So when it came to the next rock formation through wind and erosion that was almost touching the sea, called Admirals Arch, I did not go all the way down to the arch but was content with a three quarter walk down the winding pathway and then returned back to another lookout for a glimpse of the distant breeding ground of New Zealand Fur Seals. Because of the rains, on our return through the Flinders Chase National Park, we were rewarded with the sight of more than a score of Kangaroos in pairs, groups and singles as well as the stray Echidna and Wallaby. My regret is none of them posed long enough for me to catch them in my camera. The complimentary lunch was earlier in a Bistro where besides fruits, we had a puff cum cutlet, prepared specially for Vegetarians, and served on the basis of the special token we were given earlier. We returned via ferry and coach to the hotel, very tired but exhilarated. The photos of Kangaroo island tour can be seen at http://www.flickr.com/photos/sam-sekar/sets/72157632745040397/
We stayed in Hotel Grand Chancellor on Currie, which we had booked through Webjet. The hotel does not have an impressive frontage, but the rooms were spacious and cosy and the staff were very helpful. What is more to our liking is the hotel is close to Subway, 24 hour McCafe, 3 Indian restaurants, one of them south Indian, the bus stop and Tramway. The next day, we were on our own exploring Adelaide by bus, tram and by walk. Being a Sunday it is all-day free-travel, by bus and tram for seniors, for which we had earlier taken the token. Adelaide is a well-laid beautiful city with broad clean roads and vast park-lands and walking around it was a pleasure. After walking around visiting the art gallery and botanical garden, we went on a cruise in the Torrens River. Then we took the tram to Glenelg, where we relaxed in the beautiful beach watching the ladies playing beach volleyball and men fishing from the the jetty. The next day we returned to Sydney, this time by JetStar flight with lots of happy memories, a few photos and making plans for the next trip. The photos of Adelaide city can be viewed at http://www.flickr.com/photos/sam-sekar/sets/72157632749003430/