Poetry Month, April 2018: Indian Pacific Railway, Sydney to Perth, Personal Experience; The Ghan, Adelaide to Darwin

Updated on April 28, 2018
annart profile image

Ann loves to write poetry and stories. Current poetry on Nature, Travel & beyond, including varied poetic structures.

Indian Pacific & its Emblem

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Engine which pulls 38 CarriagesWedge-Tailed Eagle of the Nullarbor - Emblem of the Indian Pacific
Engine which pulls 38 Carriages
Engine which pulls 38 Carriages | Source
Wedge-Tailed Eagle of the Nullarbor - Emblem of the Indian Pacific
Wedge-Tailed Eagle of the Nullarbor - Emblem of the Indian Pacific | Source

Indian Pacific Railway

This journey was on my bucket list. A long silver-snake of a train trundles across the Nullarbor Plain (Nullarbor is from the Latin, meaning 'no trees') from Sydney in the East, New South Wales, to Perth in Western Australia, via Adelaide in South Australia. The landscape is varied, the accommodation is basic but comfortable and the food is tasty, supplemented by good wine or alternatives of choice.

The train does not travel at speed except, I think, travelling through several sections at night. Therefore we had plenty of time to enjoy the scenery, watch for wildlife and make a few friends as we rolled along.

It lived up to my expectations so without further ado I’ll break into verse.

Indian Pacific - Poem

Train across the Nullarbor, Sydney to Perth, over four days,

thirty-eight carriages, sleek silver, slithering over well-oiled rails.

Cabins fill, we settle in, excited at forthcoming journey,

cases unpacked, bunk-beds pre-arranged, ready to sleep ‘fore morning early.

What’s in store, will all this live up to exaggerated expectations?

Lumbering rhythm in the night lulled us as we passed bush stations,

all being used to the weekly sight

of silver train cutting through the night.

Sydney past, Blue Mountains seen, sortie to Broken Hill,

isolated, hot semi-desert, silver ore mined there still.

Silver City with park and gardens, Solar Plant from long daylight,

Living Desert Sculptures and fine buildings visitors’ delight.

This ‘Oasis of the West’ is left behind in all its splendour,

as thirty-eight silver carriages follow powerful engine’s fender.

Good food, evening drinks abound,

then dream-inspired slumber found.

Adelaide with Barossa Valley, wines a-flowing, lush rolled hills,

pretty city, Victorian style, university buildings fill

minds with culture, art and knowledge, impressing all who enter there.

Trams and pelicans, beach, memorials of those who fought to keep it fair.

Back to station near the park, ready for our supper tasty,

drinks and desserts all part of the score, no need to be hasty.

Off to bed once more to dream

as rhythm’s lullaby sets the scene.

Broken Hill

Main Street of Broken Hill, NSW
Main Street of Broken Hill, NSW | Source

Adelaide Arcade & Pelicans

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Adelaide Arcade with Emu & KangarooPelicans in Adelaide, by the river
Adelaide Arcade with Emu & Kangaroo
Adelaide Arcade with Emu & Kangaroo | Source
Pelicans in Adelaide, by the river
Pelicans in Adelaide, by the river | Source

Poem - Part 2

Midnight wakes us, lights on horizon mystify as houses lack,

lines of white and coloured flares meet our gaze and signal back.

What could this strange alien area be? It’s flat, big sky and clear,

deep darkness that could fill mere humans’ minds with mortal fear.

Woomera Range, way out in the Bush, wrapped in secret darkness,

military and civil aerospace, RAAF’s large complex;

fall to sleep, with dreams of space

full of faces from another race.

Past terrain flat, some scrub, kangaroos, gentle pace, no rush, Bush time,

orange dust as artist’s backdrop, dark green trees, some small inclines,

cameras click to capture scenes of vast blue sky, o’er dusty unexpected tracks

or bumpy air-strips next to rail for receiving supplies or loading packs

to send each one to is destination, far-flung stations where visits are few,

where work is hard, the day is long, water is scarce and none pass through.

We stop half-way, for fuel, to look

at this old outpost, name of Cook.

That night we stopped at the largest sheep-station, benches out for supper fare,

constellations as our canopy, clearest sky, pollution spared,

talked of how the stars were different to us of northern hemisphere,

trying to be clever, seeking out the shapes, over wine and juice and beer.

Tomorrow we’d be nearing Perth, once more entering a world we knew,

leaving wondrous lands and scenery, back to civilisation, we few.

How many of us wanted to stay

in this trance of magical days?

We passed Kalgoorlie in the night, a place where return journey stopped,

to see the mines in broad daylight, but for us, was time to drop

into the final wheel-driven sleep before our lives once more were thrown

back into towns with cars and buses, people jostling, back to our own

problems, working out our itinerary, how to get to the next safe haven

see more loved ones, those long-missed, presents taken, kisses given,

then to think of home once more,

arriving safely at our door.

Nullarbor Terrain & Airstrip

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Organic Orange - soil & scrubAirstrip beside the Railway
Organic Orange - soil & scrub
Organic Orange - soil & scrub | Source
Airstrip beside the Railway
Airstrip beside the Railway | Source

Cook - Half Way Halt for Fuelling

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Halt at Cook for this long, long train!Engine MaintenanceHalf way between Sydney & PerthJail CellExplanation of Cells
Halt at Cook for this long, long train!
Halt at Cook for this long, long train! | Source
Engine Maintenance
Engine Maintenance | Source
Half way between Sydney & Perth
Half way between Sydney & Perth | Source
Jail Cell
Jail Cell | Source
Explanation of Cells
Explanation of Cells | Source

More about the Indian Pacific

The Indian Pacific is a transcontinental passenger rail which started operation in 1970, currently operated by Great Southern Rail.

Its route is from Sydney Central to East Perth Terminal, travelling 4.352 km and taking an average of 70.5-75 hours.

The carriages are stainless steel and its operating speed is 115 km/h.

It has a plush lounge with bar and a compact dining carriage.

Route of Indian Pacific (& Lounge)

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Indian Pacific Route across the Nullarbor PlainComfortable Lounge
Indian Pacific Route across the Nullarbor Plain
Indian Pacific Route across the Nullarbor Plain | Source
Comfortable Lounge
Comfortable Lounge | Source

The Ghan

A sister to the Indian Pacific is the Ghan, also a transcontinental passenger rail operated by Great Southern Rail. It takes you deep into the heart of Australia, from Adelaide Parklands Terminal to Darwin Railway Station, or vice versa, over three nights and four days via Katherine and Alice Springs, a journey of 2,979 km. There are excursions to Katherine, Alice Springs and Coober Pedy. Its first passenger journey was in 1929.

The Ghan’s symbol is a camel and its handler. This is in recognition of the pioneering Afghan ‘cameleers’. Camels were let loose in the desert when no longer needed for transport and heavy work in the outback and are now feral.

Maybe one day I'll manage a trip on this one but for now it's another dream.

Map of Route & The Ghan at Alice Springs

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Route of The GhanThe Ghan at Alice Springs
Route of The Ghan
Route of The Ghan | Source
The Ghan at Alice Springs
The Ghan at Alice Springs | Source

Train Journeys

Have you ridden the Indian Pacific or another train?

See results

© 2018 Ann Carr


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    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      9 days ago from SW England

      Hello Dale, thanks for dropping by. Well, I think you should definitely take her on The Ghan - or the Indian Pacific! Either is a must.

      I love Adelaide. In fact, I love Australia!


    • GetitScene profile image

      Dale Anderson 

      9 days ago from The High Seas

      I (born and bred in Adelaide, South Australia) was just telling my wife (born and bred in California, USA) about The Ghan yesterday. She said I simply must take her on it because she loves train rides.

    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      5 months ago from SW England

      Your two train rides sound brilliant, Peggy! I just love trains, whatever the type.

      I did eventually get to ride the Ghan too! My sister invited me to accompany her last February - we travelled on the Indian Pacific again and then on the Ghan from Adelaide to Darwin - amazing! I'm so lucky.

      Thanks for reading and commenting, Peggy.


    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      5 months ago from Houston, Texas

      I enjoyed tagging along with you on your train ride through parts of Australia. I never knew that there are feral camels living out in the wild. Your poetry matched some of the photos perfectly: "orange dust as artist’s backdrop."

      As to your poll, the one memorable train trip that I have taken, and it was only for a few days was the Glacier Express. My friend and I got to a place where we then shifted to a cog-wheel-train that took us up to the Matterhorn.

      I did once take a steam engine train ride in Canada that was also fun.

    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      2 years ago from SW England

      Thank you, Frank, for your generous comment. I've really enjoyed writing the poetry and it's made me do more. I'm going to publish other drafts but have only managed 20 for April. Still a lot more than I usually do!

      Thanks for your support!


    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      2 years ago from SW England

      Thank you, Gypsy. Glad you enjoyed this.


    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 

      2 years ago from Shelton

      You come.. well full circle this month's poetry task.. but for you it was no task because everything was flawless.. yeah I wanted to save this one for last the last day.. but had to read and comment... thank you for taking us through this road less taken, journey and Train ride.. loved the stops and the poetry...:)

    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 

      2 years ago from Daytona Beach, Florida

      Thank you for the wonderful poetic train journey. Enjoyed.

    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      2 years ago from SW England

      Thank you, Nithya, for your generous comments. I'm glad you enjoyed the poetry and photos. Our cameras are always very busy when we're away!


    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      2 years ago from SW England

      Thank you, Linda. Glad you enjoyed this. It was a journey of a lifetime and an experience I treasure.


    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 

      2 years ago from Dubai

      Enjoyed the journey on the Indian Pacific through your wonderful poems. Great photos thank you for sharing.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      2 years ago from Queensland Australia

      This was great, Ann. I felt like I was on the journey with you. I have been on the Indian Pacific (about 30 years ago)...and thoroughly enjoyed the trip. I would love to go on the Ghan as well, but can't afford that at the moment and I don't live anywhere near Adelaide or Darwin. Thanks for sharing.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      This sounds like a wonderful journey and experience. I think that travelling by train can be a great way to see a country. Thanks for sharing the photos, facts, and evocative poetry, Ann.

    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      2 years ago from SW England

      Thanks for your extra input, Liz. There was quite a lot of orange dust but the terrain changed more than I expected it would.

      Shame about your passenger train system! I fancied a long train ride across the USA - ah well...!


    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      2 years ago from SW England

      Thank you, Catherine, for your kind comments, especially regarding the rhythm of the poem. Your journey to Florida didn't sound brilliant; what a shame!

      Great to see you too!


    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 

      2 years ago from Oakley, CA

      P.S. Bill's comment reminded me that I was also going to mention a road trip hubby and I took back in 2000. We drove cross-country from California, where we live, to visit friends in Alabama.

      Once we got on the eastern side of the Tehachapis, about the only thing that changed in the scenery was the color of the dirt! That orange-red soil and scrub brush could just as well have been in Arizona or New Mexico! So yes, some of our Southwest is like that, but not "much of the country." : -)

      Our passenger train system here is pretty much "FUBAR," the railroads having decided 30-odd years back that moving freight is more profitable than moving people. :-(

    • CatherineGiordano profile image

      Catherine Giordano 

      2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      I enjoyed the poetic journey.You captured the rhythm of a moving train in your poem while conveying the narrative through poetry. We don't have trains like this in the U.S. At least not many, and I don't think they are as comfortable and elegant as the one you describe. Thanks for taking me on your journey.

      I took a train from Virginia to Florida once. I had a little cabin to sleep in as most of the journey was overnight. The trip did not inspire poetry.

    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      2 years ago from SW England

      Thank you, Elijah! I really appreciate your support and I'm so glad you enjoyed my journey.


    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      2 years ago from SW England

      Thank you, bill. I need that support of yours to encourage me! Yes, this sort of landscape must occur in so many other countries and I always think that much of the US must be like that.

      Wishing you a wonderful weekend too, bill!


    • The0NatureBoy profile image

      Elijah A Alexander Jr 

      2 years ago from Washington DC

      Ann, you kept my mind racing for what was next. I really enjoy how you express your experiences in verse, keep them coming, I'll be reading them.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      A fascinating journey! The picture of the town could be a picture of a thousand different towns in the U.S.....looks like a Midwest farming town to me...and the desert one of dozens of deserts in the Southwest of the U.S.....such a big world and yet, so similar in many ways.

      Great work as always. YOU ARE A WRITER!!!!

      Wishing you a peaceful, easy feeling Sunday, Ann!


    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      2 years ago from SW England

      Eric, don't apologise! That's an impressive list and thanks for telling me about it. You are seriously well-travelled.

      Thanks too for your kind comment; I was trying to make the rhythm train-like so I'm glad you like it.

      Lovely to see you today!


    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      2 years ago from SW England

      Venkatachari M: Thank you so much for your kind comment. I'm glad the maps helped too.

      That's some travelling you did back then! I think train journeys through different continents are fascinating and very educational.

      Thanks for your interesting input.


    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      2 years ago from SW England

      Hello, manatita! Thank you very much for your kind comments.

      Yes, the Eurotunnel is worth doing, although it's only 35 minutes and no scenery (unless you count the fish!). The Gare du Nord is a nightmare but never mind. Yes, France is very cool, north, south, east and west, plus their trains have a great punctuality record.

      I haven't been on the ICE. I think there are quite a few european train journeys worth the ride. Used to be the Orient Express but it had its hayday in the 20s/30s and dressing up for an occasion is no longer trendy!

      Thanks for the visit.


    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Beautiful scenery with words, and cool pictures. Really pleasant poetry, like a good train ride, it picks you up and delivers.

      Eurail in the 70's from Rome to Hammerset Norway. Amtrack from our East coast to the pacific, both northern and southern routes. San Diego to Vancouver. Grand Canyon Railway. Craziest was Saigon to Hanoi. Most wonderful was part of the Orient Express which was on a sort of bucket list. Logging steam Locomotive from Flagstaff to Happy Jack ('64)

      Did I mention I really like trains? Sorry for the list but this got me remembering.

    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      2 years ago from SW England

      Thank you, Flourish, for your generous comment.

      You won't regret adding this to your list, I'm sure.

      Great to see you today!


    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      2 years ago from SW England

      Thank you, Mary, especially the 'enchantment' bit; how lovely of you!

      It is indeed a great trip. Apart from the places there seem to be so many interesting people on board to chat to over meals or a drink; such a variety of people and nationalities. Some use this route as their way of going East/West even though it's much more expensive than the plane.

      I hope you manage to do this one day.


    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      2 years ago from SW England

      Hello Liz! Thank you for such a great comment and for your highly interesting input. I'm glad I took you down memory lane, though I didn't expect to make anyone cry!

      What great stories you've told here. I love trains too as I used to go to school on one for about 10 miles each way each day. There are many tourist steam trains in Somerset so I take advantage to go with my grandchildren occasionally. I'd love to go on one in the States, right across I think.

      Great to read your comment and thanks for the visit.


    • Venkatachari M profile image

      Venkatachari M 

      2 years ago from Hyderabad, India

      A beautiful account of those wonderful journeys through your poems. I have never been to Australia even in novels. So, I do not know about these trips. But, your poems took me on these journeys and your map and the images explained it all more clearly.

      I used to travel frequently, once in a year, a lengthy distance of around 2000 km for 10 years during my early adulthood along with my wife and children to visit my hometown or my wife's hometown from our workplace residence. I left that place in 2005 at my age of 54 after serving 32 years.

    • manatita44 profile image


      2 years ago from london

      I suppose it's the Euro tunnel and the German ICE. France is cool too.Garde de Nord?

      You are very discriptive and historical here. Some of tour pics are really cool. Nice poetry.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image


      2 years ago from USA

      Loved this poetry and I would really enjoy taking that trip! Oh, the things I want to do! You have added to my list. This was a remarkable post.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      2 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      What a wonderful experience. Expressed in poetry, it takes on an enchantment. You made me wish to take this journey. I had been only to Sydney and not the other parts of Australia so this would be a great trip.

    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 

      2 years ago from Oakley, CA

      Wow, Ann! This article literally brought me to tears. Happy, pleasant tears, I assure you. It triggered so many memories for me, as well as a few regretful tears that my bucket list will never be fulfilled, due to budget constraints.

      I've never been to Australia, but we did, on 2 occasions in the early to mid 1980s host a pair of girls from Sydney, who were in a choir, and on tour; they performed with the San Francisco Girls' Chorus, of which my younger daughter was a member.

      The traveling choir members were hosted with families from our chorus. They were delightful girls, and we requested to host the same pair when their choir came to the USA once again.

      I do feel a little bit "familiar" with many of the names of towns you mention, though, thanks to having read all of the novels in a series by Arthur Upfield (1890-1964), the "Detective Inspector Napoleon Bonapa

      "Bony" as he is known, is a half-caste aboriginal person, with supreme tracking skills, and his talents are in demand far and wide across the continent, even though his home base is in Queensland.

      So, the names of Alice Springs, Coober Pedy, Kalgoorlie, Broken Hill, etc., rang a familiar tune for me. I do believe it's time to hunt for the box in which those books are stored, and re-read them all!

      As to train trips, famous or otherwise, I did answer your poll with "other," though I must confess, I've never ridden a train with the purpose being getting from one place to another. I've ridden historic trains, that have been restored for the tourist trade, and simply go out and back, or on a loop run, for a taste of "the olden days."

      Among these are a few trips on the Roaring Camp and Big Trees Railroad; a former logging run up in the Santa Cruz Mountains of Northern California, (about 3 hours from where I now live), and I've twice ridden (once with my parents as a child, and again with my own kids), the California Western Railroad, which is also a former logging run, While the RCBT runs in a loop, the CWR, colloquially known as "The Skunk Train," does run an 8-hour trip from Willits near the upper end of our Central Valley, out to Fort Bragg at the coast.

      I love trains; I feel I was born a century too late. And yes, I have a model train layout as a work in progress--also on hold due to budget issues!

      I'm putting this on Pinterest!


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