School trip

Fremantle, 22 January 2001


Friday, 19 January 2001
Mrs Sergeant Major Sir speaks. The steward has not even finished his list of does and don't, such as:
  • always wear shoes when leaving the carriage.
  • never leave any arms or legs lying in the aisle.
  • never choose a new seat without consulting the steward first.
  • smoking is only permitted in the Smokers
  • You are not allowed to eat or drink at the bar, you are at your own seat, but not in the Smokers.
The stewards just shuts up and just waits for the speaker to end. Mrs Sergeant Major Sir is the train manager and rules this train, that's clear.

De Indian Pacific ( departs from Adelaide. An old Italian checks the coolness of the drinking water. It's not cool enough, at least for the first twenty litres. Guess the pipes are longer here than they are at home.

His wife is in front, next to a drunken Aussie. He is just able to talk, but it won't last long. His six packs VB's go fast.

The movie starts. The carriage turns into the movies. The Smokers opens, the one and only meeting place for the bad, the weird and the ugly. It's like a second film.

Fortunately the train is smoke free. Smoking is only allowed in the Smokers, and nothing else but cigarettes. Eating and drinking is not allowed there. Mrs Sergeant Major Sir did say so, her very self. Anyway, the Smokers soon turns into an illegal bar. When the steward passes by for inspection the cans of VB disappear out of sight for the moment, and the six packs reappear afterwards.

The drunken Aussie is in good shape. He ventures into the shower with a can and returns wet, top to bottom. The Italian lady gets her belongings and is off to find a more quiet place for her knitting.

A few hundred kilometres down the track, the drunken Aussie finished his last six pack. He is off to the bar now. Obviously they won't supply him there. Disappointed he falls asleep in his chair. On the floor of the Smokers another twosome lies straight out, Mastered by alcohol.

Port Augusta is about the end of the inhabited world. A bit further down the Nullabor Plain (plain without trees) starts. The train halts to pick up some extra passengers. Mrs Sergeant Major Sir marches down the aisle, with the steward and three policemen following her.

The drunken Aussie has to leave the train. He is not able to comply. The officers give him a hand, arresting him for trespassing. End of the train fun for him. The sleepers in the Smokers have reached an premature disembarking point as well.

An Aboriginal family boards.

The Smokers is now a place for just smoking. Just very few bald travellers dare to smuggle a can passed the eyes of Mrs Sergeant Major Sir. The rest of the train is quiet. Most passengers are asleep.

Nullabor Plain

Saturday, 21 January 2001
The Nullabor Plain, from the edge of Cook The day goes and returns at the treeless plain.

Right in the middle of the Nullabor Plain the Aboriginal family disembarks, walking to some fellow tribe members. I wouldn't want to swap places with them for the world.

The break in Cook (inhabitants: 2 adults, 1 child, 2nd one on its way) is a highlight. Swimming pool, hotel, jail with space for 2, school, a golf club and a hospital are memories of more busy times. Refill in Cook

The train takes fresh water and continues it's journey.

Kalgoorlie ( is the next stop. 31.000 people, mainly contractors, working in the gold mines.

Indian Pacific

Sunday, 21 January 2001
The last night is surprisingly tranquil. The locomotive breaks down, right in the middle of the night. Mobile phones are not working here. The power is down. It's impossible to ask for help. The passengers just enjoy a good nights rest, without the usual shaking. It's only the next morning when another locomotive arrives.

The Nullabor Plain ends. The first trees come into sight. Some big brown kangaroos are resting in the shade of a tree. A bit further down some eagles make their turns.

The landscape gets greener and greener. In wheatfields some Emoes run away when they see the train coming. Perfect Perth is almost there. The journey is now close to it's end. How about us all hiding under the benches, or would Mrs Sergeant Major Sir forbid that?

Till next week!