All Aboard the Train to Perth

July 11, 2013

On the Indian-Pacific train heading for Perth.

I had most of the day to spend in Adelaide since my train did not depart until 6:40 PM so I decided to see some of the sights on foot.

My first destination was the Botanical Gardens. About a 15minute walk from my hotel. Although the gardens were smaller than its counterparts in Sydney or Melbourne, they were still lovely and very well maintained. There was a long path that was lined on both sides with the huge Moreton Bay fig trees. These are the trees that have wide fins that come off the trunk to establish the root system. I believe I put a photo of one or two of them in one of my posts from Sydney. They are unique and interesting trees. These Botanical Gardens also had a large display of cactus that reminded me of the desert southwest in the USA.

The National Wine Centre is in one corner of the Botanical Gardens so that was my second stop. The building that houses this centre is rather unique as when you enter you feel like you are walking into a giant oak wine cask! Apparently the building has won many awards for its design. I did a self-guided tour of the centre and learned about or was reminded of many grape and wine-making facts. Australia is a huge wine producer with a reputation for producing world-class wines. This is a growing industry for the Aussies. They produce a wide variety of reds, whites and sparkling wines. If you haven’t tasted any Aussie wine, see if your local liquor store carries any, and give it a try. Be warned though, there is one Aussie wine that is heavily marketed in the US and sold fairly cheaply. This may not be the most representative of Australian wine! So I finished my self-guided tour (and the guide did a great job!) at 10:30 AM and I was in the tasting room so it was time to taste some wine! I choose to try the Local Flight and was given 3 different wines to sample: a white, a rose’ and a red. I thought the white would be my favorite (it was described as having overtones of citrus and green beans!) and it was good, but the rose’ was my favorite with its strawberry, raspberry and cream overtones! So smooth! The red was too peppery for my liking.

From the National Wine Centre I walked along North Terrace, the road that delineates the northern border of the CBD of Adelaide. Along this road I stopped to visit the Southern Australia Museum. This is the second week of school holidays for the children of South Australia and they were out in force with their harried mothers and grandparents! Didn’t bother me any because I was not responsible for any of those children! The museum had a large display of Aboriginal artifacts as well as artwork of the native people. The kids were most excited in the sections that featured land and sea animals! For me, my favorite part is the mineral display, with all the gorgeous colors and shapes!

I continued down North Terrace with the intention of checking out the casino and maybe making a $5.00 donation. The casino sits on top of the local train station (not the one I departed from) in a restored old building. Let’s just say that the casino was rather dull so I did a quick walk around and left with my money still in my pocket.

I planned to spend the afternoon looking in the many shops in the Rundel Mall, Adelaide’s main shopping area. This is not a mall in the US sense of a mall, but rather a large street, closed off to traffic for lots of blocks. There are shops on both sides of the street and street entertainers along the way in the middle. Again, because it was a school holiday the place was packed and there was a festive mood in the air. I shopped ’til I dropped, buying just a few things. After my pedometer had 25,000 steps for the day I sat on a bench in the middle of the mall, ate an apple and did some serious people-watching!

I took a taxi to the train station, where I got checked in and waited for departure time. Twenty minutes before the train pulled out I was able to board and found my way to cabin K-17, a single cabin in a small space with a large window.

I am writing this from the train and will post it when I get Internet, probably on Saturday night at the hotel in Perth. The uneven rocking of the train has made typing a challenge at times!

Dinner in the dining car was lovely. I had soup, lamb chops and a warm apple tart for dessert. My dinner companions were 2 other riders traveling solo. I went to dinner early so I could sit in the club car and have a glass of wine before my meal. I enjoyed a nice conversation with two couples who also got on in Adelaide. My American accent is a great conversation starter with folks and, as we’ve experienced in other places, the Aussies like to talk about their trips to the USA.

The train left Adelaide in the dark and I look forward to waking up in the morning and seeing the views out my cabin window.

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