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The Great Southern Rail

August 1, 2011

“I wanna jump off here! I wanna jump off here!” the little boy sitting in front of me keeps saying this little mantra to his indifferent mother. For a few disturbing moments, I thought the boy really meant to jump off the train and therefore proving any psychological disorder that he might be experiencing, probably being mentally abused by his psychotic mother or drunk father at home. But after a while, I am relieved to realise that the boy is just being excited and thrilled with what he sees outside the glass panel of the train, as excited and thrilled as I am, only I don’t have the guts to say, “I wanna jump off here too!”

Train travel, with all its rattling adventures and overwhelming luxuries, is still one of my favourite childish sports. It’s like taking a poetic pilgrimage to Eternal Bliss and Peace. Passing the spectacular Australian landscape and memorable open spaces always makes me jump out of my seat. Picture Perfect is at every turn and corner; lakes sitting quaintly in the middle of well-manicured fields, sheep grazing sleepily on gently-sloped hills like polka dots on a pretty dress, wildflowers blooming freely along the rail like a long carpet waiting for royal arrival, the greeneries that are never tired of their exotic tapestry and intricacies.

The train that I’m riding now is part of the larger web of Australian chain-trains called The Great Southern Rail. It is dubbed as “Australia’s Great Train Journeys”, which I absolutely agree. I have yet to book The Ghan (between Adelaide and Darwin), or The Indian Pacific (between Sydney and Perth) or The Southern Spirit (between Adelaide and Brisbane), but I can already tell they are all worth the booking. Right now, I’m so proud to be riding on one of their famous routes, called The Overland, which is taking me from Melbourne to Adelaide.

Established for more than 100 years, Emu has been the symbol for The Overland (see there?). It is for this “animalistic” reason that I decided to opt for a train ride instead of boarding a cheap flight: to fly gracefully through the wide open land (like Emu!). Starting at the Southern Cross Station in Melbourne at 8 o’clock sharp in the morning, the train crosses the Australian outback for 828 kilometres and takes ten and a half hours to reach the Keswick station in Adelaide. Moving at 85 km/ hour, there are no other better (and slow) ways to immerse yourself and appreciate the kaleidoscopic treasures that Australia has to offer. It’s the best way to relax and fly (or jump off, if you prefer so).

Surprisingly, the standard of service is of high class and admirable dedication. I don’t really mind if there are unexpected delays or unforeseen technical glitches. For the record, I am so used to being around poor train services in Malaysia. But but, I refuse to describe those experiences as “horrible” or “tragic”. I’d rather remember them fondly and highlight the best parts of them – being able to witness the romantic wilderness and being accompanied with the glorious side of loneliness – solitude. Illegitimate and private thoughts have never been so ripe and juicy and ready to pick on a lonely train journey, right?

Alas, no matter how beautiful (or how painful) the journey is, there will come a point when you have to end it somewhere at a chosen destination. Like a movie, there is a happy or sad ending. I’m lucky since my chosen course is as beautiful as the journey. Adelaide is welcoming me with all her magic and enchantment. I feel like jumping off the train now. Er, where is that little boy?

2 Comments leave one →
  1. August 1, 2011 6:47 pm

    You’re such a romantic, Cekmi. purrrr *giggles*


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