The train pulled into the station at Townsville at 4-00pm. It was a long train 20 carriages, including the engine, one restaurant car in the first class Queenslander area, one buffet/dining car and a lounge car for the rest of travellers. Quite an impressive sight as it rolled in.
Our cubicle was the last one before the dividing, locked door into the first class Queenslander compartments it was a walk along the corridor of 5 carriages to the dining car. But that is ok, as it is exercise and an insight to the other passengers as I “sticky beak” into the compartments as I walk by.
After settling in we walk to the dining car for dinner. I remember this meal well from the earlier trip I did in 2005. It was one of the tastiest train meals I have ever had. The cooking is all done onboard in a minute galley kitchen, about the size of an average walk-in-wardrobe. No pre-cooked, packaged meals here. The meal comes up to my expectations. The roast beef just melts in your mouth and freshly cooked roast vegetables are the accompaniment. A small glass of wine and a beer for Jack and we watch the sun slowly disappear and darkness descend. We are feeling relaxed and happy to be on the way home.
The cabin is converted to a bedroom when the staff come round and let down the top bunk.
At 9-30pm as I lay there I listen to the very noisy clatter and clang of the wheels. The carriage shudders and jerks along and I think to myself “this is going to be a long night…”
Sleep is such a strange thing. You cannot make yourself go to sleep, and when it does over take you, you cannot, actually recall the moment of dropping off. So it was with me, after thinking I would never get to sleep I suddenly woke up to find it was 2am and I was needing to visit the toilet. Returning to the bunk I noticed a change in the tempo of the train, now the wheels were whispering and rushing headlong through the night and the carriage had a gentle sway and rock like the cradle in the tree-top. I soon slipped back into sleep.
Another sunny day dawns outside the window, but inside the cabins the temperature is kept at a rather uncomfortable air-conditioned level.
There is a choice of continental or full English breakfast. I resist the temptation of the bacon and eggs…
The staff is extremely efficient and friendly, I chat with them in the buffet car and am amazed to find they are catering for 200 passengers in that small cubby hole of a kitchen.
One of the main benefits of travelling in a train is the fact that you can wander around. Spend time in the lounge area, which is much warmer than the cabins, talk to fellow passengers, drink copious cups of coffee. Walk the 5 carriage walk each time you go for a meal or coffee. Watch the scenery roll by and attempt to capture it, unsuccessfully, on the camera, but it is fun and time-consuming trying. Then of course we had books to read and the computers with us, but no internet!!!!
The scenery mesmerised me, the tinge of drought colours the land gold. I read a page or two of my book but my eyes are drawn back to the unfolding vista. As the hills of the Glasshouse Mountains pierce the horizon the land turns greener. The train slows for a bend and I try to catch the fleeting glimpse of the engine.
The road, that I should be driving along, snakes along-side the tracks, occasionally veering off to pass through another small settlement, a cluster of houses, a pub, garage and sometimes a country store. Then it returns trailing the rail line.
The 24 hours did actually seem to fly by and before we had time to get bored the train was pulling into Brisbane. Change to one more local train to take us just over an hour to the Goldcoast and we were greeting and hugging our friends who had come to meet us from the train.