Part Six - Perth to Home

23rd August, 1998
24th August, 1998
25th August, 1998
26-27th August, 1998

Sunday, 23rd August, 1998

Rottnest Island photograph

Cottage on Rottnest Island, WA

Drop Cap t breakfast we paid final final farewells (as opposed to the final farewells at dinner last night). Then we waited for our pickup to the wharf. Once there we boarded the Boat Torque Superflyte, very streamlined, for our cruise to Rottnest Island. Ena and Dick Fletcher (the lady who broke her wrist) were also on it. It was a bit chilly, even on board, but it got warmer later.

Peacock Rottnest Island photograph

Shops and Peacock, Rottnest Island WA

Drop Cap rriving at Rottnest we joined Leycester, our guide, for a quick walking tour of Thompsons Bay Settlement. It has a lot of old buildings that started out as an aboriginal prison. I had no idea of the history of Rottnest, just the origin of its name. But the buildings were quite picturesque and the largest prison complex is now a Lodge Resort, where we had a pleasant buffet lunch. We even saw a quokka in the town. After lunch we walked around, looking at the shops and the museum. There was a peacock in full plumage walking around.

Rottnest Fire Dept truck photograph

Rottnest Island Fire Department, WA

Drop Cap left the museum before Mac and was lucky enough to see the Rottnest Fire Department, one tonka toy with reel and rakehoes. I took a photo of it but the firefighters took it away before Mac came out.

Rottnest Quokka photograph

Quokka and fans, Rottnest Island WA

Drop Cap e had a two hour bus tour around the island, (it is very small) and saw lots of quokkas and some rare bird life.

Rottnest Blowhole photograph

Blowhole, Rottnest Island WA

Drop Cap he Western end of the island has sensational scenery, very wild and rugged and the colour of the water is unbelievable. Back in the boat to Perth and our last supper in the west. Tomorrow the Indian Pacific! Toot toot!

Rottnest Westside photograph

Western End, Rottnest Island WA

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Monday, 24th August, 1998

Perth Tourist Tram photograph

Perth Tourist Tram

Drop Cap fter breakfast this morning we put the bags in storage and checked out of the Novotel. We went for an hour and a half tour on the Perth Tourist Tram.

Burswood Dome photograph

Burswood Dome, Perth WA

Drop Cap his took us to Burswood Hotel and Casino plus the Dome arena which is the home of the Hopman Cup I watch every year. We had five minutes to look at the fabulous (in every sense of the word) entrance foyer of the hotel. It was unbelievable.

Drop Cap hen we went through the city, up to Kings Park, down to the wharf area and back to the city. We got out and walked through a couple of pedestrian malls and back to the Novotel, via the Catholic cathedral which is practically next door to the tiny white shingle roofed church which was the first catholic one in Perth. We also walked past the old fire station museum, but it was too late.

Indian Pacific photograph

Boarding the Indian Pacific, Perth Station

Drop Cap ack to the Novotel to collect the bags, then a cab to East Perth Interstate Terminal. The train left on time and here we are on the Indian Pacific en route for Kalgoorlie, stopping at Southern Cross in fifteen minutes. Our little home from home for the next three days is cosy and surprisingly roomy. We have a large couch which converts into a bunk and another built into the wall above. There are two shallow closets and a tiny shower, with toilet and handbasin folding out of the wall in the same cubicle. There is room to stow the suitcase under the seat and if we had slightly smaller bags we could put both of them in here. The shower is an unknown treat in store.

Indian Pacific  photograph

Our cabin, Indian Pacific, Daytime

Drop Cap he conductor for our coach, a tall model type called Kylie, introduced herself and brought us cups of coffee. Coffee and tea etc and cold water is available at all times from the end of the coach and there is a radio channel which plays music and gives us commentaries of how they built the railway and what lies ahead. The train is quite full (first class anyway) and we are on second sitting for meals currently awaiting a summons.

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Tuesday, 25th August, 1998

Indian Pacific  photograph

Our cabin, Nightime configuration

Drop Cap ell, dinner last night was quite pleasant, caesar salad, chicken for Mac, lamb cutlets for me, apple pie or berry yoghurt ice cream. The bunks were made up when we got back so we went to bed, there being no room for anything else. Not a good night because it is quite hard on my hips but Mac said I was snoring so I must have gone to sleep on my back.

Nullarbor photograph

The Nullarbor Plain at Cook SA

Drop Cap oke up to the Nullarbor Plain, stretching away to infinity. Never was a place better named, although good rain this year has made it quite green with wildflowers coming out. The shower was - er - interesting. It is in the same tiny cupboard that the toilet and handbasin occupy but they fold into the wall and take the waste water etc with them. You have to pull a curtain over them and the door before you turn on the shower, but I have had less space and water pressure in caravans in England.

Drop Cap reakfast was choice of juice, choice of 3 cereals including porridge or fresh fruit compote; choice of eggs, scrambled, poached or fried with appropriate accompaniments. Toast and lots of jams and honey, Coffee to finish. And lunch is only a few hours away!

Cook photograph

Station at Cook on the Nullarbor Plain SA

Drop Cap e crossed the border into South Australia and stopped for two hours at Cook to refuel, rewater etc. Cook is almost a ghost town now. There are many houses, a school and store, lots of trees have been planted and it is quite nice, but only four people live here now. Mac has gone up into the loco for the driver to show him and other enthusiasts (the train is full of them, surprise, surprise) how it works. It seems a computer does it all, the driver is just there for the look of the thing.

Indian Pacific Locomotive photograph

The Indian Pacific Engine, at Cook SA

Drop Cap e have just passed out of the Nullarbor and, at Ooldea, have entered an area of sandhills with lots of scrubby gumtrees and wattle and mallee. From one to the other was very quick and the scenery is totally different. We have come to the end of the "Long Straight" and will probably slow down a bit now.

Drop Cap unch was a pleasant meal; I had pumpkin soup, tempura prawns and vanilla bean bourbon icecream, Mac had a lamb pie and creme caramel. Nice. I read until dinner, there isn't much to do between meals but when the first sitting went in we had a glass of wine and some nuts in the lounge until second sitting. I had onion soup, kangaroo fillets grilled (lovely and tender) and baked cheesecake. Mac had linguini, kangaroo and steamed fruit pudding. We passed the lights of the rocket testing town of Woomera during dinner last night. It is being used again, after all these years, by a Japanese group I think.
I doubled up the quilt on my bunk and slept on top with a spare blanket over me and had a better night than last night.

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Wednesday 26th August, 1998

Drop Cap woke when the train reached Adelaide at about 6.30. Fell asleep again until we left again at about 7.45. Then breakfast. We are only one sitting now having lost a lot of people in Adelaide and only gained a few. We had breakfast with a pleasant American couple from Hawaii. OJ and omelettes with sausage and bacon, toast and coffee. It was a bit late and lunch will be a bit early. Can't say I'm very hungry. Lunch was heavy going, not the food, the company. We had chicken satay, nice, and apple and rhubarb flan. Good.

Broken Hill photograph

Broken Hill from the Train, NSW

Drop Cap t is now 3.30 and we are back in New South Wales, Broken Hill, to be precise. We stopped for 30 minutes to embark and disembark some passengers and we got out to look. It's quite a city, really. Not that we saw much of it. I bought some handmade liqueur chocolates at a stall on the station.

Drop Cap ippety hop on N.S.W. rail tracks, shocking! It was terrible trying to eat. Trout and avocado salad, beef fillet, macadamia nut tart. Yummy! We are packing and trying to shower tonight to save time tomorrow. I want to watch as we go through the mountains. So I will leave this here, the writing looks drunk anyway.

Drop Cap t's been an interesting trip. I thought it might drag but it hasn't really. The ability to stretch out or curl up rather than just sitting in a chair makes it much more agreeable.

Thursday, 27th August, 1998

Drop Cap t was very misty at 6 a.m. at Lithgow but we got up and dressed to watch the mountains go past. It was too early and too overcast for the right colour, unfortunately. We were having breakfast when we went through Blaxland, pointing out our street to our American table mates. Into Central and we were home by 11 a.m.

Drop Cap e enjoyed the trip, some parts more than others; I will never enjoy GABA, like between Kalgoorlie and everywhere else, but strangely enough, the Nullarbor Plain was quite interesting. The Valley of the Giants and Monkey Mia were absolutely magic. I would gladly stay longer at Karri Valley Resort, Monkey Mia and Rottnest Island. All in all, a good value tour.

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