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Saturday 12 Dec 2009
Adelaide, Australia

Sydney to Adelaide via the Choo Choo

Since our train did not depart until 2:55pm we requested a late check out and didn't have to rush in the morning.  We grabbed a quick breakfast across the street and stumbled upon a little store called The Tin Soldier.   The store was full of toy soldiers, made of plastic some made of pewter, some as little as ½ inch others as tall as 10 inches.  Books and games and models (like model planes but tanks, war craft, you name it).  One ½ inch soldier had a price tag of $750 !.  At the back of the shop was a table with green felt on it about 5 ft square and there were two gentlemen setting up their war games.  I stopped and chatted with them - they've been doing this for 30+ years, they travel all over to play against others (said it keeps them off the streets and out of trouble).  They showed me the rule book which was a hard bound book about 2 inches thick.  The models come in a gray tone and then you paint it according to the period (civil war, WWI, WWII, etc.).  One of the gentlemen had a traditional tank painting while the other had ‘modified' his to include spikes and barbs.   Interesting....

We then went down to the QVB (Queen Victoria Building) to take a picture of the Swarovski Crystal display.  The building has 3 levels - ground, 2nd & 3rd.  The Swarovski Xmas tress goes from the ground floor all the way to the 3rd floor in the center of the building that is domed.  It is BEAUTIFUL !

We then checked out of the hotel and discovered there are no gas stations in the city of Sydney - you have to go the outskirts to find one, which was not an easy task.  Just about the time we were ready to say screw it - let them charge us $10/liter at the rental return we stumbled on a Mobil station. 

We checked in for our train and got into our little cubbyhole of a cabin and settled for our 2:55pm departure. We actually took off a few minutes early as everyone was on board.  Reminded me of trips in Europe.....rocking and a rolling along the tracks.  We've been through neighborhoods, farmland and a whole lot of wide open spaces - red clay dirt and brush. 

They have a welcome reception with a glass of champagne to tell you about the Indian Pacific train and the route as well as how the meal services work.  Much like a cruise ship the staff are multi-taskers.  Our servers are also or cabin helpers.

We opted for the late seating for meals and joined a couple from the UK for dinner.  The menu offering was very nice ranging from roast kangaroo to barramundi to pork chops.  Just my luck the veggies were cauliflower & broccoli (2 of Tony's favorites) and the dessert he had was a cheese/cracker plate that included a blue cheese so you can imagine what the rest my evening was like !   We'd brought a bottle of champagne with us and they were kind enough to chill it for us so we had it with dinner. 

By the time we got back to our cubby about 9:30pm our beds were made up so we hit the hay and read for awhile before drifting off to sleep.  I ended up putting my head at the foot of the bed so I could look out the window at all the beautiful stars.  With no lights anywhere the sky was sparkling with millions of stars.  I woke up several times throughout the night and could see the Big Dipper and Little Dipper, each time in a different position from my view. 

The sun rose about 5am and the wakeup call came at 5:55am.  By then I'd already showered in our 3ft x 3ft bathroom (similar to the Phoenix Hotel in Paris but smaller).  Tony got up at 6am and we grabbed a couple of muffins as we arrived into Broken Hill.  We shared a table with a 65 year old woman that used to work for BHP (Broken Hill Partners) until they closed down the facility in New Castle where she worked after 17.5yrs.  She made out pretty well, walked away with $200,000 and a house that had been fully paid for with BHP shares. 

At 6:45am we hopped on a bus for a quick tour of Broken Hill while the train refilled water and supplies.  Broken Hill is a mining town out in the middle of nowhere.  Founded by 7 men in the late 1800's.  They struck Silver back then and are still actively mining the metal today.  Population of 20,000, they have 4 sets of traffic lights above ground and 36 sets of traffic lights underground in the mines.  The miners work 12 hr shifts - 5 days on, 5 days off. 

Back on the train @ 8:15am, breakfast @ 9:30am, mid-morning snooze while waiting for lunch @ 1:30pm and arrived into Adelaide @ 3:05pm.

By the time we got to the hotel there was only 30 minutes before everything closes (5:00pm) so we took a quick stroll through the main shopping area amongst all the Christmas Shopping.  Same old stores, different city, not big deal.  We decided to do our laundry and order in a pizza.  May still hop over to the Casino across the street but maybe not.

Monday, December 14th we fly from Adelaide to Alice Springs.

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