In past years I have posted about my travels in Europe and North America. This year I decided to keep to Australia and New Zealand. I have always wanted to take the 2 great train trips across the continent from North to South and West to East.
At the beginning of July I flew from Christchurch to Melbourne. I spent a weekend there last August so mainly I wanted to meet up with a friend. Eric was actually a student at the school in my very first year of teaching. I did not teach him but he was part of a group which toured New Zealand in January 1967 when I first fell in love with the country. He also attended the same church as me and much later we met on the gay scene. He was very bright, entered the diplomatic service ( I once visited him at the Australian High Commission in New Delhi) and late became a university administrator. Although retired he is studying for a doctorate. We were going to meet at the Victorian Art Gallery then have lunch but he had injured his foot so I went to his home and we spent several hours in an upmarket restaurant several doors away.
The next day I travelled by train across to Adelaide where I stayed for 4 nights.
I visited the town of Hahndorf in the nearby hills.
This town was settled by immigrants from Germany in the mid nineteenth century and many of the old buildings have been preserved. While they were from Prussia, the present day town contains the usual Bavarian kitsch but after visiting the museum I had a lunch of Wursten and Bavarian beer so count that as my European holiday for 2012.
I also went to Choral Eucharist in the cathedral, visited the Art Gallery and a Railway Musuem and took a tram to Glenelg.
Then I boarded "The Ghan" for a journey of about 55 hours up through the centre of Australia. The train is named after the Afghan camel trains which opened up this dry area. The train had over 30 carriages on it.
We crossed into the Northern Territory about 20 hours after leaving Adelaide. In the afternoon we had several hours in Alice Springs (pop 28,000) almost in the centre of Australia. I stayed there on another school trip way back in 1968 but took a bus tour and wandered around the Botanical Gardens of desert plants. I climbed a hill and took a photo of the Heavitree Gap in the MacDonnell ranges.
The Todd river flows through the gap but it is usually dry. A regatta is held every year in which a race is held although the boats have no bottoms and the "rowers" run the course.