Day 10 : Trains and Boats and Planes

Friday 5 June 2014

Aaaand now I can relax! I’ve made it to the Sunshine Coast, where my friend Lisa lives, and I don’t intend to do a lot over the next few days other than rest, catch up on admin, and one or two other things (I need Malaria tablets, for instance). I’ve been here before, albeit a long time ago, so while places and objects like Australia Zoo and The Big Pineapple are close by, I shan’t be going to them this time. Sorry! [It also means I probably won’t be writing an entry for each day!]

However, my flight was quite a late one – I didn’t land until around 11.20pm and we made it back to Lisa’s house around 1.30am-ish (it would have been quicker but we stopped at McDonalds on the way home. Don’t judge me!); I’d spent most of the day looking around the suburb of Port Adelaide.

No issues this morning with raving gunmen, so getting up there wasn’t a problem. This time I took a local train up there (and caught the bus back, incidentally) – nice easy ride up, past both area of industrial activity, and rows of single-storey suburbia. That said, the route to Glenelg was prettier and, I’d say, more affluent.

Port Adelaide is the harbour area of Adelaide, and pretty much where the original settlement was. It’s a sprawling area, with the heritage zone at the harbour a couple of km away from the beach and seaside area of Semaphore. Which is an odd name for a town with no readily apparent railway connection, yes.

I went to a couple of museums in Port Adelaide; the Maritime Museum in the morning, and a quick dash through the Railway Museum in the afternoon. The latter I got to about 70 minutes before closing time which wasn’t quite enough time to do it justice, but it was a good way to finish the day – especially as I’d come to Adelaide on the train from Perth, and that western route was well mentioned in the Museum, including how the route itself was vital for the cohesion of the Australian Confederation in the first place (Western Australia were dragging their heels on integration, but were happy to join as long as they got a West-East rail service).
There were also a nice selection of railway engines and carriages on show, of three different rail gauges. One of the problems the early Confederation had was, because each of the individual states had already started on developing their own rail network, they had done so independently and based on advice they’d received from different sources. Consequently they didn’t necessarily use the same width of rail – Victoria used a narrower ‘gauge’ whilst NSW used a ‘broader’ gauge.

The Maritime Museum was quite large, and on three levels, although I was either following, or being followed by, a series of school groups (in fact this had been the case in a couple of other Adelaide museums, but here it was more apparent), so that affected my progress.
There were several sections to the museum; one area talked about the local boats (the ‘Mosquito Fleet’) that used to sail around the islands and the coastline around Adelaide; small independent trading boats that zipped around like mosquitoes. This included a full-scale replica of one of the boats, which was very cramped inside.
Another large section looked at health and medicine at sea, with specific reference to the boats that traversed the route from the UK to Australia, but also looked at the role of the ships surgeon (who was expected to perform miracles but in the early days was considered one of the lesser crew members and even had to buy his own instruments, until gradually at the start of the 19th century people started to realise and accept their importance to a successful voyage), and a little bit on the battle against scurvy (mmm, citrus).
There was also a little bit on the development of Port Adelaide as a town, from initial settlement to eventual stagnation (the town’s a little more ‘rough and ready’ than Adelaide city proper).

Close by the museum was the lighthouse, which, via a narrow winding spiral staircase, was able to be climbed almost to the top, from where you could get good views across both the town and the immediate harbour area, which while quite interesting, doesn’t match the views from other upper viewpoints in other towns.

Obviously I also took the walk to the seaside; Semaphore has a very long pier/jetty that sticks out quite a way into the sea, at the end of which were several people fishing. There’s a whole host of regulations along the Australian coast as to what and how much of each type of fish you can catch, to ensure sustainable fishing.
I did also have fish and chips from one of the many chippies along the road to the beach, obviously.

The journey to Brisbane was uneventful – Adelaide airport is quite small and because it was an internal flight I was taking, no-one at any point asked for my passport/ID, which I always feel is quite odd.
I need to stop flying so much, not only is it relatively expensive, it also sort of flies in the face of the way I feel I should be travelling. That said, I already know I’ll have to fly from Brisbane to Darwin later in the month – the coach not only takes two days but is also about four times more expensive..

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