Indian Pacific: Red Kangaroo or Gold Kangaroo?

We are travelling out of the endless Sydney suburbs. Out in the West there seems to be little of the flash cosmopolitan city and more of the dusty cramped bungalows and industrial sprawl. We are checking it all from the “Red Kangaroo” cars with the seats, not the bunks (i.e. we are in the cheap seats.)

Trains are great. They are the most interesting way to travel short of walking. They allow time to view, to sit back and let someone else get you there. Have you noticed: if you travel by car you always see into peoples front yards and their blank windows; from the train you always see into backyards, sidelots, strange offcuts of urban land invisible and unseen from any other angle.

On the advertising material for the Indian Pacific, the Red Kangaroo travel experience is one inhabited by virile twenty year olds in tight fitting jeans hanging out in the lounge car with a guitar. The Gold Kangaroo experience is advertised by models who look transported out of the 1940s, aged fifty, with gold jewellery and artificial tans. The reality is different. Red Kangaroo is a lot cheaper.

The Indian Pacific itself reminds me strangely enough of the former Southerner (for any South Islanders who remember), with a few added extras. Comfortable but dated with the ubiquitous teal and forest green decor.

The stewards are all old fashioned larrikins who have a pre-customer service attitude which involves them cracking jokes at passengers and making rambling announcements on the PA. This is much more fun and you can imagine that these characters would not be interested in the tipping system. Good for them.

Within five minutes, the antediluvian on-train video system has crackled into action with a top volume Bugs Bunny movie being repeated on about fifty screens suspended from the carriage roof. For those wishing to quietly contemplate the slow roll up the slopes of the Blue Mountains, tough luck! On a positive note, Jungle Boy (see previous post) seems to have relaxed and is no longer discussing weapons with visiting students from Osaka.

The sudden transition from hard edged working class suburbs to wooded valleys takes us by surprise though, and even Bugs Bunny at one hundred and forty decibels cannot distract us from the magic of night settling on the trees as we move further inland.

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