From Perth on the Indian-Pacific
After finishing our tour of the Margaret River region we headed back to Perth:
Perth really is a nice city. Lots of parks, well laid out and easy to get around, the traffic isn’t too bad, and the airport is conveniently located near the city. The pleasant Swan River runs through the city and beaches on the Indian Ocean are nearby. Really the only thing that Perth doesn’t have compared to Sydney or Melbourne is the historical buildings. It seems like mostly everything in Perth is brand new due to the mineral boom in Western Australia bringing much money to the Western Australia capitol of Perth.
Probably the most unusual thing about Perth is the fact that it is there to begin with. The city is literally thousands of miles from anywhere. The nearest major Australian city is Adelaide which lies over 2,000 miles away. Perth is actually closer to Jakarta, Indonesia than it is to the Australian capitol of Canberra. Perth is nearly closer to India than to Sydney on the opposite side of the continent. Perth holds a population of 1.5 million people which is nearly the entire population of the state of Western Australia. Western Australia has a total population of 2 million people, which means that in a state the size of five Texas’s, only 500,000 people live outside the capitol. After spending over two weeks driving around Western Australia I definitely believed it.
Anyway we turned in our campervan at the Britz dealership near the airport and then stayed the night at a hotel in Perth. The next morning we had to wake up early to catch the morning Indian-Pacific train back to Adelaide. We had a taxi take us to the train station. Train stations in Australia are usually older historic buildings, the best example of this being the Flinders Street Station in Melbourne.
However, in Perth the train station where you board the Indian-Pacific has to be by far the gaudiest train station I had ever seen. When the cab driver stopped I asked him if he had taken us to the local KGB headquarters because that is what the East Perth Railway Station looked like. It was an ugly drab gray building with antennas sticking out of it:
Could there possibly be a more uglier major train station in all of Australia than the East Perth Railway Station? I sure haven’t seen one. Anyway inside the train station they did have a nice little historical display about the early railway history of Perth including an old railway car:
When it came time to board the train my wife and I were quite surprised by how busy the Indian-Pacific was. The train was nearly packed by the time we left the East Perth terminal:
Fortunately the scenery improved quite a bit once the train pulled out of the terminal. About 45 minutes east of Perth the train began to travel through the Darling Ranges. The ranges features rounded, heavily forested hills with numerous creeks running down the hillsides. It was obviously difficult to take pictures through glass of the country side in a moving train but I was able to get a few decent shots during the train journey. Here was my best shot of the Darling Ranges:
However, after about another 45 minutes of traveling through the mountains the scenery turned back into this:
We had entered back into the Australian wheat belt again. It didn’t take to long before the train was swallowed up by the salt plains again as well:
My wife and I were sitting in the dining car eating dinner and we were talking to some Aussie tourists also eating dinner and they were wondering what the white sand was. I told them that it wasn’t sand, but really salt and then proceeded to tell them how the environmental damage caused by the deforestation of the country is producing these salt plains that are destroying the land. They had never heard of this, which I found incredible since I find this to be a huge environmental issue that Australia is facing and yet Australians know little about this problem. This is an environmental crisis that is tangibly visible and causing massive eco-system damage now, yet people are more concerned about global warming or better yet something that has nothing to do with the environment in Australia, Japanese whaling.
After dinner we sat down in the lounge car and continued to watch the salt planes and salt lakes pass. It was interesting to over hear all the people talking about how beautiful the white sand and lakes outside their windows were:
You can’t tell from this picture, but this salt lake actually went on for miles. It was by far the largest salt lake I saw in Western Australia. So many people were excited by the scenery, I was depressed by it.
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