Upcoming trip to outback Queensland on rails

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After a few days exploring what the region has to offer, it's all ended with a whimper. Due to a car/train collision somewhere south of Rockhampton - details are sketchy at the moment for me - just about every Queensland Railways' LD trains have major disruptions. The Spirit of the Outback (Brisbane-Longreach) is out if service, so my Monday departure will not happen as it isn't coming west to be turned around. The service after that is also cancelled, meaning there was no way out by train for at least a week.

I have to cut my losses and fly back to Brisbane to reconnect with the arrangements to get home. There is only one flight a day Longreach to Brisbane, and I'm on tomorrow's (Sunday). Monday's is already booked out, and Tuesday is too late for onward travel purposes. It was either that or an overnight Greyhound LD bus, but that was completely unappealing.

It's about an $800 hit to the travel budget, but it had to be done. I'll sort out refunds once I'm back home, but that's an insignificant issue compared to those involved either side of the collision, or passengers in the train at the time (somewhere around 0200h if I'm estimating correctly), and the emergency services attending, and so on.

I'm not sure I'll meet baggage provisions tomorrow - I packed for train travel, not air - but that's an issue for tomorrow :)

Anyway, I had fun on the ground in Longreach, including tonight when I had a crocodile entree which was really fine: done a bit like salt and pepper calamari, but much more tender. As we are in the lower reaches of croc country, I figured I should fight back. I'd also spent a day at the magnificent dinosaur exhibition near Winton - about 180kms up the road from here - and remembered crocs are very closely-related.

I'm calling it a day now, disappointed I'll miss the 1325k sleeper return, but happy I've had about 3200km on rails to get here, and that I still have another 1980k or so to go.
I’m now in Sydney after surviving the hastily-arranged flight to Brisbane, then the train to here. The sleeper service from Brisbane starts with a three-hour bus trip to the NSW town of Casino where the train is parked for the return to Sydney. However, rain had caused flooding and we were advised at Casino that we would meet the train about 100kms south at Grafton and would be bussed there :-(

This went smoothly and we boarded at Grafton and I hit my bunk. There were delays on the overnight ride which delayed our arrival in Sydney by more than an hour- no odds to me, but a bother for many who had onward connections.

My luggage safely stowed, I went on an adventure on Sydney public transport. One feature of this is the ferry service - an integral part of how Sydney works, but also a cornucopia for the visitor. I decided to take the ferry to Manly - a 30+ minute ride to the eastern end of the harbour and bypassing the heads into the open sea.

After a wee look around I decided on a place to feed me and that’s where I currently sit with a margarita almost gone and a mojito lined-up and a plate of fine food to keep me going.

On my travels I always like to be aware of whose Federal electorate I’m in and knew I was in Waringah - onetime seat of the lamentable ex-PM Tony Abbot, but now held by teal independent Zali Steggal, a result which should have (but didn’t) cause Abbot’s party a massive rethink.

So here we sit - about eight hours until my final sleeper train this trip!

The inbound Manly ferry passes by to our north near the heads


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For Oregon Pioneer:


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I’m now only about fourteen minutes from home after coming off the sleeper into Melbourne, and quickly boarding a waiting regional train for Ballarat.

There were some difficulties this trip, but the journey was fab. Do it if you can!
My apols for the gauchery of self-quoting, but I've returned to the dual-gauge shove-over. Just at the top of the pic you'll see what seems like a set of points, allowing a left turn - so perhaps it's connected to that. Is the engineering of points easier or safer with the double-rail on the inside of the turn rather than the outside of the turn? It'd be the outside rail of the turn which takes the greater lateral load, surely?

The shove-over seems to apply to just a few metres of track. I've have a look at the pic again and estimate that stretch is only about 20-30 metres. If I get a chance on my return through Southern Cross in about eight or nine days, I'll pace it out.

I did have a chance for a shufti on my return to Melbourne Southern Cross. The track feature is on Platform 2 where the Melbourne-Adelaide train was awaiting departure as I came in. After it left I paced the shuffle-over section at about 20 metres - maybe a chain in the old money - but was unrelated to where the Overland sat on the platform. Its passenger carriages spanned the shuffle-over with most if them having their platform-side wheel on the inner rail of the dual-track, and less than one on the single-rail section. The baggage car seemingly wasn't spotted to stand there, nor any other for special loading, so its purpose remains a mystery to me.
The Overland (Melbourne-Adelaide) sits awaiting departure on platform 2 to the right of pic, while the just-arrived overnight XPT (Sydney-Melbourne) is being readied for its daylight return on platform 1, pic left. Those platforms serve Southern Cross’s two dual-gauge lines - all others are Victoria’s broad gauge.


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