Cross-Country

Aboard a sealed up passenger train, once the sun sets, you might as well be on a flight. The only view, since maybe Goulburn, has been the lights of approaching towns on the railway and the occasional view of a waning moon to the east, barely strong enough to penetrate the reflection of the interior lights.

I’ve been in transit for eleven hours. We should be pulling in to Sydney right now, but a derailed freight train at Junee meant we had to be bussed around the obstruction, to the southbound compatriot of this route at Cootamundra, as its residents did the same to the northbound. One day, two trains, twelve total hours before I’m back in the arms of urban life. Saving coin comes with the odd sacrifice.

I’ve been a city boy my whole life. The pace, proper coffee and diversity of experience make the country a spot of reconciliation with nature, a place to move through, and little more. The romanticism, and cheap real estate, aren’t enough to conquer the lack of pace. But Victoria and New South Wales were colonised as farming destinations, even despite the average fecundity of the interior. The sheer number of tiny, dying towns on this train route, their unused grain elevators and rotting loading platforms dangling rusted booms, evidenced this. The pace of the decline, and a sense of origin, are much more obvious from this antique vantage point.

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