Friday 11 March: First reserving the last seat on Tuesday's Indian Pacific to Sydney I walk the two miles from Parklands interstate rail terminal to the city centre. I'm lucky to stay four nights in the YHA as this is the city's busiest weekend: Adelaide Fringe festival is being held throughout the city, the WOMAD (World of Music and Dance) festival is underway in Botanic Park and the Adelaide Cup runs on monday. After a quick look at the central market I take a stroll through in the pretty Botanic Garden wafted over by WOMAD music and flocks of squawking Sulphur-crested Cockatoos. I end the day quaffing various red wines and listening to an awful electric rock band in the Exeter Hotel.
Saturday 12: Following an interesting free tour of the Botanic Garden I spend most of the day relaxing and reading in the rose garden while listening to some very good music courtesy of the WOMAD festival just over the fence. Adjacent is the National Wine Centre which looks interesting but it's just closing as I get there, another time. Sunday 13: I primarily wanted to visit the South Australian Museum to see fossils of the Earth's earliest animal, a 550 million years old headed organism, first discovered in 1946 by Reg Sprigg in the Ediacara Hills, part of nearby Flinder's Range. In addition to seeing Spriggina I'm delighted to learn that Reg's discovery of Precambrian animal fossils has now led to a whole new geological period being created, the Ediacaran, unknown when I studied geology in the 1980s. There is also a large Ammonite fossil the size of a truck-tyre and beautiful Belemnites and other shelled-creatures fossilised by opal - not only an opal but also a fossil, priceless. The metal and mineral collections are also stunning, as is the Aboriginal gallery and the older style Pacific Islands gallery complete with decorated human heads from Papa New Guinea.
Monday 14: Walking along Rundel Mall past the Mall's balls and coins embedded in the paving slabs I find my way to the green belt with views of the city back across the river Torrens. The free city centre tram takes me south to see the fountains and statues of Victoria Square before dinner and an early night.
Tuesday 15: Vast wheatfields give way to sparse sheepland, above the rust-red sand, bright green from the recent rains. In the hills of Flinder's Range a pair of Emu sprint away from the rumbling train, but still no Kangaroos. We are running two-hours late so only stop briefly at Broken Hill, pity. As night falls I'm entertained by two Sydney guys in the dining car both working hard to dispel Monty Python spawned preconceptions of Australians (and I thought they were all called Bruce). We discuss the harsh state alcohol laws and I discover that 'pokies' are fruit machines and kangaroos are inactive during the heat of the day.
Wednesday 16: As dawn lights the western slopes of the misty Blue Mountains the Indian Pacific climbs to the line's summit before winding it's way down past the wooded sandstone crags of Lithgow and Katoomba, slowly downhill to the Sydney Basin.
Photos of Adelaide.