Wednesday, 5 August 2015


“There’s something about the sound of a train that's very romantic and nostalgic and hopeful.” - Paul Simon

This week’s Poets United Mid-Week Motif is “Saying the Names With Love”, a thematic tribute to the names of the places we love. Let me take you with my poem on a great train journey across Australia.

The Indian Pacific is an Australian passenger rail service that operates between Sydney, on the Pacific Ocean, and Perth, on the Indian Ocean. It is one of the few truly transcontinental trains in the world. The train first ran in February 1970 after the completion of gauge conversion projects in South and Western Australia. The train’s route includes the world’s longest straight stretch of railway track, a 478-kilometre (297 mi) stretch of the Trans-Australian Railway over the Nullarbor Plain.

The service was originally operated jointly by the New South Wales Government Railways, South Australian Railways, Commonwealth Railways and Western Australian Government Railways, until February 1993 when Australian National took full ownership. In October 1997 the Indian Pacific was sold to Great Southern Rail. A one-way trip originally took 75 hours, but with line and efficiency improvements it now takes 65 hours. The train currently has four classes, branded as Platinum, Gold Service and Red Service Sleeper and Red Service Daynighter and also a motorail service to convey passengers’ motor vehicles.

Train Ticket

My birthday gift came in an envelope –
Thick, creamy paper, hand-addressed –
Stout enough to enclose sheaves of printed matter;
No sender’s name, a fascinating mystery…

Intrigued, I open carefully to find within:
A train ticket and an itinerary –
Sydney to Perth, transcontinental,
On the Indian Pacific…

The sender knows me well, I think,
And makes my fervent wish, reality –
A train journey of thousands of miles
Across this great wide land of ours.

From Sydney, the Harbour City,
Westward through the green, fertile valleys
Of New South Wales, beyond the rolling hills
And distant mountains of Condobolin,

To the rugged Outback,
And the lavishly painted desert, red earth
And rich ore-hearted, rocky outcrops
Of silver encrusted, Broken Hill…

Then South, to the city of churches:
Adelaide, beside the River Torrens,
And close enough to the Barossa Valley
To grow tipsy on sunny Summer afternoons.

From Crystal Brook, going North,
To Port Augusta, a hub of industry and trade,
Close to the violet-tinged Flinders Ranges,
And the wild beauty of Arkaroola and Pichi Richi.

Then West, again through Cook,
And the straightest, longest stretch
Of railroad track, the world over,
Three hundred miles across the arid Nullarbor.

To Kalgoorlie, golden city of mines,
Elegant, stately and forlorn amongst the rocks –
The racecourse, grand old hotels and the Skimpies,
Recalling a rowdy past and miners’ boisterous antics.

And then on the last leg of the journey,
To cosmopolitan Perth, the jewel of the West,
A city of parks and rivers, sandy beaches, hills
And bustling city life and skyscrapers.

A journey, a gift, and an expectation,
Who else could have given me this, but you?
At end of the journey my greater gift awaits;
Taking the slow suburban train to Fremantle,
I know you will be there to greet me
At our old rendezvous point up on the Round House…


  1. Oh how I love this journey! The wonder of receiving suck a ticket! Wow.....from my reading, I recognize many of the place names and it was lovely to read them, rolling down the page, so full of mystique and intrigue and sheer beauty. Thanks so much. This was a delight to read.

  2. What a wonderful gift...a thousand memories in one ticket.

  3. I loved this train journey. So beautifully written with a delightful flow of words. It made me nostalgic about a train journey.

  4. This is such a wonderful train journey :D it feels like a gift.. thanks for sharing this with us all :D

  5. What a wonderful train journey that would be, Nick. I love Sydney. I think that is the only city on your journey that I visited. I have always yearned for a train adventure, but alas - it seems that traveling by train is now more expensive than traveling by plane. Your poem had a bit of romance....of the best kind. I envy you this trip.

  6. What a wonderful poem about this epic journey! Loved the trip and the wonderful places you described!

  7. Nice poem and I really liked the rendezvous of the last stanza...

  8. How wonderful! I have done these journeys, but by car. And I so love train travel, I can well imagine what enjoyment this must have been.

  9. wonder of wonders was the ticket for this amazing train journey..."A journey, a gift, and an expectation," so it was...and a perfect end...

  10. What a great account of the "Indian-Pacific" journey. As a young man in the 1960's I worked on the South Australian Railways portion of the line supervising the building of some of the infrastructure between Broken Hill in NSW and Port Pirie in South Australia. What an education this was for me to live and work there whilst this major project was being completed.

  11. Delightful poem, I really enjoyed this journey....

  12. What a delightful trip! It must have been wonderful for you. And how nice to know such a loving giver.

  13. I am a passionate luxury train traveller and intend, before I die, to go on every such trip around the world. Sofar I have happily covered, Australia, Canada, parts of the USA, France, Spain, Scotland, India etc :)

    But only for 3 days maximum. In places like China and Russia, what do people do to keep their minds amused over long periods on board?

  14. At the end of any great journey is the joy of coming home - and being reunited with the people we love - beautiful

  15. That sounds like a trip I would love.

  16. Both scenic and romantic. A lovely composition
    Much love...