Good name for a railway station. Thanks Ann.
Of course I could have just asked the blog world, or even asked at the station, but that is just too easy. I wanted to find the platform at Southern Cross Station where the train to Sydney leaves and departs, only because I was annoyed that it was not obvious to me when I looked.
I surveyed the station from the Bourke Street walkway. I established it was not a platform on the western side of the station where the metropolitan platforms are located.
But none of the country platforms seemed to fit the bill. I read every indicator on each platform nothing.
I took a break to think and bought a sandwich. I watched a couple of country trains arrive and depart as I et. A lad walked past smoking. I don't think that is allowed but gosh I would laughed if someone challenged him. Naughty lad smoking amid the thick diesel fumes from the idling trains.
I was at ground level where the country trains arrive and depart. I checked the platforms. What? They start at Platform 2? Where is 1? Ah, an arrow pointing to Platform 1. I walked along Platform 2 in the direction of the arrow and there was a strange looking train sitting at Platform 1, which may well have been the Sydney train. I looked down at the tracks and the puzzle was solved. It was a double gauge track as you can see in the photo.
The mess that started in the 1800s when railways were first built in Australia continues to have a strong effect.
While New South Wales built standard gauge lines, 4'8 1/2" or 1435mm, Victoria went for Irish broad gauge lines, 5'3" or 1600mm. Our suburban and our country trains are broad gauge so for many years to travel by train to Sydney required a change of trains at Albury. I believe it was in the early 1960s that dual gauge tracks were laid from Melbourne to Albury and a change of trains in the middle of night at Albury was no longer necessary for travellers.
As in many areas, NSW prevailed and interstate train lines are all standard gauge.
Just as an aside, and to indicate what a mess it all is, NSW standard gauge, Victoria broad gauge, Queensland, Western Australia and Tasmania, Narrow Cape gauge with South Australia opting for both Cape gauge and Broad gauge. (yes, I realise there is an issue with capital letters. I'll let you log in and fix it all if it really troubles you)
You might not be surprised to hear that Australia has the most operating different gauges in the world. I have heard a figure of 24, which would include trains such as Puffing Billy and cane trains and other very minor lines. One line was even triple gauge for a time.
Now to get back on track, pun fully intended, the Sydney train leaves from Platform 1 at So Cross Station and it seems so does the Bacchus Marsh train, trains with different width gaps between their wheels, accommodated by dual gauge.
I spied a chemist at So Cross Station and I needed something a product that chemists sell at usurious prices and as I headed towards the chemist, I saw a V Line ticket office. I went in and asked which platform the Sydney train leaves from and the lass told me that it normally left from Platform 1, so that confirmed my investigation. Then I became more puzzled because the way she said it, indicated that it could leave from another platform. Nah, I just ain't gonna bother.
Which reminds me of something I mentioned to R the other day (I am just so not going to stop writing am I). For my whole life the word pharmacist and pharmacy has been around in the written form, but I have never heard anyone say that they are going to the pharmacy or to see the pharmacist. We only ever say chemist. Correct me if you will.
From So Cross Station I went down Spencer Street and noted that there is so much cheap accommodation along the street. I can't recall the name of the hotel, the one within the old railway administration building that is now apartments and a hotel, but I stopped to direct some Asian tourists who were trying to get into an entrance to the hotel that was clearly for only for guests who had already checked in. The main entrance is on the southern side of the building.
It wasn't too hard to find the new Police Museum. The old one was very small and very cramped. It is now an excellent Museum and I highly recommend it. I found the audio recordings especially interesting, police radio recordings of the Russell Street bombing and the Canberra bush fires of a few years ago.
The dual gauge at Platform 1.
Just a general shot of Southern Cross Station.