Sunday, September 21, 2014

A country journey

Last week we took a train trip to Warragul for lunch. Here, while R booked our tickets, I took a snap of the leadlight looking out at the main entrance of our principle suburban train station, Flinders Street.  Some of the lead light was damaged by protesting taxi drivers who occupied the major intersection outside the station. The glasswork seems to have been repaired. I did write something about the clocks that are visible, but I have decided to take some more photos and post separately about them


Our train departs Warragul Station after we alighted from a quite and comfortable and somewhat dozy journey. It is a Sprinter car, with the power system built into the carriage. While they aren't too bad, they are showing their age and obviously if you're sitting over the top of motors, they can be quite noisy, especially under hard acceleration. It is a classless train, that is no first class and no seat reservations.


A car and pedestrian ramp leads from the station onto the car bridge over the railway line you are quickly within the shopping and commercial area. But what is this new infrastructure? It seems like a very elaborate pedestrian ramp to the far side of the bridge where no one much goes.


Well, I am surprised.


Unlike the large coal mine and electricity generation towns further on into the Latrobe Valley, Warragul has a very prosperous feel to it, with its grand buildings built by gold mining profits and maintained by a financially comfortable farming and business community.


We walked along one of the shopping streets, eventually choosing a terrific cafe and delicatessen for our lunch. Let me check, yes it is called The Grange, and it was not expensive. After lunch we strolled up Victoria Street (note Dina, another Victoria Street) to Albert Street where this fine old church sits. I would have liked to have walked further, but R's back wasn't feeling too good and the hill was quite steep. "Where's this park? I can't see any park". Later he admitted the walking had done his back good.



An odd mix of trees in Albert Street.


Fine distant views of the rolling green and richly pastured grazing hills.


Civic Park is divine.


With some spare minutes until our train home, we sat in Mus Park next to the station. The old steam train that had sat there for so many years had gone. Later research indicates it has been taken to Noojee to become part of their historic railway display with possibly a restoration to running condition for $4 million. I can't see that money being easily found.

We had seen a bus load of old people pull into the station car park, apparently  retired railway workers who had been on an outing. There seemed to be an extra first class carriage attached, just for them. They were all quite jovial and full of jokes and good humour. The train was a few minutes late. More than once I heard, 'wouldn't have happened in our day'.

I crossed to the other side of the platform and look! That is where that bridge and walkway in the earlier photo leads to, a brand new bus interchange. And look, new train track, but rusted as it is clearly not used, yet.


To remove the electrical overhead system from the Gippsland line and replace electric trains with diesel trains was almost a criminal act. You can see what I think is called 'troughing' on the underside of the pedestrian bridge over the line where the wires use to sit. There are many reminders in place that it was once an electrified line, such as the concrete pads that held up the staunchions for the wires still being in place, and abandoned electric substations with their doors wide open.


Here comes our train to take us home. Unlike the Sprinter train with built in motors, this is a conventional train with a locomotive pulling carriages. R was using his senior citizen rail travel voucher. Travel up was free for him and by paying $4 he was upgraded to first class on the return journey. This train is known as The Gippslander, named for the region it services. It originates in Bairnsdale while most trains on the line originate closer by, in the town of Traralgon. It had a couple of economy class carriages and two first class carriages, although I think there is normally only one. If you haven't travelled first class on a train, do not imagine yourself in a sumptuous luxury with a waiter in black and white serving you drinks. First class travel is quite basic and very non Hercule Poirot. Maybe the only difference being the seats are swivelled so that the seats are always facing forward and there is plenty of leg room. It was busy and we could not book two seats together, but someone was sitting in my seat. As we weren't together and she was next to a friend, I just took her seat instead. The girl sitting next to me, with her mother and a friend across the aisle, did not want me to sit next to her and made it very plain. So she sat with her two young friends in front of me and so then R could sit with me.

Normally first class carriages are very quiet. Not so this one. The two women across the aisle spoke loudly to each other for the whole journey. Not to be outdone, two seats behind them was a bloke talking presumably to his wife, and he was louder than the two women. He did not stop for the whole journey either. Mobile phones rang, calls were taken, sms alerts sounded. Honestly, it would have been quieter in the economy carriage, I reckon.

Last time I caught the same train it was ten minutes late arriving at Flinders Street Station. This time it was twenty minutes late. It gets held up by suburban trains once it reaches the edge of the suburban system. I can't help but think if it arrived at the suburban system on time, there would be a timetabled slot for it to get a free run into the city. While the operator V Line will say the train was delayed by suburban trains, I am sure it would be much less delayed if the train arrived on time at the edge of the suburbs, and that is within V Line's control. There is no live tracking for the general public that I know of for our country trains, but I would put money on this train always being late. I would love to know if the 12.45 ex Bairnsdale is habitually late, suppose to arrive Flinders Street at 4.29.


20 comments:

  1. Andrew, fantastic trip. I love the glasswork and the clocks are so nice but in my point of view it it too many. I love the picture with palms so beautiful at these moments I would like to live in our climate. For me it is a paradise. You are a train lover I admire you!!! Greetings from rainy Europe

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    1. Ah Gosia, thanks, but wait for the full story of the clocks.

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    2. I know about the clocks....

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    3. River, yeah I reckon a good number of Australians do.

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  2. Despite the delays and the noisy passengers it does sound like a lovely outing. Trains have a real charm about them. Particularly the very noisy, dirty steam trains.

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    1. EC, it was just so relaxing. I did not take anything to read or listen to, just drowsily gazing out the window at the passing sights.

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  3. I've wondered that about first class. What if you pay the extra money, but then loud people do as well?

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    1. Dina, here it does not cost much extra to go first class, but then you don't get much extra either. Normally a first class carriage would be quiet. We were just unlucky that day.

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  4. I'm fond of train travel as to plane travel.
    The airport always stresses me but the train station I find restful, enjoyed the trip.
    Merle............

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  5. Another nice train ride with some pretty things to be seen.
    "Later, he admitted the walking had done his back good."
    I've always found that to be the case as well, as long as I'm not in a hurry. About an hour of gentle walking, not carrying or pushing anything, usually helps a lot.
    I think the days of first class quiet are over, what with mobile phones and tablets everywhere now.

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    1. River, an hour long walk is a decent time. But I agree, it helps. We have some quiet carriages on certain trains.

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  6. Sometimes you can (accidentally) come across really delightful country towns that still have their grand gold-funded buildings intact, gorgeous shops, Victorian banks not pulled down but re-purposed and spacious parks with war memorials and Edwardian bandstands. Love it!

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    1. Hels, I think Warragul remained intact because it had a stagnant period, and nothing saves history better than stagnations.

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  7. A great day kurt by all accounts. A train trip and a lovely little town to explore. Bad luck about the noisy people. We have "Quiet" carriages where people are not to have loud conversations or music playing devices but.............not all people take notice of the signs or else they can't read.

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    1. Diane, we have a few such carriages. But oh how I would like the Japanese, Malaysian and even English politeness of going to the space in between carriages to talk on a phone.

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  8. It looks like a beautiful place. Photo #5 with the shopping street facades could have been taken in small-town America somewhere. I love train travel.

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    1. Really Mitchell. America is about the same physical size as Australia, but so much more divers. I doubt I will ever see much of it beyond New York, which I quite like the look of. San Fran does not particularly appeal to me. I have heard it is full of 'different people'. I am not sure I care for such things.

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    2. Insert dropped 'e', without any double meaning.

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  9. What a very nice outing Andrew.. First class on the Eurostar was lovely :) must admit people who talk loudly in public places are a pain but I wonder if it coukd be because they have a hearing problem and don't realise they're doing it ?

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    1. Grace, brag away, if you must. I had a great uncle who was deaf, and he spoke loudly, but not as loudly as his wife so he could hear her.

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