Cape York via Simpson Desert 19 June 2015 – Day 18

Saturday, Jun 20, 2015 at 17:56

Peter Beard (WA)

A proper day off to enjoy the delights of a trip on a train to Kuranda. Pure touristy stuff and a far cry from thumping over the desert or droning along the highway. R&R on a trip doesn't usually mean rest and recovery for Ali and Pete; more like repair (the car) and replenish (food stocks and spare parts).

We caught the train at Freshwater Station, taking Gold Class seats (you get fed and watered in Gold Class and have reasonably comfortable seats) for the incredibly beautiful, incredibly steep trip up the hills to Kuranda. A pair of huge diesel locos haul the tourist carriages through many tunnels and cuttings, over lots of bridges and past a couple sidings all built before the days of heavy machines and modern technology. The rainforest is a solid wall of trees, ferns and creepers from the edge of the track - occasionally thinning ranks enough to provide a glimpse of the ocean and city below or a breathtaking view of the Barron Gorge and waterfall. A true engineering feat to cut this track, driven by the need to provision tin and gold mines in the hills.

At Kuranda we took advantage of the free signal cabin tour - the last manually operating signal cabin in the country. It was a first for Ali, and a great reminisce for Pete who remembers the signal boxes at Welshpool and Claisebrook stations in Perth when working as a Junior Traffic Officer for the WA Government Railways in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

We took the walking track along the Barron River, through the jungle along the Jimrum Creek track and ended up in the pub for an afternoon of relaxation. The time on the ticket for the return journey said 15:50, fortunately we turned up early because the train left at 15:30. We just made it, the guard blowing the whistle as we scrambled on board. The waitress calmed our nerves with a glass of wine – well, several actually – and went to investigate the info on the ticket. Apparently 15:50 is when service is supposed to commence (although we got our drinks at 15:33). Probably be good to make that a little bit clearer on the tickets...

When we got back it was a leisurely evening at the pub overlooking Trinity Beach to perfectly finish a very relaxing day.


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