Monday, September 25, 2017


Macedon Ranges. Photo: Julie Clarke (c) 2017
I woke at 4am yesterday morning and after looking at the Victorian Train network map I decided to go to Castlemaine continuing my own Great Regional Train Journey. I caught the 9am train at Southern Cross station after organizing my paper ticket and locating Platform 15, which is located up two sets of steep escalators from the concourse and then down one steep escalator. I mention this because I find those escalators rather intimidating because of my balance issue and so, after hesitating I reminded myself not to overthink the whole process and managed to get down to the platform and alight the waiting train. It was an hour and a half journey, but there were no first class seats and so they weren't as comfortable as those on my return trip from Morwell last Thursday. The train was crowded, still, I had an interesting conversation with a young man who is the other half of an Australian/American podcast called Quantum Theory. We discussed of all things, magic and science fiction and he took notes and the train rolled on.
I began to settle into the journey when we passed through the Macedon Ranges and figured that the 550 ft altitude, as opposed to the ten times lesser altitude of Melbourne was what was causing my ears to pop. I love the rolling hills which were a backdrop for much of the journey as a misty grey blue presence behind the trees. I arrived in Castlemaine at around 10.30. I saw many historic houses, the Town Hall, old Theatre, Market House, the park, the library and information centre and noticed that many new shops actually occupied old buildings. I really enjoyed the Castlemaine Art Gallery and Museum, which had a beautiful permanent collection of 19th century and early 20th Century Australian art. My favourites were the Jeffrey Smart 'Hide and Seek' and E. Philliips Fox 'Bathing Hour'. However, as I looked at the hundreds of objects in the Museum downstairs I thought it a strange time capsule of the history of the area, almost alien, remnants of a different civilization.
I realised I hadn't checked the timetable for my return trip so went back to the station to enquire. The train sitting there was still waiting for the driver to arrive from Bendigo and the station officer suggested rather than catch the later train I should run quickly towards the park and into the underpass to catch this train because they were unsure when the next scheduled one would depart. After boarding the train we had another ten minute wait for the driver who was welcomed with a loud applause from the passengers when he arrived. I noticed the train was travelling considerably faster than any other train I'd taken over the past few weeks and was advised by the conductor that it was the VLocity train, which travells at 160 km per hour. I arrived back at Southern Cross station at 3pm after a speedy express journey from Sunbury. Castlemaine is a beautiful little town (very quiet and sleepy, but it was Sunday) and well worth a visit.
Melbourne city skyline. Photo: Julie Clarke (c) 2017

As I photographed part of Melbourne's skyline through the train's window as it approached Southern Cross station at the end of my journey I considered the contrast. Mountains had given way to the city's glass and steel sentinals rising as artificial vertical and horizontal ranges across the etheral blue.

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