All about the jour­ney

Australian Geographic - - From The Editor-in-chief -

YOU CAN hardly turn on the TV nowa­days with­out stum­bling across yet an­other celebrity-hosted travel se­ries. There seems, in par­tic­u­lar, to be a plethora of per­son­al­i­ties criss-cross­ing the globe by train, gush­ing about the ro­mance of steam or the role of rail­ways in forg­ing the economies of modern na­tions.

I con­fess to be­ing a fan of for­mer Bri­tish MP Michael Por­tillo’s rail­way se­ries on SBS. His pas­sion for the sub­ject is in­fec­tious (and his wardrobe choices en­ter­tain­ing) as he ex­plores the UK by train, clutch­ing his faded Vic­to­rian-era travel guide Brad­shaw’s Hand­book.

Long be­fore this pro­lif­er­a­tion of rail travel doc­u­men­taries there was a mile­stone BBC se­ries that set the bar for the genre – Great Rail­way Jour­neys of the World. Among the five episodes that were broad­cast back in 1980 was writer Michael Frayn’s jour­ney on Aus­tralia’s In­dian Pa­cific.

I knew lit­tle then about the coun­try I would come to call home and was cap­ti­vated by Frayn’s quirky com­men­tary on un­chang­ing arid land­scapes flash­ing past, which con­veyed the sheer scale of the Aus­tralian con­ti­nent.

The ca­ma­raderie of pas­sen­gers drink­ing beer and en­joy­ing hearty sin­ga­longs in the bar as the train rat­tled on was like no train jour­ney I had ever seen be­fore.

Back then, the In­dian Pa­cific was rightly re­garded as one of the world’s iconic rail jour­neys, and, al­most 40 years on, we packed Phil Jar­ratt off to see if this con­tin­ues to hold true and to see, while life only seems to gather mo­men­tum, who now chooses to travel at a leisurely pace across the na­tion.

Trains have been a hot potato in New­cas­tle in re­cent times with the con­tro­ver­sial re­moval of the train line that de­liv­ered pas­sen­gers right into the heart of the CBD.

For­mer res­i­dent Karen McGhee went back to see how the for­mer steel city’s af­ford­able life­style is at­tract­ing world-class tal­ent, which is help­ing drive re­newal based on in­no­va­tion in health and ed­u­ca­tion. She was ex­cited to see how the city is now em­brac­ing and cel­e­brat­ing its unique in­dus­trial wa­ter­front.

Fi­nally, don’t for­get to turn off your lights dur­ing Earth Hour on Satur­day 24 March at 8:30pm (and prefer­ably more of­ten and for much longer). Be­fore that, on Sun­day 4 March, if you are able, help clean up your neigh­bour­hood with the in­de­fati­ga­ble vol­un­teers of Clean Up Aus­tralia, one of our na­tion’s best ideas. See page 20.

Fol­low me on Twit­ter at: twit­ter.com/chris­sigoldrick

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On as­sign­ment in South Ge­or­gia, Antarc­tica, last year, shoot­ing one of the world’s largest pen­guin rook­eries.

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