Cruis­ing, on the rails

an­other year of vol­un­teer-driven travel, but on the rails down un­der

Standard-Freeholder (Cornwall) - - LOCAL NEWS - HUGO RO­DRIGUES

I had an op­por­tu­nity to cross the aus­tralian con­ti­nent in a dif­fer­ent way in no­vem­ber.

on nov. 28, I boarded The Ghan, a long-dis­tance all-in­clu­sive rail jour­ney that lasted three days and two nights as it chugged through the mid­dle of the con­ti­nent.

It wasn’t ini­tially in the plans, but was a de­light­ful night­cap of sorts on 2018.

when the year be­gan, I al­ready knew I would be re­turn­ing to aus­tralia in the fall. as read­ers with long mem­o­ries and an in­ter­est would know, I vol­un­teer at the world life­sav­ing Cham­pi­onships when they are held ev­ery other year.

The south aus­tralian City of ade­laide – more specif­i­cally its sub­urbs of hold­fast Bay, Glenelg and Mar­ion – hosted the In­ter­na­tional life sav­ing Fed­er­a­tion’s 2018 world life­sav­ing Cham­pi­onships for the se­cond time. The re­gion had hosted this event be­fore in 2012, pro­vid­ing my ex­cuse to visit aus­tralia for the first time.

with the dis­tance and travel time to reach aus­tralia, and hav­ing learned that vol­un­teer­ing for 10 to 12 hours a day for 16 days of your 21-day va­ca­tion isn’t too re­lax­ing, this so­journ to the great south­ern con­ti­nent was built with some travel time in mind.

hav­ing seen an episode of a dis­cov­ery Chan­nel Canada se­ries on the Ghan, it be­came an op­tion. The train it­self will cel­e­brate its cen­ten­nial in 2019, af­ter the first car­riages made the per­ilous jour­ney north from ade­laide that year. It would be sev­eral decades be­fore the rail line was com­plete and de­pend­able, link­ing the south aus­tralian city with dar­win at the con­ti­nent’s north­ern edge.

The Ghan name it­self comes from the afghanistan work­ers who were brought to aus­tralia in the colo­nial 19th and early 20th cen­turies to do the back­break­ing work many res­i­dents of British ori­gins wouldn’t do. They, and their camels, are the rea­son the rail line was laid down, and also played a role in the first tele­graph line through the con­ti­nent that would pro­vide a link through asia, the Mid­dle east and europe, to Mother eng­land.

sev­eral things struck me while on the so­journ— first, what a great way to travel. se­cond, it was a kin to cruise in a num­ber of ways, most vis­i­bly how I was among the youngest per­son on the train at the sprightly age of 41.

The ex­cur­sion to nit­miluk Gorge (Kather­ine gorge) showed me once again that when it comes to the recog­ni­tionele­ment of rec­on­cil­i­a­tion with Indige­nous peo­ples, we Cana­di­ans could learn many things from our Com­mon­wealth cousins. aside places be­ing re­named, those guid­ing us through the gul­lies in­cluded Indige­nous peo­ple and their his­tory of this place.

Be­yond the train, I had no­ticed these recog­ni­tions else­where too. aside land recog­ni­tion, which was a stan­dard back in 2012, rep­re­sen­ta­tives of Indige­nous com­mu­ni­ties were rou­tinely in­cluded to of­fer wel­comes along­side other dig­ni­taries such as may­ors and pre­miers. Flags rep­re­sent­ing the Indige­nous peo­ple are­al­soflown­to­geth­er­with­state­and the aus­tralian na­tional flag.

all sym­bolic prac­tices, but still more than what is done through­out most of Canada.

an­other take­away was the school over the air that was part of the Ghan ex­pe­ri­ence. a con­cept used in aus­tralia and else­where, it con­nects stu­dents whose fam­i­lies live in re­motear­eas–thin­klive­stock­ranch­ers miles away from any­thing else – with­out schools, but be­ing schooled with the as­sis­tance of a home tu­tor (mom, dad or a care­taker).

when­founded,thes­tu­dentswould re­ceive read­ings and other ma­te­ri­als in mailed pouches and send back their as­sign­ments the same way. They’d con­nect with teach­ers for lessons via ra­dio. To­day, a com­puter with in­ter­net con­nec­tiv­ity, web cam­era, speak­ers and a mi­cro­phone al­low­stu­dentsto­con­nectwith­teach­ers and lessons on­line.

Thiss­chool­fas­ci­nat­edme,par­tic­u­larly its po­ten­tial ap­pli­ca­tions in our coun­try.

whatwillthenextworldlife­sav­ing Cham­pi­onship­sop­por­tu­ni­ty­bring?I can’tpre­dict,butI­do­knowtheevent re­turns to aus­tralia’s Gold Coast in 2024, and by then there’ll be a new train ex­cur­sion avail­able that runs from ade­laide to Bris­bane.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.