Melbourne to Brisbane by train for the Matildas

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The FIFA Women’s World Cup is in full swing and this lucky lit­tle bug­ger has tick­ets to the Aus­tralia vs. Nige­ria match in Bris­bane on 27 July. To make a real jour­ney out of it, I decid­ed to opt for the overnight XPT train from Mel­bourne, via Syd­ney, to Bris­bane instead of flying.

I’ve nev­er trav­elled in a sleep­er car­riage on the train before. I took the train home from Ade­laide in 2019 but that was a day trip. I real­ly want­ed to try it and this was the per­fect occa­sion. I had the time to get to Queens­land (2 day jour­ney) and I was able to secure a sleep­er berth on both ser­vices (Mel­bourne to Syd­ney; Syd­ney to Bris­bane). I shared the sleep­er cab­in last night with a young uni stu­dent named Dami­an, who was trav­el­ling home hav­ing caught the train down to Mel­bourne a few days ear­li­er. His rea­son for tak­ing the train was because he real­ly loves trains, and pub­lic trans­port. He was a nice guy, but quite talk­a­tive, espe­cial­ly about his pas­sion­ate inter­est in trains 🤣 so con­sid­er­ing this week’s trip is part­ly a bit of respite from care­giv­ing I found it slight­ly chal­leng­ing to keep up the chit-chat for the whole journey.

Oth­er­wise the jour­ney was pleas­ant, relax­ing and I real­ly enjoyed it. I watched some Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, and read my book (cur­rent­ly Flawed Hero by Chris Mas­ters, about the Ben Roberts-Smith war crimes defama­tion case against Mas­ters and Nick McKen­zie, who wrote a sim­i­lar and thrilling-to-read book about the case called Cross­ing The Line, which I recent­ly fin­ished). There was a can­teen in the mid­dle car­riage which served hot drinks and snacks, the staff were all friend­ly and help­ful, and I real­ly felt like my lit­tle work­ing hol­i­day had already start­ed before I even get to Queensland.

I’m writ­ing this now sit­ting at Cen­tral Sta­tion in Syd­ney. We left last night at about 20:00, and arrived this morn­ing at 08:00. I had about 6.5 hours to kill before catch­ing the 14:45 to Bris­bane, which should get there about 05:00 tomor­row morning.

I left my heavy suit­case at Cen­tral in the bag­gage stor­age area and roamed down towards Hay­mar­ket, and then to the Ian Thor­pe Aquat­ic Cen­tre to have a sneaky show­er. There are show­ers in the sleep­er car­riage of the train, but I wasn’t game last night so opt­ed for the aquat­ic cen­tre instead, which only cost me $4 entry. It’s a nice lit­tle trick Danielle and I often utilise when trav­el­ling through towns where we don’t have accom­mo­da­tion, as leisure cen­tres offer a nice hot show­er and some­where to shave for a tiny frac­tion of the price of a motel room.

Walk­ing out the aquat­ic cen­tre a fresh, new man I wan­dered down towards Dar­ling Har­bour and had some break­fast at Adria Bar, which was absolute­ly awful. The cof­fee man­aged to be both bland _and_ burnt, whilst the bacon and eggs weren’t thor­ough­ly cooked but the toast they were sit­ting on was burnt sol­id. I wasn’t going to say any­thing but the bill came to $44, and then the man asked me, so I gave him the bru­tal­ly hon­est truth 😂.

From Dar­ling Har­bour I walked around to Cir­cu­lar Quay/The Rocks, checked out the George Street mar­kets and then took the train back to Cen­tral. I bought myself a birth­day cig­ar at Mar­ket City in Hay­mar­ket and checked out Paddy’s Mar­ket, then head­ed back to Cen­tral Sta­tion again and checked my lug­gage in, sat on the plat­form for a few hours and just basked in the warm sunshine.

It’s been a fun trip so far. I have a sleep­er cab­in on both legs of the trip, and although I shared last night I have this leg all to myself (so far: fin­gers crossed for no late bookings! 🤞🏻).

Arriving in Brisbane: Sunday 23 July

Last night’s jour­ney was far more com­fort­able. I enjoyed my sleep­er cab­in all to myself, got some good shut­eye, and feel thor­ough­ly relaxed. Of course the extra time in the jour­ney is always going to be a fac­tor, but I would elect to trav­el that way again over a flight in a heart­beat! Being able to stretch my legs, walk around, lay down and sleep, and just have some time to myself was pure bliss!

I arrived into Brisbane’s Roma Street Sta­tion this morn­ing at 05:00! I head­ed to the hotel only to find they didn’t open until 09:00. How was I going to occu­py 4 hours? By going fish­ing of course! 🤣

I walked down to the Bris­bane Riv­er and climbed down from the bicy­cle path­way to some rocks, and hid my suit­case and bags under the path­way out of sight. I wasn’t leav­ing them, but with my back turned I’m always a lit­tle ner­vous about theft. I set up my trav­el rod and gear and cast some plas­tics, and some met­al spoons. I caught a whop­ping dusky flat­head, my PB by a large mar­gin: he would have gone 70–80 cen­time­tres at least. I had left my land­ing net in the suit­case though, so after fight­ing him a fair bit I tried drag­ging him up on to the rocks to let him go, but he snapped off and took off before I could get the lure out of his mouth or get a pho­to. A very nice wel­come to Bris­bane, anyway…

I packed up after a few hours and vis­it­ed a farm­ers’ mar­ket just up the road, got some nice pro­duce for cook­ing dur­ing the week and took a taxi back to the hotel, where I’ve left my bags and come to a café called Coco Cozy to while away some time wait­ing for check-in. An old friend is going to take me to a nice Japan­ese gar­den near­by, so I’ll go do that before check­ing in lat­er today.