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.