Thursday, February 22, 2007

Ben's Adventures in Sydney: Train and Shopping Day

After toying with the idea of going to the Blue Mountains, I realised that I had missed the most appropriate train to get there (it takes 2 hours so you have leave early-ish to get the most out of the day). So I went with plan B which was to begin with watching freight trains pass Canterbury Station. From what I have read on the internet, there is a steady stream of freight trains passing here throughout the day. I was not disappointed. In a little over an hour and a half I saw 8 trains on the goods lines. I took quite a few photos, and even photographed a few sparks in the downtime. It was good.

Getting a bit bored, I decided to move on. The other train related thing I wanted to do was ride on the Carlingford Line. This blue line on the Sydney rail map has always intrigued me. To get there I needed to get first to Lidcombe, which necessitated traveling thorough notorious suburbs such as Lakemba and Bankstown. Much to my surprise (when considering how this area is portrayed in the Media) there was hardly a Muslim extremist to be seen. Instead there were many people from any number of faiths and ethnicities. Once at Lidcombe I needed to find a train heading west that stopped at the junction station of Clyde, only two stops further on. Eventually one turned up after nearly half an hour and I was on my way.

Branching off the main western line at Clyde it off up into the hills terminating nowhere in particular (as I found out it starts nowhere in particular as well), when most lines in Sydney seem to go somewhere, or at least loop back on themselves. I wasn't disappointed however, as it passes through an area of Sydney I was totally unfamiliar with, the most notable highlight being Rosehill Racecourse. The frequency is appalling and I risked getting stranded for an hour getting out at Carlingford to take a photo of the train, luckily there was about a 5 minute turn around. I would compare it with the Alamein Line in Melbourne except that it's longer, has a worse service and appears to traverse less well-to-do suburbs.

Back at Clyde I decided to go to Paramatta, don't know why but it seemed the logical place to go when searching for food in that part of Sydney. I ended up in the Westfield Shopping Centre, but nothing in the basement level food court took my fancy at the time so I went seeking the other food court. This place is huge, it's got at least 5 levels (although they are all narrow and head in the same direction). I ended up wasting a few hours here. Upon re-emerging into daylight to get the train back to Sydney (an express to Gosford stopping at only Lidcombe and Strathfield) I discovered that the clouds had rolled in and it was raining. No complaints from me, it was refreshing.

Once back in town, I took some time to re-group in the hostel before heading over to Market City in Hay Market where I ended up buying some T-Shirts which subsequently got lost/stolen. Gunzel time again struck when I took some time to photo some Sydney trams/light rail. Becoming lazy I opted for a light dinner at Darling Harbour, before just vegging out on a step overlooking the water for an hour or so. Again I took the light rail back to the hostel, but decided to forgo the beer because I decided that tommorow was my last chance to go to the Blue Mountains before returning home.

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