The railway related post for this blog post is available at my Jim’s Model Trains website.
In March 2020, I had 4 weeks of long service leave and as I still had a month or so left on a 6 month NSW Trainlink Discovery Pass I purchased last year, I decided to travel to various places to explore the big country of Australia. Before the country went into lockdown mode due to the Corona Virus pandemic, I was able to visit Port Melbourne (Vic), Melbourne (Vic), Sydney (NSW), Brisbane (Qld), Ipswich (Qld) and the Gold Coast (Qld), Binalong (NSW), Harden – Murrumburrah (NSW). This blog post is the non-railway related write up of those journeys.
On March 8th, I headed to Melbourne to attend a model railway exhibition. After I had finished there, I had some time to kill, so went for a trip out to Port Melbourne. There I saw the Spirit of Tasmania and Queen Marry II ships at the docks, and some other interesting things.
On the 9th of March I was in Sydney, as part of a trip to Brisbane, and had a few hours lay-over between train connections. To fill in that lay-over time, I visited Circular Quay. This is where there are a number of ferry departures, but is is probably most well known for being where the Sydney Opera House is located. I had never seen the Sydney Opera House up close before.
The next day, 10th March, I was in Brisbane. While there I visited the Gold Coast by train and light rail. The weather was pretty terrible, with low clouds, winds and rain but at least I can say I have now been to a Gold Coast beach. I had seen photos of how built up the Gold Coast is, but I don’t think I was quite prepared for exactly how much. There were skyscrapers everywhere. A veritable city by the beach!
After my visit lightning visit to the Gold Coast, I went back to Brisbane and explored the Roma Street Parklands. TThe Roma Street Parklands is a quite large parklands area, virtually in the Brisbane CBD. Even though there were glimpses of the city skyline, there were also lots of places were it is easy to think you are in the wilderness somewhere. There is even a jungle / rainforest area in the parklands, which I guess makes sense as Brisbane is the second closest to the equator in Australia.
On the 11th March, I visited Ipswich, an outer western suburb of Brisbane, specifically to visit the railway museum there. But I also saw plenty of non-railway related scenery, including a view of parkland by the river. Initially, I was quite surprised at how green and lush everything was in Brisbane and the surrounding area. But then after I thought about it, I realised that rainfall in the Brisbane area is probably generally higher than where I live. And it was a more constantly humid than many other places I have been over the years.
Between the 16th and 18th of March I visited some places closer to home. The first one was Binalong in NSW. I had wanted to visit there for a while mainly to explore around the railway station, but once there I realised that there was a lot more of interest than just the railway stuff. For example, Binalong was the boyhood of home of Andrew Barton (‘Banjo’) Patterson. In the cemetery, Banjo Paterson’s father’s headstone is still extant. The town was also the last resting place of John Gilbert, a bushranger. There are also a lot of old buildings in Binalong which makes it quite interesting from the person interested in historical buildings.
John Gilbert’s grave, and the grave of Banjo Paterson’s father, Andrew Bogle Paterson, are a bit of a walk from the central part of Binalong, but well worth the effort to walk to them.
After Binalong, I visited Harden Murrumburrah NSW. Harden is where I stayed, at the Carrington Hotel near the railway station. While there I went for a walk to Murrumburrah, specifically to look for what I thought would be the railway station there. Alas, no station was found, but I did find some interesting old buildings on my walk in both Murrumburrah and HArden.
After I arrived home from Harden on the 18th March, the Corona Virus was becoming a major concern for governments in Australia and with increasing stages of ‘lockdown’ it became less likely that I could do any further travel.