Don't you love a train that still goes clackety clack clackety clack? The Indian Pacific may not make that precise sound but it does make noise and that's one of the things I loved about it. Japan's Kawasaki company may be developing a new fast train to criss-cross the tiny country at a super-speedy 350 km per hour, but in this colossal place that is Australia travellers' seem to like that the Indian Pacific averages just 85 km an hour and takes three days to traverse this vast space. Indeed the slow pace is an intrinsic part of the appeal of the Indian Pacific's 4,352 km journey. As well as reflecting a growing global trend toward slow travel and a more general desire to slow down and enjoy the simple things in life more (one of the most popular activities among guests socializing in the Platinum lounge on the Indian Pacific was board games and cards), I think it also reflects a need by travellers (both Australian and foreign) to fully grasp the immensity of Australia and understand just how wide its wide open spaces are. Something you wouldn't properly appreciate if you whizzed through it all at 300km per hour in a day or so and the majestic scenery outside was merely a blur. While Kawasaki's press statement boasts that their new train will be super-quiet, I think I'd miss those familiar train sounds of metal against metal, the grinding on the tracks, the occasional screeches, the increase in volume as you step from one carriage into another, and all of it punctuated by an eery silence (spookiest in the velvety black of the night) when the train stops to wait for a freight train to pass by. To me, train noise is the ideal soundtrack to the endless tracking shots of epic landscapes that roll by the window on a train trip in Australia.
Another thing I loved about Platinum service was the ability to see out the windows on both sides of the train from within our cabin. Our window out to the corridor was aligned with the window on the other side of the train so as to enable some serious scenery absorption. That, combined with the slow pace and clackety-clack soundtrack was very conducive to some wonderful train-dreaming.
Pictured? A view of the Western Australian wheatbelt a few hours out of Perth through the wooden blinds from our window. The blinds did go up, by the way. I just loved looking at the landscapes through the horizontal lines.