Monday 22nd December
Our last day of the tour. The Overland
(from Adelaide to Melbourne – 828km) departs at 7.40am, and according
to our ticket, final check-in at Parklands Terminal is by 6.40am. So
we are up at 5am, giving us time to eat breakfast and the final
packing before catching the bus from just outside the hotel. We
aren’t the only passengers on the way to the train station – two
other passengers have suitcases and alight at the same stop. Inside
the terminal we join the small queue and get rid of our bags – both get a ”heavy” label attached. Ten minutes later the
queue has doubled in length and is out of the door. We have a bit of
a wait before we can get on the train, time for Claus to get some
photos and to check out our fellow passengers: the majority are
pensionists, the rest are of all ages and there are a few German and French
speaking tourists. This is the last train to Melbourne before
Christmas, and many are heading to Melbourne for Christmas with
family, judging by the many bags of wrapped gifts. One passenger has
her Santa hat on with flashing ”Merry Xmas” lights. The
carriage attendant gives us an explanation of the train, in
particular how the toilet locks. One must push a button to close the
door and then push another button to lock it. During the journey
there are many passengers who forget to lock the door whilst inside,
so luckily there is an elderly couple in the first row who are good
to warn the next toilet customer that it is occupied.

We depart on time and are soon heading
up into the Adelaide Hills, with short glimpses of the coastline to
our right before reaching the highest point on the journey: Mt.
Lofty. Many of the houses are built of large sandstone coloured
building blocks with wide verandahs to combat the heat. We stop at
Murray Bridge and Bordertown before crossing the border to Victoria,
and we have to set our watches forward by a half hour. The countryside is flat, this area is known as the “wheat belt” of Victoria.

At Horsham I catch up (very briefly)
with my old friends Bev and Greg, and they get to meet Claus for the
first time. Officially we aren’t allowed off the train if we are
travelling further, but I manage a short chat with them thru the open
door before the train pulls out. Now it’s time to check out the
dining options and we choose to share a serve of fish and chips and a
meatball baguette.

After Horsham we stop at Stawell and
Ararat before the train heads more to the south and stops in Geelong
North, then heads north to Melbourne. Just after leaving Geelong we
are informed that we might arrive twenty minutes early, but no, there
are a few delays and we arrive into Southern Cross station at the
scheduled time of 6.50pm. There is a queue to get luggage: all the
luggage is laid out on the platform and then a small number of
passengers are allowed in to collect their bags; when these
passengers have departed they let another group in and so on. A
sensible way considering the number of elderly passengers with
walking sticks or rollators. Once we get out our bags we head over
to the main concourse of the station to the suburban metro trains.
My brother has sent our myki travel cards to Darwin, so we scan on
and wait for the next Berwick train. 7.40pm and we board our last train and head out through the suburbs of Melbourne. It takes
just under an hour to reach Berwick, where my brother Keith and his
wife Lyma are waiting with cameras to catch us getting off our last
train. A fantastic tour has ended.