Riding on a Steam Train

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This old postcard comes from the early 1900s when our town was fairly young.

Steam trains always had a magical appeal to me in my childhood. I grew up alongside the railway yards that separated our railway station and my street. I loved the size of the big black engines spurting out their whooshes of steam and listening to their haunting whistle announcing their arrival and departure at the station. From my home I could hear the whistle and the creaking and groaning as the trains moved from stationary to activity.

We lived on the Main Trunk Line and the railway track ran through the centre of our town back then and so were a familiar sight to most people. Traffic came to a standstill and pedestrians stood and stared as they train moved in and out of the station carrying the passenger carriages behind them.

I couldn’t help wondering who those lucky people were, where they had come from and where they were going. I longed to have such an adventure myself.

I was ten years old before I came to ride on a train for the first time. As a treat once school holidays my mother took me on a train to visit my aunty in a nearby town. I remember very little about that trip, other than arriving at the station at the other end. It seemed so small compared with the big old wooden structure I was so familiar with.

That train trip not only satisfied my curiosity but also established my urge for adventure. There were many subsequent steam train journeys, and whilst they were never the height of travel comfort I never tired of the magic of travelling by train.

 

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Dreaming of the Ghan Railway, Australia

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Have you ever had a travel dream but haven’t had the courage to make the dream come true? I’ve learned that if you really want to do something, you should. Find a way to make that trip a reality.

I’ve always wanted to travel the Ghan railway in Australia, down through the desert heart of the country from north to south, Darwin to Adelaide. I’ve dreamed of seeing the red desert and the wide expansive environment. I’ve dreamed of seeing crocodiles and camels up close and learning more about Aborigine culture. I’m a rail travel fan and so this trip seems exactly right for me.

Just over a year ago I decided the time had come to make the trip, before I got too much older. My husband is no longer mobile enough to enjoy such an adventure, so I’ve chosen to make the trip alone.

For over a year now I’ve scrimped and saved and told everyone I know what I’m doing. Some friends think I’m crazy travelling alone at my age, but others do it so why shouldn’t I. I’m quite happy with my own company and at the same time I’ll be mixing with others.

July 2017, ten months out from the proposed journey, I booked the trip. Since then I’ve continued saving and read everything I could find and watched a diet of YouTube videos, all informing me about the Ghan railway. My husband laughs and asks why I’m making the trip when I know so much already!

Now the countdown is really on. As I write I have only 38 days until I start my journey, 41 days until I board the train.

Am I excited? You bet I am. And I’ve proved to myself I can make dreams come true.

Travelling through Postcards

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We may not always be able to travel to the places we’d like to, but there are more ways than one to travel. Of course we’ve all indulged arm chair travel – watching TV, reading and even internet – but have you ever considered exchanging postcards.

This used to be a popular hobby in the early 1900s and now people are returning to it, enjoying the pleasure choosing a card, writing a message and posting it, as well as finding colourful and interesting mail in their mail box.

A site that enables this to happen is https://www.postcrossing.com/ , a site dedicated to enabling people to exchange postcards through snail mail. Members send a postcard to a random address somewhere in the world, then that member registers it’s arrival, thus enabling the sender to then receive a postcard from another member in return.

Apart from the very simple site rule a member controls the level of their commitment – how many postcards they send how often and then receive in return. I’ve belonged a couple of years now and the list of countries I’ve received postcards from is too long to include here.

My world knowledge has expanded rapidly – places, people, customs, wildlife – and hopefully I’ve been able to increase people’s knowledge of New Zealand.

If you think you’d enjoy receiving postcards from around the world in your mail box, why don’t you give it a go.