Slowly things are getting back to normal. For myself I’m not making any overseas trips this year. It’s a sign of the times that even deciding to take a short trip to Adelaide seemed almost adventurous. I’ve been there several times, firstly in 2009, then in 2012 and 2013, in 2018 spending a few nights there at the end of a two night cruise from Melbourne, returning on the Overland train and in 2020 – my last pre-Covid interstate trip – spending the day there as part of a cruise.
This time I decided to take the Overland in both directions – for me the train rides would be as much part of the break as the stay in Adelaide. The service now only runs twice a week, Mondays and Fridays from Melbourne, Sundays and Thursdays from Adelaide. Being busy, I decided to go out on the Monday and return on the Thursday, giving me three nights, two full days there.
Monday dawned – an 0805 departure from Southern Cross station, just ten minutes walk from home, made for a relaxed start. Comfortably seated, we set off through the industrialised western suburbs. Breakfast served, lunch order (Malaysian curry for me) taken, and then I sat back to enjoy the ride. Past Geelong, having read Marcus Wong’s blog I looked out for Mount Elephant. And unhurriedly the day passed, the last bit of the journey through the Adelaide Hills, like the first but for different reasons, being the most interesting. After sitting for eleven hours I was happy to take a forty minute walk from the Keswick rail terminal into the CBD where the Holiday Inn Express was to be my base.
On the Tuesday, following a walk round the CBD, I went (surprise, not!) back to the National Railway Museum. I wrote about this in 2018 so won’t say much here other than to say that every time I see something new. Then back to the city for a tram ride to Glenelg beach for dinner.
Wednesday’s plan also involved visiting a museum – the National Motor Museum at Birdwood, about an hour’s drive from Adelaide. During my first four years in Melbourne I didn’t own a car, joining the Flexicar car share scheme instead. When I got my own car I decided to keep my Flexicar membership as an insurance policy. I was pleasantly surprised to find that they now operate in Adelaide, so a paperwork-free Corolla Hybrid was mine for the day.
The museum, Australia’s biggest motoring collection with a claimed 400 vehicles on display, didn’t disappoint. As well as cars, there were lots of motorcycles, commercial vehicles and all sorts of motoring-related ephemera.
Given that the museum is in South Australia, a bias towards Holdens wasn’t too surprising. Amongst those on display was the first Australia Holden, a 1948 48-215 and the one millionth Holden, a 1962 EJ.
It’s extraordinary to look at the displays and see how Holden grew to dominate the Australian car market, from producing its first car in 1948 to holding a 50% market share in 1958, only to see this progressively fall, with Toyota becoming Australia’s leading marque in 2003 and Holden producing their last car in Australia in 2017. The Holden name was used for imported GM cars until 2021, then dropped. All, sadly, a bit reminiscent of BMC’s one-time dominance turning to dust.
Several hours later I’d seen everything – well most things – so went across the road for lunch, then drove down to Hahndorf, a town in the Adelaide Hills established by German emigrants in 1838.
I went there in my first visit to Adelaide in 2009, so a revisit was in order. The German heritage is still evident: in particular there’s a shop that sells cuckoo clocks and Christmas decorations.
Then back to Adelaide for dinner and an early night – up at 0530 Thursday for the 0655 train back to Melbourne. Another relaxed day being well looked after by the Overland crew, then back to reality!