Monthly Archives: March 2024

Adelaide 2024

2024 started with two cruises, each of which included a visit to Adelaide.

Cruise one, January, on the Grand Princess, started and ended in Melbourne. Ports visited: Adelaide, Kangaroo Island and Port Lincoln in South Australia, then Phillip Island in Victoria.

My trips to Adelaide usually include – not to the surprise of anyone who knows me – a trip to the National Railway Museum at Port Adelaide, but not this time. Instead I took the train from Outer Harbour (next to where cruise ships dock) to Adelaide, then a second train to Belair, 21.5km south.

My interest in Belair goes back to seeing the station and park entrance from the Overland train on earlier trips to/from Adelaide. The railway line and Belair station opened in 1883. Following gauge conversion of one track in 1995 the Belair line is now effectively two parallel single-track lines: the Belair-Adelaide commuter line (still broad gauge, 1600mm) and the standard gauge (1435mm) freight line, also used by the twice-weekly Overland.

The Belair National Park opened in 1891 – the second national park in Australia after Sydney’s Royal Park – and soon up to 1,000 visitors were visiting on weekends and public holidays. In 1893 dedicated picnic trains to Belair station were introduced, met by horse-drawn trolleys to transport passengers into the park. Now of course most visitors arrive by car. For reasons of time, temperature (34C) and a desire not to get lost, my walk in the park went no further than the lake but I enjoyed my time there. Then back to the station and ship.

Cruise two, February, was on the magnificent Queen Mary 2, a ten-night cruise from Fremantle to Sydney. This was one leg of the QM2’s 2024 world cruise. Several hundred of my fellow passengers had joined the ship in New York and would be disembarking there 126 days later! Much too long for me, even if I were able to afford it.

As before I took the train to Adelaide. The station, rebuilt 1926-28, is a magnificent building and is currently being renovated. A short walk through the station leads to the Adelaide Parklands and River Torrens. As luck would have it, the pleasure cruiser Popeye was just about to leave for a sightseeing cruise up and down river so I went aboard. The first Popeye was launched in 1935 and was so popular that three new boats were built between 1948 and 1950. The third fleet, currently in service, was launched in the early 1980s. An interesting trip with an excellent commentary.

Then back to the train, this time breaking my journey at Port Adelaide for a short visit to the railway museum. With the temperature climbing to 35.7C (96F), I was glad of the shade afforded by the museum sheds. The big change from my previous visits is that a new Port Dock railway line is being built to the rear of the museum site, reinstating a line that was there from 1856-1981. The museum occupies the former goods yard. Then back to the ship and on to Melbourne and Sydney.

Given Australian geography affords a limited number of cruise destinations, I’m sure that another cruise will see me back in Adelaide before too long.

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