Sal saved her whole life for this one trip,’ said my newfound train companion.
Jill, a 65-year-old woman from Victoria, Australia, had, like me and Sal, boarded the Indian Pacific to make the 4,000-odd kilometre trip cross-country.
‘She got on at Sydney, got off at Perth and took the next flight back to Sydney. She fulfilled a lifelong ambition and was very happy,’ said Jill.
I couldn’t help but feel a little sad for Sal though. There was I, at just 30 years old, riding the Indian Pacific – something someone had spent all their days planning for.
I felt for her that her lifelong ambition was a train ride.
But I learned over the subsequent days that Sal wasn’t alone in her ambition. The majority of the passengers had very similar stories.
As I was easily the youngest by about 25 years, I listened intently as they told their life stories (and offered me advice, whether I wanted it or not).
If I thought my life had been eventful, I was badly mistaken.
This crowd could run rings around my experiences and I loved hearing their tales.
At first I’d had my reservations about the whole trip. I wasn’t sure that a train holiday with the silver surfer club would be my thing.
But as soon as we pulled away from Sydney, through the stunning Blue Mountains and the deserted Aussie outback, I began to understand why Sal had spent her whole life planning for this one special trip.
Kilometres (it’s not miles here) of yellow, brown and bright orange desert lay completely flat, stretching out.
There weren’t any trees or shrubbery to take your attention away from the sweeping views.
As we stopped in amazing places such as Adelaide, Cook (considered one of the worlds most isolated towns – population four), Kalgoorlie-Boulder and beautiful Perth, I can honestly say I was blown away by the experience.
So do I still feel bad for Sal that her ultimate dream had been to go on a train ride?
Not one little bit.