This Saturday, I'm catching a plane on an eccentric and probably expensive trip to the United States and the northern winter. It's going to be one great big mess, as I haven't planned anything, and I'll probably end up getting mugged by Garrison Keillor in Kansas or something. But in the process, I expect I'll have a few places to add to this list. I originally wanted to call it 'Train Stations I have Known', and I started writing it when I visited Sydney last year and ended up catching train after train after train. It's a work in progress, and I'll update it when I get back.
SOME TRAIN STATIONS I HAVE KNOWN, AND OTHER ECCENTRIC NON-DESTINATIONS
Moreland Station, Melbourne
Moreland Station has all the hallmarks of the classic Melbourne station: a square lump of concrete and a metal fence.
Occasionally, it is inhabited by Middle Eastern youths or businessmen or women. On weekday mornings, it regularly fills up with folks on their way to work; on the evenings, it vents these same people - often in the same positions - onto the concrete again.
It is an in-between station, a middle station - a station that does not possess the verve and energy of Flinders Street station, nor the hell-like qualities of Frankston.
It is best appreciated on a Saturday morning in late spring, perhaps with a can of lemonade for company.
PLUS: Bonus Bogan on Saturday!
Elizabeth Street Tram Stop, Melbourne
Located on the corner of Flinders Street and Elizabeth Street, this train stop has everything the modern beggar, or "Man About Town", could wish for!
- Open seating!
- A crowd of travellers immobilised by the Melbourne cold!
- Cheap pizza shops, alcohol venues, and peep shows within close proximity
- German tourists who like giving out money!
Sometimes a tram even comes!
Parliament Station, Melbourne
The interior decor of Parliament Station bespeaks the classical elegance and restraint that we have come to expect from the Victorian State Government. (Other highlights in the career of this master design firm include those metal toilets on Chapel Street in Windsor, and the footpath with a hole on it in Alma Road.)
The walls are lined with plush blue-and-white plastic, and the seating is made from sensual metal. The stations themselves are accessed by an interminable series of escalators, reminiscent of Dante's descent into hell.
As our travellers go onwards, the ambience of the everyday, sunlit world is stripped away, until at the bottom, we find our true selves: tribes of blacks and whites leering and sneering at one another while they wait for their train.
Just because we are all racist does not mean that we can't all get along with one another.
Town Hall Station, Sydney
Town Hall Station has a faint but distinct perfume, redolent of dirty people and excrement. It is exceedingly popular with tourists, and some will even pay for a ticket and go through the gates, without even bothering to catch a train - just to enjoy the experience of sitting there for an hour or two, enjoying the sites and sounds, and say they've "been there" to their grandchildren.
Just for fun, why don't you pay for a ticket and do the same thing?
Broadmeadow Station, Newcastle
Broadmeadow Station was located in Newcastle, NSW. Then Melbourne decided to have a Broadmeadows of its own and turned it into a plural.
Broadmeadow in Newcastle is usually populated by footy supporters, fat people who have come from the local McDonalds, and shouting school kids.
PLUS: Every 100th customer at Broadmeadow Station gets a rambling alcoholic to accompany them on their trip - for FREE!
Williamstown Airport, Williamstown (near Newcastle)
Williamstown Airport, outside Newcastle, is a bustling hub of activity without the buslte and the activity. It is essentially a long room where the customer checks themselves in at one and and their baggage in at the other end. Sometimes a plane lands outside and the pilott comes strolling in as if he were out for a Sunday drive.
And maybe he is.
Williamstown Airport is a pleasant enough place to spend your time when you want to be somewhere else.
Camellia Station, Sydney
To find the Carlingford line in Sydney, you have to change trains at several stations with obscure names and curious functions in the Sydney train system. After playing the complex and unsettling sport of train hopping (a process fraught with difficulty and with uncertain results), you will finally arrive at a station that shares the same name with an old uncle you may or may not have: Clyde. This is the juncture at which you will catch the Carlingford line.
If you do make it to Clyde Station, then you will certainly arrive at Clyde Station on a Sunday afternoon, when the Carlingford trains only run once every hour; and you will assuredly arrive at Clyde Station five minutes after the Carlingford train has left. By a curious coincidence, whether it be arranged by fate or the Sydney transport bureaucracy, everyone who arrives for the Carlingford train does so exactly at this time.
The Carlingford line runs through a small number - about eight, if I recall correctly - of obscure train stations with melodious names, vaguely redolent of the 1950s: Telopea, Rydalmere, Rosehill Racecourse ...
Camellia Station is neither the first nor the last among these stations. It holds a special place amongst the litany of little-known Sydney train stations. With a name reminisicent of flowers, of sunlight, and of a girl in the full bloom of her beauty, Camellia is the smiling partner to her older, more staid relative, Clyde.
I have never been to Camellia Station. I shall probably never be to Camellia Station. And I shall love Camellia Station until I die.
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