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Photo of the Month - exploring the Story behind the Image...

Indian Pacific Carriages at Central Station

Indian Pacific Carriages at Central Station

Year: 2012, Month: December

Australia > New South Wales > Sydney

Australia is a vast and magical country, so requires something special when you have a need to travel the long distances between her major cities. If you want to see the countryside whilst travelling in relative comfort or even luxury, the train is the best choice, and Australia has three very famous trains that will turn your journey into a holiday in its own right. They are run by Great Southern Rail, and are called the Indian Pacific, the Ghan, and the Overland.

The 'Indian Pacific' travels between Perth on the Indian Ocean, and Sydney on the Pacific Ocean, hence the name 'Indian Pacific'. It takes three days and three nights to make the 4352km coast to coast journey, with major stops in Kalgoorlie, Adelaide, and Broken Hill; and a minor sight-seeing stop at the tiny town of Cook.

The 'Ghan' travels between Adelaide on the Southern Ocean to Darwin on the Timor Sea. It takes two nights and three days to make the 2979km journey, with major stops in Alice Springs and Katherine. It gets its name from the Afghan camel drivers, who were so vital in the development of the line.

The 'Overland' has a much shorter train journey than its two big sisters. It travels between Melbourne and Adelaide, a tiny distance (by Australian standards) of just 828km. There are no major stops enroute. The journey takes just 10.5 hours and the train only runs in the daytime, so there is no need for sleeper cars or Day-Nighter seats.

In 2012 during a three month trip to Australia I travelled on all three of these trains, and so it is only fitting that at least one photograph taken from my journey should end up on the Photo Of The Month page. If you are NOT a resident of Australia, you can take advantage of the range of rail passes available only to foreign nationals. These passes are exceptionally good value, compared to a standard ticket on one of the long-distance trains. For instance, a 3-month unlimited travel Ausrail Pass is actually cheaper than a single ticket on one train from Sydney to Perth !!

I have written a series of useful articles for anyone wanting to travel on the long-distance trains of Australia - you can see them all here.

This photograph leaves little doubt as to what is going on. The shot, taken at Sydney's Central Station, the terminus for the train, is focussed on the nameboard for the 'Indian Pacific' carriage, with its distinctive logo of a Wedge-Tailed Eagle - a bird that you are more than likely to see during the three day journey. The converging parallels of carriage side and platform marking are made possible only with a very wide-angle lens, such as the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 12-24mm 1:4 G DX SWM ED IF used in this photograph, at its maximum setting of 12mm. The converging parallels easily convey a sense of length, great depth, and distance. The viewer's eye, which always loves to move about within a photograph, focusses initially on the carriage nameboard (never under-estimate the power of the written word in drawing the eye) then is swiftly transported to the end of the platform, where it rests on the very necessary 'end point' - in this case a couple of travellers, who have been deliberately left out of focus to again emphasise the depth of field of the image.

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