The woman in the seat before me is not happy. The buffet in the TransWA Prospector service takes cash only. There’s no wi-fi (“But,” she says crossly, “the website says you do”). Meanwhile, the train slows down beside a farm in the Swan Valley. Sheep look up from their grazing – I’m positive they can hear Ms. Grouch. The rising sun silvers the grass while rows of leafless vines stand starkly black like a morning military parade. Today’s train driver likes tooting on his horn. We move on.
As my companion grumbles about the outdated choice of viewing fare available on board, a rippling creek keeps us company outside our windows. The water froths and foams past jagged rocks, smoothing edges but doing little to soothe the temper of my fellow traveller. Eighty kilometres outside Perth and counting, I am revelling in the sight of shorn sheep and green fields and estates with names such as Glen Avon.
There is no one beside me – the crew have already unsuccessfully paged a Ms. Johnson of Seat 6. Behind is an Indian family, uncharacteristically quiet (to my mind). The mother is resolute yet remote and her two children are quietly biddable. I spot kangaroos outside as we approach Toodyay. I wonder if they’ve seen them too. Across the aisle two pensioners are looking out the window as well. Do they enjoy the view as I do? They are having strawberries for breakfast. Everyone else is engrossed in the on-board film.
So yes, there is no wi-fi, and the movies are old. The coffee is revolting as is the tea and (I have just discovered) the hot chocolate. Who looks for fine dining on a train anyway? Go on a cruise ship instead. Or, you could travel as I do – for the view, for the companionship of fellow travellers, and for the time for contemplation that only a long journey provides. I see something new each time I get on the Prospector. Even if it is only for a fleeting second, the memory remains.
I travelled on the Prospector to Kalgoorlie. However, you can also travel on the Avon Link and the Merredin Link if you’re not going that far. These services have wi-fi.