The Daily Post @ WordPress topic for today is a question that has somewhat different implications for those of us who dwell in the antipodes. Today’s question asked if I were to travel 500 miles what would be my preferred choice of the three kinds of transport. Here in Australia this question relates more often to what would be the available form of transport. 500 miles, 800 kilometers, is pretty much the average distance between major cities in Australia. It is not uncommon for remote communities to be hundreds of kilometers apart and for driving distances to be measured in days not miles.
In these circumstances travelers quite often have no choice about what kind of transport that they use to get to their destination. There are many places that can only be reached by road or even only by 4×4 vehicles, and others where only light aircraft or helicopters will get you in or out. The rail network in Australia covers vast distances but because it connects the major cities and little else there are few viable commuter lines that cross the outback. The airline services are similarly restricted so flying to a destination may be off of the list as well. Australia is truly a land of cars and trucks, the last holdout of the V8 gas guzzlers even though the further that you travel inland the fewer and more primitive the roads become. But for this very reason Australia is a land of great highways too.
As most of my readers live in America and Europe I will explain that Australia is a huge desert island with a narrow band of fertile green around the coastline where by far the greatest numbers of people live. The center of the continent is a vast wilderness of trackless desert. This circumstance means that the bulk of the nation’s infrastructure skirts the edge of the land and very little crosses the interior. What does cross the desert can provide some of the most spectacular roads to drive anywhere in the world.
In my travels I have used all three methods of transport to visit distant parts of the country. If I can avoid driving I will but faced with its inevitability I always look forward to the chance to take in the uniquely beautiful landscape of the outback, the oldest land on the planet. By far the most convenient way to travel here is to fly but only between the major cities, outside of that it may be difficult to get closer than a couple of hundred kilometers to many destinations. But, if I had to choose one of the great journeys to be had in Australia I think that I would take the trip on the Ghan. This famous rail journey connects Adelaide in the south with Darwin in the north, crossing through the red center from the arid deserts of South Australia to the tropical mangroves of the Northern Territory and it remains one of the truly great train journeys in the world.
So I suppose in the end I would prefer the train journey over a grueling 800 kilometer drive or the stresses of airports, but living in Australia I have learned to be thankful when the only available mode of transport isn’t a camel.