A trip into Town and State Library

photoRMW Boots (1996)

With recent heatwave, we thought it would not be silly to seek the comfort of air-conditioned surroundings. While many escape into shopping emporiums, we thought to seek coolness in a train journey.  The shopping centres are often dispiriting. This rampant materialism, when I know that whatever they buy, soon I’ll find it chucked out and left on the nature strip. From bedding to barbeques, from Day and Night lounges to lettuce spinners, sooner or later it gets heaved out. Not only that, but all that public eating that’s going on. Some eat seated parked next to their trolley. Some sit almost in the trolley. At times I have difficulty seeing what is trolley and what is shopper. Through years of shopping they morph into almost the same.

I thought first to wait with writing after having gone to Town. However so much has gone on in preparation I can’t really wait. Last time readers might remember that In Australia we now have train and bus travel where by the conductors have been replaced by electronic steel posts. They are called Opal stations. They are not real stations. They are steel posts set in concrete onto which humans tap a card. The Opal card is a train ticked.

We took our first Opal tapping train journey some weeks ago. We were full of excitement and while the tapping went very well, the train journey was less so. We had a very badly swaying and creaking carriage. I am sure it was in danger of coming off its wheels.  At each station stop, and there were so many, diesel fumes would filter into the carriage. We thought on the way home we would get relief from that noise, and poisonous fumes, but no. We arrived back nauseous and with  thumping headaches. Helvi, stated. “Never again.” She knows her limitations and is widely travelled.

It was therefore that I planned to do the train trip a bit better, and would personally go to the Bowral Station-Master to ask for advice and hopefully book a train less tumultuous in its movements and less diesel fumed, and if possible with a well lubricated undercarriage. He said; ?”NO. We don’t deal with trains or ticketing anymore. You have to go on-line. Here is the information.” He gave me a sheet on which there was written with large lettering ‘Begin your regional journey ONLINE.’ I was tempted to ask what he was still doing at the Station. Emptying the bins or blowing his whistle, wave a flag?

Strange as it may sound you can’t get tickets anymore from railway stations. Some have large machines that sell tickets but they are also going out. I don’t know what people do who don’t go ‘ONLINE’ or who don’t have internet nor mobile phones. As far as I know not owning Computers and mobile phones is not unlawful. I was told that pensioners still get charged $2.50 all day travel. So, home I went with my information ONLINE sheet tucked in my pocket.

I went ONLINE and was surprised how easy it was. I booked Bowral-Sydney return, but, here comes the sting. On the line with faster service with toilets, buffet for cool drinks, a coffee or a croissant they don’t accept Opal. No $2.50 all day travel for pensioners either.

We were billed $ 94.54 for the two of us. I thought the Station Master looked a but shifty. He must have known.

Anyway, it will be a nice train  tomorrow, and faster by an amazing twenty minutes. Helvi will be happy not to get thrown about the carriage and infused with Diesel. I’ll let you know how it all went.


The reason for the visit to the State Library is that I am entering my books in a completion. Now that is exciting.


25 Responses to “A trip into Town and State Library”

  1. Yvonne Says:

    Good luck with the trip, and with your entry in the competition. We say “Break a leg” to an actor about to go on stage. Do we say “Break a finger ” to an author?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. lifecameos Says:

    Good luck with the books in the competition. And with the travel.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. berlioz1935 Says:

    I’m so happy not working for State Rail anymore. I would be ashamed fronting a passenger in need of assistance. What would you tell them? I know, hand them a pamphlet.

    For your venture at the State Library, I wish you luck.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Thank you ,Berlioz. How are you? I am entering two books. One as a memoir, the other on humour. We shall see. My little suitcase is heavy, having to supply 5 books for each competition.
      The train travel is now on a totally different level. The Stata rail is doing without workers or trying to. I bet many now just have an old card and tap the metal poles. They don’t have to pay those poles nor give them pensions.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. petspeopleandlife Says:

    I hope the train ride will be enjoyable. Good luck on your book competition. Will keep my fingers crossed for you.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. kaytisweetlandrasmussen83 Says:

    Add my good wishes for the competition. I haven’t been on a train ride for too long. We have our local train of course which takes us to the whole Bay Area, but as far as venturing afield aboard a “real” train, it has been a long time

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Thank you, Kayti.

      Yes, real trains and opal-card trains are different and that’s what we are now finding out. Instead of paying $2.50 for all day travel on the ‘normal’ train (or bus and ferry) we pay $96.- for the ‘special’ train.
      I don’t really get it. Both trains have wheels and run on the same track and go Choo, choo…
      I hope the books will survive the journey and I shall try not to spill coffee over them.

      Liked by 3 people

  6. Curt Mekemson Says:

    Good luck in the competition, Gerard! And enjoy your train trip. That’s an incredible difference in costs. We traveled round trip on Amtrak over the holidays from Boston to Connecticut for $60. But nowhere could one find a $2.50 train, regardless of how senior we are! 🙂 –Curt

    Liked by 3 people

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      As it turned out, the $ 94.- train is not for Opal card travellers. The loudspeaker on the train many times repeated the message, that the train was for booked seats only.
      The $2.50 pensioner ticked is now used by Opal card people. However, as I understand any senior over 65 can now get the concessional fare but booking a seat online one gets a different train that is sturdier, quieter and no diesel fumes. But, it costs almost forty times as much.
      I would not like to defend this difference. It defies all logic or any good sense. But, that’s the ‘English factor.’


      • Curt Mekemson Says:

        At least, Gerard, the lower fares mean that people who can’t afford the higher prices can still get around. And that is ever so important. I sat on a public transit board for several years, and the battle was always in how to keep the cost affordable while still providing decent service. –Curt

        Liked by 1 person

      • gerard oosterman Says:

        Yes, that’s true. The cheaper fare gets even cheaper when trains are caught outside peak hours. There is a lot to learn about public transport. In Holland the railway network is now 100% wind powered. No diesel fumes.


  7. algernon1 Says:

    Im a little surprised they haven’t electrified the southern line past Macarthur to at least Moss Vale, Gerard. There are plenty of people who commute from those parts. I work with some that commute from Picton and Bowral. There are two hour services from Lithgow and hourly from Mount Victoria on electrified trains. Two trains an hour from Newcastle one express the other all stops on electric trains as well.

    I commute to and from Penrith one to three days a week at the moment and only catch the mountains trains to and from Strathfield. Fortunately Newcastle trains stop at my station so I catch those as well making the trip just under the hour. I pick my times too. Tap on before 7am and the trip is $4.52 instead of $6.36. I get the 3:55 from Penrith as well for the same reason most the time. The mountains trains whilst older have higher backed seats as well as carpet. They are a nicer trip and only stop at Parramatta and Blacktown. They also have quiet carriages where you’re not meant to talk play music or make phone calls.

    Junior and I went to the Cricket a couple of weeks back; he’s an irregular traveller on public transport nowadays. He taps on at 8:57 and I wait. Why he asks, its cheaper after 9am I say and the trains at 9:03. There were 20-30 waiting to do the same. With the pole it was cleared in about 30 seconds. Saves a $1.30.

    Liked by 3 people

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      You are right, Algy. Thank you for all that information. The electric part stops at MacArthur and the Diesel train takes over to where we live and onto Canberra and Melbourne.
      My brother is on the Newcastle line and the trains are electric without fumes or undue interior turbulence.

      The train with the $96. ticket (return for two) was much better. It had soft adjustable seats, arm rests and curtains. The train driver introduced himself and announced his name (Malcolm) . He did his best to reassure all the passenger were in good capable hands, even wished us a nice journey! He gave stern warnings to those that tried Opal card fares.

      It had a buffet car and a nice reasonable menu, including Beef and black bean sauce with rice, teriyaki chicken and rice, and spaghetti bolognaise.
      One even could get a small bottle of fine Shiraz or sauvignon blanc. ( two bottle per hour) for a modest $9.-

      We felt nice and when the uniformed conductor came by, proudly showed our pre-booked ONLINE and printed forms with seat number and our names.

      There were no police dogs going through the train nor signs of scratched windows or knifed seats. So, all in all. We enjoyed the trip to Central Station in Sydney very much.

      I liked that you waited till after 9 to get a cheaper ticket. Alas the young don’t worry about those sort of things anymore, Algy. Different times!

      Liked by 3 people

  8. shoreacres Says:

    Best of luck to you, Gerard! The five copy requirement intrigued me. Perhaps it’s a matter of having one copy for each judge? We may have the same sorts of things here, and I just don’t know about them. In any event, it will be fun to hear about it. Good that Helvi will be able to travel without the diesel fumes — and you, too, for that matter.

    Liked by 2 people

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, Linda. That is how I figured it out; a book for each judge. I am so happy and proud for the books to have found their way inside the prestigious State Library. Who would have thought? I had tied a nice white ribbon around each parcel of five books.
      I carried the books around in a small trolley-like suitcase with an extendable handle.

      Very handy, even though Sydney is now a giant ant-metropolis. I was careful people would not trip over the trolley. It was a walk we won’t forget. The temperature 36C. We were determined to walk between the Central Station and Library at the other end of Town and back again, just to do it as proof we are fit and that the daily walks with Milo are paying dividends. I would have thought it at least 10Km in total.

      It was a great day.

      Liked by 2 people

  9. hilarycustancegreen Says:

    Our ancient train station at Cambridge has just been revamped. You will be glad to know that there are half a dozen manned ticket windows and half a dozen electronic machines that dispense pre-paid or newly ordered tickets.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, I think that it should always be possible to get tickets from train stations. Our own Bowral rail station now has a sign; “no paper tickets will be sold, provided or accepted at this station.”
      Yet, it still has a station master who is still there to give out the key for those needing the toilet. Normally toilets are kept closed to prevent misuse, or perhaps to prevent homeless from setting up camp.
      I would not like to go to the Station master begging for a key to use the toilet. One can just imagine what a French tourist would make of that little cultural oddity.


      • hilarycustancegreen Says:

        I guess Cambridge is a city, so providing for a biggish population. The toilets are all on the platform side of the barriers, but the guys on the barriers will always let you through for that purpose or to meet someone who needs help. There are still plenty of Brits who have no online access.


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