Thursday, February 08, 2007

Places You Are In When You Want To Be In Some Place Else

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.


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.


nailpolishblues said...

Oh dear, you'd better keep us updated while you're there.

TimT said...

Will do, Nails - definitely. And regularly. I'm takin' this here laptop over there!

nailpolishblues said...

Oh that's a relief, I thought I'd have to find someone else to stalk. Very few people post as regularly or as amusingly, you know.

tdix said...

Vale to the CityRail stations that have not shared Camellia's good fortune: National Park and Pipita.

Lest we regress.

Enjoy your trip!

nailpolishblues said...

Oh, and because you're talking about train stations I'd like to give a shout out to my favourite which is the old Mortuary Station. I love the daily reminder that the creepy atmosphere of Central Station has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with its former life as a graveyard. Oh hi to platforms One and Two at Wynyard - I know you're out there, somewhere..

TimT said...

Wynyard's missing two platforms? I never knew this!

Ah, Pipita: I hardly knew ye. Actually, I didn't know ye, but now I wish I did - alas, it's too late for that.

The Melbourne train system has a North, West, and East Richmond Station respectively (though I'm not sure about details about what line they're on) but it doesn't have a South Richmond station. Although the announcements on-train are so eccentric that one of these days they'll say 'Now approaching South Richmond Station ...'

ras said...

Ahh train stations.

Since coming to Melbourne I've found flagstaff rather interesting...same with southern cross...I also got lost in melbourne central in my first week here.

Every been to macdonaldtown station? It is a raised slab of concrete one station before newtown which, for the most part gets bypassed by trains. To reach it you have to walk under a bridge and up some stairs.... unfortgettable only because it is so strange.

BTW, i wish you bonvoyage on your trip. I look forward to hearing about Americas railway system...if there is one outside New York

TimT said...

I think I caught a train from Macdonaldtown once. It's hard to find, isn't it? I've never ever got on or off at Flagstaff station, and consequently am a little vague as to where it is. Beneath Flagstaff Gardens... you are right, it is intriguing.

Avoid Parliament and Central stations; the plastic dungeons of the city. Spencer Street (or, excuse me - Southern Cross. They had a name change recently.) and Flinders Street are where it's at.

Charles Murton said...

Might I humbly recommend Ruthven Station in Melbourne's northern suburbs?

VISTA: hundreds of square miles of 1950s fibro and weatherboard housing, each one a newly-married young couple's domestic dream in 1958; now looking a bit stained and fox-eared.

STATION: entirely without character. A very long platform with a tiny unmanned central shelter. Generally you at one end, and some youths of Middle Eastern appearance shouting and pushing each other at the other end.

LITTER: medium quality. Nothing there for the real connoisseur - the discarded newspaper is generally the local rag, there is the odd Four 'n' Twenty pie bag with a damp smear of tomato sauce still sticking to the side, thrown-away bubble gum comes in all pastel shades and is extremely adherent. Paper coffee mugs with a last swallow of coffee gone cold at the bottom of them are quite common.

TICKET-BUYING FACILITIES: whadareya, a poofter or something? Don't even bother - they've been out of order since 2001.

SECURITY CAMERAS: lots of them. A, experimental play of 'Nineteen Eighty-Four' could be performed on the Ruthven station platform.

THOSE MIRRORS YOU SEE ON THE END OF SOME STATIONS: no. That would add too much interest and character.

The Polarizer said...

Moreland Station has, over the last year, become an unofficial hard rubbish dump.
Despite that, the mini-playground is always being used by smiling families.
Brunswick station is my favorite on the upfield line, especially on a warm afternoon with punters from the Railway hotel hanging around.

Tim, best of luck on your trip and i hope you have fun.
You have the special honour of being the first ever person to write a comment on my blog, so I make sure I always check your blog as repayment. So please make sure to update us.
Bon Voyage!!

TimT said...

Thanks for all the suggestions and well wishes, everyone. I was tempted this evening when I'd finished work to go and catch a train to Flagstaff just for fun - one last hoorah, you might say! I didn't, though.

There are plenty of train stations worth a visit in Melbourne. (Some are only worth ONE visit, but that's another story).
This wasn't intended to be an exhaustive list, but while compiling this, a few came to mind:

Balaclava Station - surreptitiously hidden above and away from all the cafes and shops on busy Carlisle Street.

Yarraville - I go here occasionally to watch films at The Sun.

Also, any of the tram stops along Lygon Street are worth it; catch a tram on a Sunday afternoon for best effect.

nailpolishblues said...

Wynyard is platforms 3 & 4 and 5 & 6. I had to google to find out what happened to 1 & 2 and it turns out they never really were - the harbour bridge was meant to have train tracks on the eastern side as well only someone seems to have changed their mind about it. The would be station served the trams [oh way back when] until they were, ah, discontinued. Pretty weird but I was curious...

Thank you for the booklets, btw. I'm currently too tired to deal with the little print but there's all day at work tomorrow to read!

Charles Murton said...

Regarding the Upfield line there is also the station of Jewell. That has to be a better name than Camellia doesn't it?

The father of a kid I knew at high school actually worked the level crossing gates at the Coburg Railway station. I visited the house once - V.R. supplied free housing in a small house right next to the gates. It was a brilliant arrangement - whoever was home would just open and close the gates after hearing a loud bell that went off in the kitchen.

TimT said...

I prefer Camellia, to tell the truth - flowers tend to have more literary significance than diamonds and other jewels. It's funny how these arrangements work out: there was a segment on Melbourne 3AW a week ago berating the owners of a rural post office for sending their children out to collect the mail bag. I'd imagine this sort of pressure applies right across all the public services.

ras said...

since we're mentioning stations on the upfield line what about Anstey? Nothing really its abit of a non-event in the way of stations...i just happen to get on and off there most days when i'm on time, otherwise its trams from sydney rd for me!

TimT said...

Anstey is definitely the in-between station, well worth a mention.

Not too many noteable stations here in the States, that I've been through, yet. Apart from Grand Central, which is, um, grand. I'll keep an eye out.

Gempires said...

I spent nine years living in Dundas, where my Mum still lives, just a little too far from Carlingford station to be a nice distance, but close enough to walk reluctantly. Hours of my youth and early twenties were whittled away staring at rail pebbles at fucking Clyde. More than once, the terminating Carlingford train took off from Clyde seconds after the connecting train pulled into the station, leaving a number of angry, confused, depressed, rattled passengers huffing after a fruitless marathon dash across the platform. A few times I shared taxis with strangers rather than submit to that awful, shattering waiting. I saw many dawns on Clyde station during my party years; stared at the local loony who carries a transistor radio and gently announces 'alright everybody off' upon pulling into Clyde (then catches it back again, lest the passengers forget to get off at the other end); cursed endless guards and shittyrail in general, until I finally lost it. I now treck via buses plus trains plus buses to and from the city rather than ever face Clyde station again. It costs me more, sometimes it even takes longer, but I am never stranded in that geographical cruelty that is Clyde.

I feel your pain.

Email: timhtrain - at -

eXTReMe Tracker

Blog Archive