Thursday, May 14, 2009

Melbourne to Ballarat by Train

Rail map of Central Victoria and Port Phillip BayAs I was going to Ballarat to talk at a Green ICT Conference, I thought I should take a green way to get there. So I took the V/Line train at 4:05pm from Melbourne, Southern Cross. At one hour and fourteen minutes, this is a very practical and comfortable way to travel. Southern Cross is a modern well equipped and dramatic departure point. The express buses from Melbourne airport pull in under the station, making for a convenient interchange without leaving the building.

On the way I made a side trip to swap notes on sustainable IT education with Frank Mentiplay at Box Hill Institute. This is an interesting institution, being a TAFE which offers vocational education at a level far beyond the usual trade certificate. Frank is working on a sustainable ICT education program. It was good to see that this was along the same lines as the course I designed for the ACS and the course for the ANU (COMP7310: Green ICT Strategies).

I was able to get a train from Southern Cross to Box Hill and back. The only complication was that the Box Hill station is located under a shopping centre not shown on the Google map. I expected to step off the train onto a street, but all the streets have been built over by the shopping arcades and it took me some time to find the way out. Once out on the correct side it was not far to the Box Hill campus.

The Melbourne to Ballarat trip is not that scenic. There are railway works and abandoned buildings along the city section. There are some curiosities, such as a giant gold statute of a Chinese Mandarin in the middle of an artificial lake.

Out of the city there are expanses flat featureless fields, until Ballarat. But there is plenty to see at Ballarat, starting with the Ballarat railway station. The new Wendouree station in the west Ballarat is opening shortly and there were upgrades to the line to Melbourne announced in the federal budget this week.

There is an excellent rail map of the route: Melbourne to Swan Hill, Ballarat and Ararat.

ps: Previously I have been Sydney to Melbourne by XPT, Brisbane to Sydney by XPT, as well as other train trips.

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