Saturday 20th December
As we have both read several books on Antartic explorers, we head for the South Australian Museum, which has a large display centered on the Antartic explorer Douglas Mawson, who lived here. The section is full of artefacts (eg his sleeping bag made from camel hair), photos, documents and videos of Douglas Mawson's three explorative journeys just over a hundred years ago. There is also a replica of the hut where the whole party lived, and a special place for Mawson's knife and half sled. During a mapping expedition out from base camp his two companions died, and Mawson then used the knife to saw the sled in half before walking back to base camp – a solo journey of 160km. Other exhibitions featured Aboriginal culture, Egyptian artefacts, megafauna, fossils, meteorites, minerals and opals. In the gift shop it is possible to buy the same style of balaclava that Mawson wore – or even the pattern so you can knit your own. A picnic lunch outside the well designed war memorial – one can walk inside and find all the names of people who died in WWI inscribed on plaques on the walls.
Sunday 21st December
Just a short metro train ride to Port Adelaide brings us to the National Railway Museum, which despite the name contains mostly South Australian railway history. They are definitely not short of rolling stock with two buildings each with four to five tracks, each with at least four engines or carriages standing. It is possible to walk through some of the carriages and see how sleeping compartments were designed almost one hundred years ago. Three wagons come from ”The Tea and Sugar” train, which began in 1917 with the sole purpose to bring daily necessities out to the workers laying the railway between Adelaide and Perth. As the track didn't pass close to existing towns there was no other way to bring in supplies. After the railway line was finished small towns sprang up along the railway line, but these also needed supplies, so the Tea and Sugar kept running. One carriage included a bank, another housed the shop and another the butcher. As there was no coldroom in the train there were a few animals in small pens on the train, and the butcher slaughtered an animal as there was the need. The train also had a cinema and from the 1970's a doctor's clinic. Each December there was an extra carraige for Santa – bringing Christmas joy to the children along the track. The train finally stopped running in 1996.
Back to the hotel for some PC work and when I head out to buy some groceries at Woolworths in the nearby Rundle Street Mall at 5.30pm it is closed – as are most of the shops. So we then head down to the Coles supermarket near Chinatown and that is also closed. All the shops in the centre of Adelaide close at 5pm, even though it is the last Sunday before Christmas! So there goes our picnic lunch for the train tomorrow – hope the dining car isn't too overpriced.