I recently took a train ride to a suburb just outside of Sydney called Bella Vista and had a train to myself.
Three trains actually…
In fact the journey required two changes of trains. The first from Bondi Junction to the city centre. This was at 9am, more or less ‘rush hour’, yet that train was barely 20% used. If that! Then I changed in the centre for another ‘commuter’ train out to Chatswod in north Sydney. Now Chatswood is a busy little epicentre all of its own but this train too was barely 20% full.
From Chatswood I stepped off the train and walked across the platform to get on board the newest of transport in the city. The Metro line. There is only one line – at this time – and it runs between Chatswood and a place called Tallawong. A few stops before is a place called Bella Vista – which is both Spanish and Italian and translates as beautiful view. The Metro train left Chatswood station with a handful of passengers. After a couple of stops I had the train to myself and there were still five or six stops before I got off. Incredible eh?
Meeting an old friend…
There is really not too much to see in Bella Vista. It is mainly a new suburb of housing for an ever expanding city. There is this place however. Simpy called Bella Vista Farm this was an original farm house (and out buildings) which has been preserved as a kind of museum but only open on the first Sunday of the month.
This farm was one of several extending out from Parramatta to Windsor that provided meat, fruit and vegetables for the early colony over 200 years ago. It was farmed by the Macarthur family from 1801 to 1821 when it was known as Seven Hills Farm. Later it was farmed by the Pearce family from 1842 to 1850. John Macarthur was one of the man who developed the wool industry that made Australia rich. It was here that his wife bred the first Spanish Merino sheep in the country. When William Pearce bought the farm he renamed it Bella Vista. Apparently one of his wife’s names was Bella and the place did have a commanding and beautiful view.
Meeting an old friend…
I also managed to catch up with an old friend. I say ‘old’ but I have to point out that he is younger than me. We worked on a project back in Ireland and Spain – fourteen years ago! Ouch! Was it really that long ago? I knew he lived in a nearby suburb so asked if he fancied joining me for a drink. Within twenty minutes were were having a beer together. Great to finally catch up.
The Metro ‘Ghost’ Train Ride
Even when I got off at my destination the place was eerily empty. Only on my way up the final steps did another person appear – on the down escalator. All more than a bit weird.
First I get the entire cinema to myself. Now this. Is this bloody virus rubbish really making things like the newest form of public transport almost obsolete? In a city of some five million people I get a brand new train to myself! On the one had it’s a little funny but on the other it is starting to piss me off.
But here’s the thing. All joking aside I don’t really want all this stuff to myself. I certainly don’t want places like pubs to myself. A big part of being in a pub is the social aspect. A packed pub like the one we went to back in February to watch the live boxing from Las Vegas USA (Tyson Fury vs Deontay Wilder in case anyone is interested) is great. It is what these places were built for.
So come on folks. Let’s all get back out there and get back to normal. Not this “new normal” that is being forced on us.