Thursday, November 28, 2002 Afternoon, Stuart Ryder

And so another eclipse trip begins. But this one is a little different. This one is happening in my "backyard". After previous eclipse chases had taken me to Mexico, Chile, Mongolia, the Caribbean, and Turkey, this time I only have to go as far as South Australia. But the "outback" is somewhere I have never really been in my 15 or so years of living in Australia, so this will be as much of a journey of discovery for me as for anyone.

I guess it all began just after the successful Turkish eclipse of August 1999, when my co-conspirator Dave Moser suggested I might like to organize the next trip. Knowing that I would soon be moving back to Australia from Hawaii, I (foolishly) agreed. Must have had too much of that Turkish Eclipse wine. Anyway, the next question was not where to go, but how to get there. After all, the lesson we learned from Mongolia was "go for the journey and if you see the eclipse, thatís a bonus." This would be especially true this time around as totality would last less than 30 seconds in Australia. So I thought, "why not combine two of the great railway journeys of the world (to keep Mervyn happy) with a true outback experience, and a journey to Uluru, the spiritual heart of Australia?"

Several hundred emails later with loads of help from Lauren at ATS, here we are at last on board the Indian Pacific bound for Adelaide. Itís great to be able to share this experience with so many good friends. Daveís past eclipse trips (plus a few "eclipse virgins" as well) but most particularly, Iím glad to be able to bring my parents on this one and hopefully share with them the awesome splendour that is the total solar eclipse.

At a welcome reception in the Gold Kangaroo Lounge we got to introduce ourselves and meet some fellow eclipse chasers. Surprisingly this is one of the lightest passenger loads the Indian Pacific has had in some time, with just 96 people and 450 m long. Dinner tonight in Gold Kangaroo class was excellent, washed down with a nice bottle of SA red. The Indian Pacific lumbers across a drought-stricken New South Wales, I only hope there are no last minute crises for me to deal with (e.g. do we need visas for SA?), that we have clear skies on December 4, and that I can find a willing victim to take on the next half-day journal. Perhaps the lure of an AAO 2002 calendar for best entry will do the trick.