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The first part of the run out of Sydney took us through Redfern and suburbs that presented an urban landscape much like the outskirts of any major city. Sydney's Summer Hill and Burswood are close to interchangeable with Brisbane's Yerongpilly and Loganlea. Similar examples could probably be cited for Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth.

From where we were sitting there was nothing around the station at Homebush to indicate the area had been hosting the Olympics ten years earlier, though blocks of units on the other side may well have been the Olympic Village. 

By 3:47 we were passing a rail yard at Clyde and discovering the westering sun, as it sank towards the horizon, was going to be a real headache. 

After a slow start, we were noticeably gathering speed at Pendle Hill. By Blacktown, we weren't exactly motoring, but we were going places fast enough for the Doonside station sign to become an almost unreadable blur. 

On the outskirts of Penrith, we were starting to come across patches of scrub, though there was still plenty of urban sprawl in evidence as well. 

Crossing the Nepean River and passing Emu Plains a left-hand turn started us onto the climb over the Blue Mountains, reducing the speed, but taking the train to heights providing broad backward vistas remarkably quickly. As the ascent continued, the sun cut in and out each time the track twisted or turned through the hills. 

© Ian Hughes 2017