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Full Circle

Day 150: Mount Cook to Dunedin

Dunedin, New Zealand 
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Forgotten majesty - Dunedin railway station.
Michael Palin - Full CircleI'm hauled out of breakfast this morning to see a Kea that is nosing around the garbage at the back of the kitchens. The Kea is a mountain parrot with a large, sharp, lethally-curved beak with which it and its comrades have been known to strip a car down in thirty minutes. It is completely unafraid of human beings, which I find rather alarming. The fat fearless little bird struts around like a newly appointed alderman, occasionally fixing me with a beady, supercilious eye.

Decide I'm suffering from parrotnoia, an irrational fear that all the world's parrots know about the sketch I once played with John Cleese, and are waiting to take their revenge.


Mid-afternoon: The two-coach 'Southerner' diesel-hauled railway service pulls into Dunedin. Dunedin station was built for greater things. It is a magnificent, florid Flemish Renaissance building that anywhere else in the world in Europe would be proud to have as a town hall let alone a station. The walls are solid and baronial, built from rough stone blocks A long, pillared ironwork canopy runs the length of the platform. The booking-hall is galleried with Italian cherubs looking down on stained glass windows which depict a locomotive, complete with cowcatcher and orange glass headlamps, trailing a plume of grey steam. On the tiled floor various features of the railway are picked out in mosaic panels - a telegraph pole, a semaphore signal, a goods wagon. Outside, a sturdy colonnade supported by pillars of polished Aberdeen granite was built to protect arriving passengers from the rigours of Dunedin's weather as they awaited their carriages. Only two trains a day unload passengers here now.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Full Circle
  • Day: 150
  • Country/sea: New Zealand
  • Place: Dunedin
  • Book page no: 208

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