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The Australians, let’s face it, are an urbanised lot. The majority of their land (the bare bit, the wild bit, the difficult bit) lies beyond the living space of 85 per cent of the population – and with good reason. It’s a rough and dangerous place. And it’s vast.

But the Aussies are also very sensible. Mercifully, they provide an excellent means to explore their massive frying-pan of a continent in comfort. The outback may represent the equivalent of outer space, a hot moon of Venus, but we were going to take a rolling Sputnik – a well-equipped and serviced train, trundling out along a track that must surely boggle the mind of any maintenance contractor. No human beings live anywhere near hundreds…

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