Tuesday, 29 July 2014


my first journey to helensvale was during the fourth year june exam block. traditionally, i try not to spend too much time enjoying trains during exam blocks, and instead focus on studying (a wise move i am sure you all agree). so why on earth was i traveling all the way to helensvale a few days before an exam? well you will be pleased to know that i was heading to a friends place so we could study together. i have always found group study sessions particularly helpful, as opposed to studying alone. alone i find my adhd kicks into gear far far too often, and i spend time doing unnecessary things that distract from the task at hand. i really am determined to get through this degree without dexamphetamine, and have got this far without it already. i find studying alone to be a challenge, and despite how productive i can be if i apply myself, episodes of consistent application are constantly absent (that seriously sounds like a report card i would have received at some point in my life!)
i really find that group study helps, because as a team you can discuss things, compare answers, debate for what you think is correct and why, and learn off one another. i figure the more brains you work with, the better, and so after an intense group session at pace on a thursday (collecting dutton park station) i ventured to helensvale on the friday to catch up with my friend nicole who, like me, spends a huge amount of time on trains. i have a lot of respect for her intelligence, taste in outfits, and her liking of a good cup of tea. it also helps that she is one of the brightest people i know, so the fact she was happy to study with someone who spends as much time writing about trains as they do studying lecture content, was a huge boost of confidence for me. and so, i ventured onto a gold coast train for the second time. my previous journey on a gold coast train was to nerang station, which had involved fun and football, while this journey was to involve friends, study and a good cup of tea.

helensvale, as i have said, is on the gold coast line. the helensvale station opened in 1996. when heading south on the gold coast train towards varsity lakes, the station before
helensvale is coomera. the station after helensvale when continuing south, is nerang. so i have actually been this far before, but had never stopped at this station. helensvale and coomera are probably both visited by people heading to theme parks more than they are by people visiting friends for a day of study, but alas, this was exam block, so movieworld would have to wait for another day, and the weather was a touch inclement so i didnt really need to visit wet n wild. but since this is the most epic of train blogs you are likely to come across, make note that if you need either of the aforementioned theme parks, helensvale is your station! buses will leave from just outside the station pretty regularly to take thrill seekers to both of these parks, so to save the stress of traveling along the m1, why not catch the gold coast train to helensvale instead!? just as a side note, a friend of mine decided during exam block in first year to visit a theme park the day prior to an exam instead of spending it studying. it worked for him, though i wouldnt recommend this as ideal preparation for the way to spend a day before an exam! his argument was that his season pass was going to expire soon and having only used it once, it wouldnt have been a wise economic choice to have purchased such a pass in the first place, if it were only to be used on one occasion. my mother (the typical frugal hoozier) would agree, however the day before an exam isnt exactly recommended!

my journey to helensvale, like all journeys since we moved, began at dinmore. a 4am start since karen was on opening shifts, meant we were able to leave just after 5am for a train at about 5:30 from dinmore. we managed to get a wifi enabled train for our caboolture train stopping all stations, so i was able to take the opportunity to attempt a set of practice questions from our lecturer for the upcoming exam. she had prepared a quiz of 40 questions with a timer of 80 minutes for the attempt. naturally it didnt count towards your overall grade, though they were designed to give a descent level of preparation for the exam. i was on question 21 of 40 when an announcement came over the train audio between wacol and darra, that a police incident at taringa would have us delayed for up to half an hour. not exactly ideal, considering karens store opens at 7am, and getting to central at about 6:30 gives us adequate time for her to get to the store and open in time. i made a decision on my ipad to change windows to check the queensland rail facebook page for any extra info about the delay, and after doing that, when i returned to the quiz, it had automatically submitted because i had left the page. unbelievable, i truly hope that isnt a bad omen for my performance in the final! we were informed we would be delayed at oxley, though we werent there for very long at all. we were then told that we would be delayed at sherwood for 15 minutes, though there was no major delay there either, so nothing majorly eventful for me to write about for sherwood station just yet. the delay at sherwood was maybe a few minutes, certainly less than 5, and we made our way through all remaining stations to central free of incident and delay (including taringa). when we got to roma street, the large digital clock on the suncorp building was only a few minutes behind where it normally was when we came in to roma street each morning, so all up, minimal delays for our caboolture train. i do hope everyone involved in the taringa incident was ok. police incidents at stations arent nice to think about. i guess i am a pessimist because i always think the worst when i hear that such an event has occurred at a train station.

after arriving at central, we opened the store. i had time for a quick bite to eat, and then went back to central to catch the gold coast train to helensvale station to meet nicole. when the gold coast train arrived on platform 1 of central i boarded and settled in to do a bit of study before i got to my destination. the journey to helensvale was just over an hour, so plenty of study time to brush up on a few topics before meeting up with my friend. the further south we went, the better the weather got. it was cold and miserable at dinmore when i boarded the train with karen early that morning, but by the time i disembarked at helensvale, the weather was beginning to fine up a little. when on the platform, i managed to get a few photos of helensvale station, before making my way to catch up with nicole. helensvale station is conveniently located in proximity to the westfield helensvale, and we briefly visited coles to get some tea before heading to her place for a day of solid revision. we were joined in our group session by nicoles cat, jasper, who enjoyed sitting on top of my lecture notes, and ended up with ink on his back leg and underbelly (i apologised profusely). despite the distraction of the gorgeous cat, our study session was fairly productive, whereby we tested one another and discussed most of the course content in depth. after many hours of revision, it was time to head back to the helensvale station for my journey back to central. it wasnt until i was back on the helensvale platform, that i realised i had left my camera in nicoles kitchen, and sadly was unable to get further photos of the station as i had intended. such a shame, but nevertheless, it gives me an opportunity to travel to helensvale again in the future to get a few extra shots of the station. still, a second visit to helensvale would have to wait until after exams! the journey from helensvale to central was mostly uneventful, though there were some interesting women on the train in the same carriage as me, who i am sure were drunk. the elderly gentleman who was sitting across from me would have agreed i am sure. i had hoped they would leave the train at beenleigh, alas, they rode all the way to central. their loud voices which carried through the entire carriage were a major distraction while i was trying to study, but there was nothing i could do. it was a packed train, so i couldnt really change carriages. i have said before that i dont really like sitting with other people, and would prefer to stand than sit with someone i dont know. so when i have a whole seat to myself, i wasnt about to give that up because of the uncouth pair. at central, i met up with karen who was waiting on platform 5, and we caught our ipswich train back to dinmore where the journey had begun more than 12 hours earlier. it was a long and eventful day, with a new station to add to my collection.

my first photo at helensvale station, taken on platform 1 when i had got off the train, this is a shot of the gold coast train i had caught to the station. this is a wifi enabled suburban multiple unit. the helensvale station is an island platform, similar to nerang, in that it is paved, unlike most of the other stations i have visited on the queensland rail network. i really like the paved effect, it makes the station look clean and presentable. considering i started my journey at dinmore, which has a small amount of paving but has a mostly uneven bitumen platform, helensvale was a huge contrast. this was indeed a pleasant station to visit. looking at this shot, to the left of the shot heading north the next station is coomera. to the right, heading south along the gold coast line, the next station is nerang. the train has an advertisement on its side promoting safety at level crossings. while it is difficult to see inside the train because of the image, you can see out of the windows perfectly as you enjoy your journey.

the gold coast train departs helensvale station, bound for nerang. this is a great shot of the train itself and the platform at helensvale station as well. this is platform 1 at helensvale station. helensvale is an island platform, where the tracks run either side of the station. i really like the paving at this station, just like nerang. when compared to the bitumen at poor dinmore which has been dug up many times for repairs. dinmore is due for an upgrade in coming months, so it will be interesting if the poor dinmore platforms receive some nice paving on its platforms like here at helensvale. how good does that train look while it passes the station! this model of train is incredibly elegant, the look incredibly sexy as they approach a station while you are waiting on the platform. 

another nice shot that shows off the paving on the helensvale platform. i got this shot at the coomera end of helensvale station, looking north in the direction of coomera. this time you can see that the helensvale station is an island platform. platform 1 is on the right of the picture, platform 2 is on the left. the gold coast train arrives on platform 1, the brisbane city and airport train on platform 2. look at that station sign, helensvale station is represented by a stunning clear bold font. when the queensland rail staff were at dinmore one morning asking for feedback for the station upgrade, i asked if they could use a bold font on the station sign. i wonder if it will happen? it would be nice if it did! you can see that the sky is beginning to clear, and it was going to be a pretty nice day. such a shame we were going to be inside studying!

taken from the platform 1 side of the helensvale platform, looking north along the track in the direction of coomera. this is the track that the gold coast train had arrived on a few minutes earlier. i think the lighting in this photo is pretty good, considering it was a pretty crappy morning. you can see in the distance where the two track which run either side of the island platform at helensvale meet to form a single track, which runs from coomera to helensvale.

taken from the platform 2 side of the helensvale island platform, looking north along the track in the direction of coomera. the stretch of gold coast line from coomera to helensvale is currently a single track which branches into two to go either side of the island platforms at coomera and helensvale. from what i have been able to find out, the rest of the gold coast line is duplicated other than this one stretch. i hope that some time soon the tracks between coomera and helensvale are duplicated for completeness of the gold coast line. the gold coast line is one of the busiest lines on the network, with many commuters traveling north each morning to brisbane for work, then traveling home again to the gold coast. this is 2014 not 1914, so it is pretty sad that the line isnt fully duplicated in this day and age. hopefully when the line is extended past varsity lakes in the future, this stretch will be upgraded.

i got this photo from the coomera end of platform 1 at helensvale. the paving on the platform is highlighted in this shot, but i was mainly trying to show the bushland behind the station. when we were children we used to go exploring in bushland like this that wasnt far from our house. we would climb trees and generally spend most of the day exploring. we once discovered a small body of water, like a dam, but much much smaller. we didnt swim in it, as we figured it was part of someones property for their animals to drink from. (i guess that is proof that my phobia for germs was well established before my age had even hit double figures!) we got ourselves lost plenty of times, but always managed to home before dark, and naturally never told our mother where we had been or what we had been up to. whenever i see bushland like this, i always think of those days and the fun we used to have as kids. in this case, i dont think the bushland here is overly dense, as there is a road behind it which ultimately links up with the gold coast highway. behind the road though is the coombabah creek and the coombabah lake conservation park. it is amazing to think that this is the view to the east of helensvale station, and the view to the west is the westfield helensvale shopping center. i guess that is progress!

if you have been reading my blog for a while, you know i dont need to say it; as i have said it many many times over in the past, but seriously the bold font on a station sign looks so much more impressive than the small italicised fonts that some stations are relegated to. here the helensvale station sign proudly shots out its name from platform 1. it is a little bit hard to see, but if you look close enough, you can see the anti bird spikes on top of the station sign. we learned about this in third year of pharmacy, that they are designed to stop birds from setting up camp in public areas because of the fact they can spread viruses, and their droppings can be a health hazard. it was actually rather interesting. i had always thought that these spikes were only in place because it stopped birds congregating and pooing onto public areas, such as above tables where humans may sit and eat. i hadnt thought of the other aspects such as the avian viruses and other pathogens which could be transmitted. this is one of the reasons that the helensvale sign has anti bird spikes, as it is above the seating that the commuters use whilst waiting for train. the station exit is to the left of the photo and will take you out where you will face towards the westfield shopping center. the shopping center isnt visible in this shot, but this photo is taken looking in the direction of the westfield.

i got this shot on platform 1, looking the length of the platform in the direction of nerang, the next station heading south on the gold coast line. platform 2 is to the right of the photo, out of picture. the gold coast train has left helensvale station and rounded the bend in the track as it speeds its way towards nerang. the blue disabled sign is on the platform as a suggested waiting area for people who require assistance to board trains whether they are wheelchair bound or on a mobility scooter or some other means of wheeled transport. the guard will ride in the front of the second train in a six car unit (which is simply two trains joined together). the guard will unfold a portable ramp which they use to link the platform with the train carriage, and thus allowing the people to board the train. i think it would be pretty awesome to be a guard, you would get to ride in the trains and set foot on each platform along the journey. i imagine many guards have been to all of the stations of the network. i dont know how many other non queensland rail employees have visited every station, but to quote anakin skywalker: i want to be the first one to see them all. you can see that the scrub behind the station is a bit thinner the further down the platform you head towards the nerang end.

i got this shot on the platform 1 side of the helensvale station, looking across at platform 1. because helensvale is an island platform, it is essentially one large platform with a track either side, which is how the only platform can have two numbers. i was in approximately the middle of the platform when i got this photo, as i wanted to show off the elevator which is on the platform to assist people who cannot use the stairs because of either impaired mobility or if they have a pram or lots of luggage for example. i suppose there are also the lazy people who this will cater to perfectly, but i am certainly not one for elevators. i did ride one when i was at toowong in the hope of being able to get a photo from the balcony, however it would have been years since i had been in an elevator up until that day. i do however think that having elevators at the stations are a great idea, as i certainly see their purpose and how they can be incredibly helpful. i simply choose to use the steps provided. if you look towards the top of the photo, you can see what looks like the underneath of a walkway. this is correct, there is a walkway which links the station entrance with the platforms below. i got this photo looking in the direction of the station entrance. a short walk from the station entrance in this direction will take you to the westfield which is clearly visible from the station.

it would be remiss of me to not get a shot of this beauty. i love these things, they are incredibly helpful. perhaps here at helensvale it is not entirely critical to have one, just like the one at toowong, as these stations have screens which display the next train and when it is scheduled to arrive. however at stations which lack the facility of overhead screens, these things are like gold. the amount of times i have heard people press them when i have been at dutton park is too numerous to mention. needless to say, if you arrived at dutton park and pressed the button, you heard when the next ferny grove was due to arrive, then a few seconds afterwards someone else would turn up and do the same thing. i have heard where it has been pressed numerous times and virtually counted down the train from the entire 15 minutes between departures. this machine is located on platform 1 of helensvale station, near the middle of the platform. you can see it is the middle of the platform, because the blue mat for people who require boarding assistance is in the background on the left.

this is not a tardis, but an elevator on the platform at helensvale station. the sign on the elevator reads: should this lift be out of service, please contact the passenger services officer on 3606 5555 or use the station help phone. i have also found a text message number for the passenger services officer, and figured that here is as good a place as any to post this number: 0428 774 636. these numbers could possibly come in handy for people who dont travel the trains often of even those who are regular commuters. since this is the most amazingly informative blog about trains on the queensland rail network, i figured that if this info benefits at least one person, than it has been worthwhile including. this elevator links the platform with the station office above. the station entry and exit are above the platforms at helensvale, whereas at nerang the platforms are above the entry and exit points. 

i got this shot on platform 2, looking in the direction of nerang. this shot was taken somewhere around the halfway mark along the platform, maybe slightly towards the nerang end, but not by much. the brisbane city and airport train arrives on this platform from varsity lakes, after it has traveled through robina and nerang. the carpark for helensvale station is out of view in this shot, but it is just to the right of the shot behind the trees. there is a rather generous car park which certainly rivals that of what i am used to at dinmore. hopefully once dinmore itself is upgraded, it will be able to rival helensvale in aesthetics as well as parking spaces.

this photo was taken on platform 1, looking along the platform in the direction of coomera. i got this shot from virtually the same point on the platform as the last photo, though this time i am on the platform 1 side. i couldnt get a shot looking down the platform in the direction of nerang because there were still people on the platform, and i am trying to avoid having any humans in my shots. occasionally one may sneak in, and i am sorry for that, but i have made the best efforts possible to avoid capturing them in my shots. helensvale is surprisingly popular at this time of morning during the week!

this photo is incredibly self explanatory. the one good thing about island platforms is that they eliminate the need for going up and over the tracks to go to a platform on the other side of the rail line. here at helensvale this sign, as simple as it is, helps to direct those passengers who may be confused as to which side of the station they are best to wait on for their train. the gold coast train arrives on platform 1, the city and airport train arrives on platform 2. with some careful and strategic framing, i managed to get another helensvale station sign in this picture, just for fun. 

bold fonts all the way! helensvale station sign at the nerang end of the platform. i walked the length of the platform in search of descent photos sans humans in them, and this one doesnt look half bad. the car park for the helensvale station is at the top of the hill which is behind the track on platform 2. there is a rather large and spacious parking area, which puts most stations to shame. at least in the car park department, dinmore can hold its own, even if it is not the most beautiful station on the network. it is amusing that i am blogging about visiting nicole, who now uses helensvale as her primary station. she previously was based at robina, and moved house and now calls helensvale station home. there is a similarity there as i no longer call norman park home, but mainly use dinmore. she still occasionally uses robina when visiting family, and i still use norman park when visiting marie or we have things to do on that side of town. nicole and i both have a long way to travel to uni of a morning and can both appreciate the goodness that is a quiet carriage in an express train with wifi.

i got this shot approaching the nerang end of the platform. the last time i was in a position like this on at a station on the gold coast line, was at nerang itself and there was a man smoking a cigarette, and for the life of me i had so much trouble getting a photo without him in it. this time, no one was smoking thankfully (read my toowong blog if you want my opinions on smoking. i think i said more than enough there!) platform 1 is on the left, and platform 2 is on the right. 

this is the view from looking south along the gold coast line from the nerang end of the helensvale platform. so far i have only been as far south as nerang station itself, so while this isnt the furtherst point of my travels, it is still a significant photo. notice how the tracks dont converge into a single track, but remain separate. this is a contrast from my shots at the coomera end of the platform, where a single track diverges into two to surround the island platform here at helensvale station. from here the trains travel at nearly 100km/h or 60miles/hour between helensvale and the remaining stops: nerang, robina and varsity lakes. the trains that service the gold coast line are the faster model trains, which usually have wifi. from leaving helensvale, in about 15 minutes your train will be at varsity lakes, and the end of the gold coast line. i still havent visited robina or varsity lakes stations just yet, but hopefully get to some time soon! the track to the left takes the gold coast train to nerang, the track on the right bring the airport train in to helensvale station.

i agonised over the inclusion of this photo for some time, and have decided to include it; simply because it is descriptive of the platform, hillside and the waiting areas near the carpark above the station. this is the view from the nerang end of helensvale, looking towards the station exit. to exit the station itself, you need to go up the stairs (or elevator....) and walk over the track on platform 2. in front of the humans you can see standing waiting for vehicular transport, there is a large car park stretching longer than the length of the station. it is divided essentially up the middle by a walkway which leads to the westfield shopping center, where we went on search of tea from coles. the station exit is essentially behind the bushy trees towards the top right of the photo. the track which is partially in the shot is the northbound track which takes the airport train from helensvale to coomera, ormeau and beenleigh, then will run express to loganlea where it will stop again, then from loganlea it will run express to altandi. after altandi it will run express again to park road, where it will stop all stations from park road to the airport. this means that to get to pace, nicole needs to change trains at park road and catch a beenleigh back one station from park road to dutton park. alternatively she could get a ferny grove from altandi and ride it all stations from altandi to dutton park, but this would take longer, so the first option is the one that makes the most sense. all up her journey is the best part of an hour, and that is just to get to park road. remember, the trains on this line travel at essentially 100km/h along the tracks between the stations beyond beenleigh. there is just over 60km in distance from helensvale to park road, so im sure the passengers of the gold coast line can appreciate the trains running express! hopefully some day the ipswich becomes an express service all the time and if you wish to use the stations from milton to oxley, you would catch a springfield train. it would certainly speed up our journey during off peak periods! hopefully when the moreton bay rail link is finished, this will happen!

the staircase. for those people who, like me, cannot stand elevators; fear not! the stair are the most appropriate way to exit the station unless you require assistance for mobility issues or are incredibly lazy. this staircase is located at the nerang end of the helensvale station. platform 2 is on the left, and platform 1 is on the right. as the sign above the staircase says, this is the way to the exit. at the top of the stairs you turn left and head over the northbound track, which brings you out looking in the direction of the westfield. the walkway over the tracks is actually pretty cool, because it is enclosed and you can see the rail line and platform really well. i actually attempted a photo from there (coming up shortly) to show the view. it looks like the platform is deserted in this shot. that couldnt be further from the truth, i was just incredibly fortunate to get a humanless photo from this angle. the airport train was due to arrive shortly, and people were hanging around the platform waiting for it. lately i have made an art form of getting photos of train station platforms without people in them.

taken from the top of the staircase in the previous photo. the nerang end of the platform is behind me, and i am looking towards the coomera end. the elevator is in the middle of this elevated platform (concourse?) area, which extends to the left of the photo out beyond the fare gates and to the station exit. there is another staircase behind the elevator to take passengers to the coomera end of the platform. this shot probably doesnt quite do justice to the area, as it looks rather dark. i think that is because it was an overcast and generally crappy morning when i arrived at helensvale. i would imagine that on a good day, this area receives a lot of light and is no where near as dark as it appears in this shot.

this is the view of the northbound track and platform 2 of helensvale station, looking in the direction of coomera. taken from the walkway which joins the station office and exit (to the left of the shot) to the staircases and elevator (to the right). considering how many people were actually waiting on the platform for the airport train, i think i did incredibly well to get this shot without any humans spoiling it. as i was walking along this walkway, i stopped to get this photo, and i am sure the station guard at the fare gates thought i was strange. i had wanted to get more photos, and figured i could do so on my return to the station after we had finished studying. sadly, this didnt eventuate, but i think this shot is still rather descriptive. in the distance near the top right of the shot you can see that the tracks converge into a single track. the stretch of the gold coast line that lies between helensvale and coomera is a single track. i really hope that some day it is duplicated. the station car park stretches for a fair distance to the left of the photo, behind the trees which line the retaining wall. the building to the left is part of the station office.

this is probably not the most exciting photo to appear in my blog, but i actually really like this shot of a large helensvale sign that hangs near the station exit. i really like the old queensland rail logo on the left of the sign, and the fact that the sign uses a bold font. (its all about the font!) i also like the colour scheme used in this sign, even if i am a fan of the new station signs with the grey background. there is a walkway that links the station with the westfield shopping center which is so close to the station i could still see it without my glasses, even if it was insanely blurry. im not quite sure what it is about this photo, but i really like it. i hope that when dinmore is upgraded it is beautified a little and captures some of the modern looks of some of the really aesthetic stations. i have been past beerburrum on my journey to glasshouse mountains, and while that station is a touch controversial at how significantly it was upgraded, and it is highly unlikely dinmore will receive the same treatment, i would be more than happy with it having something as simple as covered platforms like here at helensvale and some nice clear signage like this one above.

i had to wait for a good 10 or 15 minutes to get this photo! it was incredibly difficult because there were so many people walking around near the station exit, that to get this photo human fee was incredibly difficult. i not only had passengers arriving at the helensvale station who kept trickling through the fare gates, but i also had to contend with the people waiting outside the station who would occasionally walk past, and of course the station guard who was walking along the fare gates patrolling his station, and making it impossible to get a shot of the station from a front on view without any people in it. i had to resign myself to this angled shot of the station office, to the left of the shot, and this incredibly cool kiosk to the right. the walkway to the westfield is out of picture to the right, and essentially leads directly from the station entrance. the helensvale station toilets are to the left, out of picture, along the front of the station building. there is a very sizable carpark at helensvale, which is divided by the walkway. i was waiting near here when nicole texted to say she was at the station. it was great to catch up with her, as exam block is not only incredibly stressful, but it is also incredibly isolating. i have never been one to miss human interaction, but as she is a people person, i think she was glad someone had come all the way to helensvale for a day of study with her.

looking northwards, the station itself is behind me and to the right. this is a shot of the northern arm of the carpark at helensavle station. there are regular buses while leave from here at the station and go to movie world and wet n wild. the toilets are located just to the right of the shot. again, there was a large degree of difficulty in getting this shot sans humans. there were many of them waiting on this platform, either for buses or friends/family members to come and pick them up. the walkway to westfield is to the left of the shot, out of picture. the westfield itself is incredibly close to the station. i was waiting here when nicole texted t say she had just parked her car and was walking up to the station. helensvale, aside from dinmore, has one of the biggest carparks i have seen. actually nerang had a pretty descent car park too. there is meant to be a large parking facility going in at springfield central, so hopefully i get back there some time soon to see it once it is completed. the paving at helensvale still looks fairly clean and classy even today when it is nearly 20 years old. it is cool that the train platforms as well as the bus platforms are paved, as this gives a lovely level of consistency and uniformity to the station. i always looked at this pavers like tetris when i was a child. i guess in a way i still do. that falling brick game has had a hold over my life since i first played it!

the walkway to westfield. i am not exactly a fan of going shopping. too many people, too noisy, too many lights flashing and loud music booming out of clothing shops which are incredibly difficult to differentiate between. my idea of shopping is either doing the groceries, looking in sports stores or my all time favourite: book shopping! i am sure i have most of angus and robertson in my house. when nicole found me loitering suspiciously on the platform here in front of the station, we walked over the the coles at westfield to purchase some tea bags. i was a little worried as i didnt have a receipt for the cupcakes i had purchased the night before, ironically from coles in ipswich (not far from the station). i was worried i would have been at helensvale for about 20 minutes and been accused of stealing, but thankfully that didnt happen. (in all honesty, who thinks of bringing their red velvet cupcake receipt with them when they go to visit a friend! most of the time i dont even leave the house with my wallet!) for once i was glad for the irritating humanless self serve registers nicole chose to go through to scan her tea. i have always hated those things. have you ever tried to buy lego mini figures using them? here is a tip: dont. it is impossible. they are too light. as for a birthday car and wrapping paper. forget it. i am not a people person, but give me a human controlled counter any day! after coles, we walked back along here to nicoles car, and began our day of serious exam study.

when you gotta go, you gotta go! after a long train ride to helensvale, knowing where the toilets are could be a useful thing to point out, and in keeping with my previous entry about a station on the gold coast line, where i got a photo of the toilets at nerang, here they are at helensvale! to access the toilets you actually have to exit the station, by going through the fare gates, and turning right. the toilets here are actually rather nice considering how much i loathe public toilets. you do have to give the door a pretty descent push to get in though i discovered, because on my first attempt, i actually thought they were locked. they werent, you just need to push harder than you do for toilets in a shopping center. the entrance to the station itself is to the right of this shot. after arriving at helensvale station, i got a few photos, then texted nicole to let her know i was here, and to please not rush, as i was more than happy exploring her station. we met up a short time later, she arrived at the station, and we walked to the westfield to go to coles in search of a particular tea. nicole, like me, loves a good cup of tea. once we had the tea, we walked back to the station where she had parked. after a short drive, we were at her place where i finally got to meet her cat, jasper. i am a tragic when it comes to animals, if you havent read my wacol blog, perhaps reading it will help you to understand why i prefer animals over humans! her cat is absolutely gorgeous, and he insisted on being a part of our study session. he climbed up on the table and sat with our books as we quizzed each other and attempted practice exam questions. i realised just how much work i need to do if i am to get straight 7s because nicole had done so much more work than i had, almost to the point whereby i felt embarrassed at having only written out the lecture notes for the term by hand once, instead of the multiple times she had done. it was a privileged to get to study with her, and as our session drew to an end we packed up and she drove me back to the helensvale station. i had planned on getting a few more shots of the station while waiting for my airport train, but alas, i had left my camera at her place, as it was in the same back as the cupcakes i had brought down to assist us with study. after realising that i wasnt able to get any further photos, i was pretty cranky with myself, but this was a forcing function to make me study until the train came. when it arrived, it was an older model train, with no wifi. this was another sign from the gods that i really needed to do more study. that train was probably one of the most comfortable i had ever been in, i am sure it was an interurban multiple unit 120 series, but sadly i wasnt able to get a photo of it! it would have been far more fitting to end my helensvale blog with a shot of the train i rode back to central to meet karen when she finished work. but no, that sadly wasnt to be. the journey back to central may have been ergonomically comfortable, in my quiet carriage with my study notes, but of course i had to be joined in my quiet carriage by some very loud women who road all the way to central with me. as i said earlier, i hoped they would disembark at beenleigh, and when they didnt, i hoped with every station we stopped at that they would leave our carriage. i tried to amuse myself with the practice exams and lecture notes for our upcoming exams, but when you have an attention deficit disorder, it makes concentration for long periods of time rather difficult. throw in some hyperactivity, and it is a wonder i actually sit still long enough to study at all or to get these blogs done! needless to say, after a full day of studying, i felt slightly more confident in some areas of study, and highly deficient in others. somehow i was lucky enough to negotiate exam block and pass everything, though i truly believe most of the credit goes to my friends and their intense group study session at the pace library, and my session with nicole here at helensvale. the day involved collecting a new station, catching up with a friend, cake, tea and a very cute cat, plus a fair bit of study. hopefully i get back to helensvale again to catch up with nicole, and finish off this entry on a much more interesting note than a shot of the toilets!

so i finally got back to helensvale station! i had to wait until mid term break at the end of september for a second visit to this station, and once again, the visit involved a major study session (ie freak out session) with nicole. it seems so long ago that i had been at this station, but it was only in the last exam block. somehow we both managed to get marks that surprised us in a good way, and so it was decided that another study session as indeed a must! and so, on this fine and sunny day, i made my way from dinmore to central, where i helped karen at her store for a short time, purchased second breakfast, and headed back to central to catch a gold coast train. perhaps it was unwise to top up my go card before checking the passenger information display screens, because as i descended the stairs to platform 1, i could see the gold coast trains doors closing and i stood there as it departed. such a shame, this was going to set me back a full half hour. not to panic, a shorncliffe train was due on platform 3, so i went back up the steps as fast as my legs could carry me (i require a complete knee reconstruction, so i am not as fast as i used to be. i will have to wait until after exams to have the surgery, it is too much of a hassle to have it now!) i got the shorncliffe, and rode it to bowen hills, where a quick check of the display screen showed that there was no gold coast due there in the next six trains, so i jumped back on and rode the shorncliffe to eagle junction. i stepped off the train at eagle junction, and the gold coast was due to arrive in one minute, perfect timing! i then rode this beautiful train from eagle junction to helensvale station, where i managed to get a few photos of the station before i met up with nicole for our study session which lasted until late afternoon. we were incredibly productive and nailed a number of practice exam cases, though when i saw the amount of work she has been putting in to study, i felt embarrassed at my lack of productivity during the term. she averages filling an exercise book a day with notes. not just a little one, but full a4 one. yeah, i need to work a lot harder if i am to be in the upper echelon of the cohort with straight 7s! still, the number of 7s i have been getting has actually been pretty high considering the amount of time i spend on my blog!

i got this shot of the gold coast train that i rode from eagle junction to helensvale as it sat on platform 1. it was such a beautiful day, it seemed like such a shame to spend it studying, but study is essential if i intend to pass my final exams! one thing i have noticed about helensvale is that it is incredibly difficult to get a descent shot of the station without stray humans ruining my photos!!

this picture nearly didnt get taken, people walking through my shot almost made me give up on getting a shot of the gold coast as she departs platform 1 of helensvale station, bound for nerang. helensvale station is incredibly popular, and each time i have been on the platform, there have been numerous people sitting waiting for a train. it makes it incredibly difficult to get photos of the station, but at least i managed to get this one after much persistence! look at that beautiful sky, such a shame we couldnt enjoy more of the beautiful day! at least we did study outside in the fresh air, with nicoles cat to keep us company. 

i got this shot on the platform 1 side of the island platform, more towards the nerang end of the station. not my best photo, but the best i could do in the situation, and it does have a station sign! i swear i will have to try to get to helensvale insanely early one morning so that i can get some better shots of this station. it is incredibly hard to have to frame everything discretely around the humans who annoyingly walk through my shots, totally oblivious as the disruption they are causing. at least you can see the fancy new age bins on display at helensvale station from this shot. it looks as though people use them too, which is good to see, though i am not entirely sure that confectionery packet is recyclable! nevertheless, these bins are pretty cool. sadly with all the terrorist threats and insanity surrounding the security around brisbane for the g20 summit, the bins at a lot of the inner city stations have been taken out of service. i presume this measure is to prevent idiots planting bombs in bins and blowing up platforms, trains, infrastructure and taking a lot of innocent as well. the sad thing is that there are so many other things that they can do to disable out network or cripple this city. it is indeed a sad state of affairs when the world comes to this, and i find it incredibly heartbreaking. i wish the world would come to its senses, and the humans could all begin to get along a lot better with each other. the bin closures themselves dont particularly bother me. i always have a spare plastic bag in my backpack (you just never know when you will need to vomit, it is always good to be prepared!) so taking rubbish with me hasnt bothered me in the least. a lot of people were going off about this on facebook, and other social media outlets; but i think the point has been missed: the world has indeed gone crazy. so many pathetic individuals who think they are god by terrorizing innocent people who are going about their normal daily lives. it is because of all this kind of negativity that i have essentially given up watching news and reading the paper (other than the sport, but now that footy is finished for the year, i wont be watching that either!) i dont care who you are, what religion, race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, which footy team you support and whether you like star wars: if you engage in terror activities, you are less than human, and the world would be a better place without you in it. 

i had a shot similar to this the first time i was at this station, but this one has much better lighting, and the sky is much happier. besides, i had to wait a good 5 or so minutes for a person to move out of my shot to be able to get this photo, so with all that perseverance, i wasnt going to throw this photo away! i got this shot from the platform 2 side of the helensvale station, looking south towards the nerang end of the platform. and of course, a helensvale station sign is in a lovely prominent position! platform 1 is on the left of the photo, where the gold coast train passed by earlier after i disembarked along with many other commuters. the airport train was due on platform 2 in a little while, so the crowd was starting to build. good for the station, bad for me though!

anyone who doesnt like the bold font on the station signs, look at this photo of the helensvale sign and weep. it is brilliant, it stands out and is visible from afar. it also takes up the majority of the sign (optimisation of space) which is great. i also noticed about this particular sign that it wasnt insanely tall, and that i was able to get this photo on almost level terms with the sign. yes, camera is elevated slightly above head height, but not anywhere near as much as some of my previous blogs have required of me! platform 1 is in the background of this photo, which i got at the nerang end of the station.

finally no humans in my shot! you have no idea how long this photo took to get! they just dont like vacating, and i dont like talking to people, so i am highly unlikely to ask them to move. i am far more likely to shake my head at their bahaviour and stand there annoyed until they move! i have never liked talking to people, nor liked confrontations with them. however, if someone does annoy me, i can indeed be viscous in reprisal. i certainly think i have a personality better suited to a lab than a retail pharmacy, but perhaps with time i may improve my people skills. unlikely, but indeed possible. nothing is impossible if you work hard enough. i got this photo at the nerang end of the helensvale platform, looking north towards the center of the platform. platform 2 is on the left, and platform 1 is on the right. 

shot of the blog! it was definitely worth coming back to helensvale, if only for this photo. i think this shot on platform 2 looking across at platform 1 is probably my best photo at helensvale station. i have captured the station sign (of course) and the new age bins again as well. the staircase visible in the background on the left will take you up to the station exit, station office, bus interchange and a walkway to the westfield shopping center. this is certainly shot of the blog, and would have to be a rival for any photos of the station anywhere else on the internet. it is certainly better than the effort on wiki! 

i cant believe i missed this station map when i was first at this station! how remiss of me! at least i am making it right this time, by giving it a feature in this fascinating updated version of helensvale brought to you by jasper the ragdoll who has started to become a cult figure on instagram (you should follow him!) this map is at the top of the stairs which link the platforms below with the station exit and entrance. the staircase is behind me as i got this photo. there is another staircase to the right of this shot also. the staircase behind me leads to the coomera end of the station, and the one to the right leads to the nerang end of the station. there is also an elevator which is to the immediate right of this photo which can be used by people requiring mobility assistance, people with luggage and the very lazy. naturally, i will always choose the stairs. even after i have had my knee reconstruction, i wont be engaging in elevator riding. i truly despise riding in them. 

just because i dont like them, doesnt mean everyone else should suffer, so here is the dreaded elevator! the station map from the previous photo is to the left of this shot. there is a lovely wide staircase behind the elevator leading down to the nerang end of the helensvale platform, and also one of a similar girth behind where i was standing to take this photo. the staircases are certainly generous in size as if to attempt to encourage maximal commuter passage between the two levels. you can see the fare gates to the right of the photo. i wasnt able to get a wider shot because of the stray humans walking around the station. if only they knew how difficult they make my life! i feel like saying to them to get out of my shot, but i can predict their response would be to ask why the shot is warranted. if that was indeed their remark, then they clearly havent been reading my blog! perhaps i should get a shirt with my trainspotting logo printed on it so it will be more obvious to them why i require their prompt removal. then again, my anonymity would be compromised, and i seriously dont want that. i would love to get through all the stations of the network before anyone (apart from my friends) works out who i am.

i included a photo similar to this on my first visit, only the last time is was taken looking north. this time i have rotated 180 degrees, and have a shot looking south along the gold coast line towards nerang. it was certainly a much nicer day on this visit than the last one! such a shame to have to spend it stressing about university exam preparation! the platform visible in the photo is platform 2. the airport train was due to be arriving soon on this platform, and would then run express to park road stopping only at beenleigh, loganlea and altandi

how could i not include this fantastic station sign again!? this helensvale sign is indeed the mother of all station signs, just like the norwegian national flag is the mother of all flags (google it if you dont believe me, but i am correct). this sign is on prominent display at the station entrance, and proudly faces out towards the bus interchange and shopping center. the entrance to the station is behind the sign, thus you walk underneath it to get through the fare gates. when i was at the station on this particular day, it was a touch windy and the sign was actually moving with the wind. i am not sure exactly how high on the beaufort scale this sign is build to withstand, but i presume it was build to withstand descent wind gusts over prolonged periods of time without losing its integrity. it is might impressive though to stand under. i am sure the sign is twice as large as i am. i am totally loving the bold font too. it isnt that i dislike italics, but bold is just so much nicer for important things like this! i mean, could you imagine the beginning of star wars with the scrolling text in italics? yeah exactly, that would be just plain wrong! 

this is another photo that was incredibly hard to get! i swear helensvale station has been a real challenge for me, but i am not easily defeated! i had actually wanted to show the previous mother of all station signs in the same shot as the display screens which show when the trains are arriving, because i thought it would be cool to have the two together. alas: humans! the frustrating creatures kept walking though my shots as i frame them up while waiting for nicole. i had to settle with this effort, which turned out fairly well all things considered. the display on the left is for platform 2, which is home to the trains traveling inbound from varsity lakes to the airport stations. these trains stop all stations to beenleigh (ie stop at coomera and ormeau) then run express from beenleigh to park road stopping only at loganlea and altandi. in the past coopers plains was the station the train stopped at after loganlea, but this was changed to altandi to synchronize better with bus networks. coopers plains wasnt totally demoted though: it is now a terminating station for a shorter version of the beenleigh line! i think that is pretty fair compensation. the display on the right is for platform 1, home of the gold coast line. the trains stopping on this platform continue outbound from the city to nerang, robina and varsity lakes. hopefully sometime in the future the line will be extended past varsity lakes to coolangatta.   

after a full day of studying and doing practice exam questions until our brains turned to mush, nicole dropped me back to the helensvale station. when i was there in the morning i noticed this marquee beyond the carpark on the northern end of the station. when we were walking back to the railway station, nicole asked if i was going to take a photo of it, as she explained it was a circus that had only recently been erected. she said that if she had more time, she would have enjoyed attending. i love circuses. i think i could be one of those circus freaks who contorts themselves into bizarre and inhuman positions. i have always been hyperflexible, which is probably not a good thing for my joints. considering i have already had an ankle reconstruction and i now need a complete knee reconstruction, i think that that is a safe bet. sadly after the operation my left ankle is so stable now that my right one feels incredible loose in comparison (despite the fact it is technically healthy). i wonder if my knee will feel different after i have it fixed?

one last photo, which almost didnt happen. i was setting up my framing for this photo when a person wheeling a bicycle approached and almost got in my shot. honestly!! at least i have one last photo of helensvale station, which includes the station sign. the sun is setting over helensvale station, but not setting on our degree just yet. we still have one major exam block to negotiate. it wasnt long before i took this photo that the airport train arrived, and i boarded it back to roma street station. i was good, i actually did study on the train instead of using the lovely free wifi on offer. i do actually want to pass my exams you know! and i currently believe that no amount of study can actually save me, so i am seriously hoping for a small miracle! at roma street i boarded an ipswich train back to dinmore. i had missed karen, she had left on the ipswich train before mine (oops!) though i was only a few minutes behind her, so it wasnt all bad. it gave her an opportunity to get petrol and come back to dinmore just in time for our ipswich train to arrive. the sun had set on a very long and very cognitively intense day, but it was incredibly rewarding all the same. hopefully we are able to do one last major study session together before exam block begins (i know i need it!). and then after exams, who knows, we may actually get to catch up to hang out and enjoy each others company instead of stressing over upcoming exams! that sounds like a great idea to me.