Take the train to make the most out of this big and beautiful country.
It’s pretty much safe to say that international travel is off the cards. Qantas, for one, has said they’re unlikely to resume international flights until next July, and their only flight that does jet over blue seas is actually classified as domestic since it lands back at the airport it departed from. You do get to see Antarctica, though. And that’s something to tell the grandkids about: when everybody else was locked up in the country, I flew over the South Pole and yada-yada-yada.
However, there is a silver lining to not being able to travel overseas and that is we are now being forced to travel overland. And honestly, there’s no better way to explore and discover this vast and hugely diverse continent we call a country. Many of us know Europe, the US, or South America better than we know our own backyard. I say it’s time we see more of our own country with its winding rivers, white sandy beaches, lush tropical rainforests, red deserts, valleys, mountains, and native flora and fauna.
You could go on a road trip, but if there’s just the one driver onboard, then the task might seem a little daunting when facing the 3,933.7 km trip from Sydney to Perth. Luckily, there are at least four spectacular train journeys where passengers cross the country from coast to coast through varying regions and climates in the comfort of their climate-controlled carriage.
There’s also ample legroom, sleeper carriages and reclining seats, all-inclusive dining with fine wines and beers, and tailored off-train experiences because what you see through the train window is just a glimpse of what is out there beyond the railway line.
1. Indian Pacific
Sydney – Adelaide – Perth
This just might be the most epic Australian train journey of them all. To travel from coast to coast, from east to west or vice versa, means four days and three nights onboard the Indian Pacific to complete the 4352km crossing.
Leave Australia’s biggest city behind and wake up in the country on the second day. Can you spot any animals over breakfast?
You will venture past vineyards and goldmines, past majestic mountains and eventually through the Nullarbor in luxury with meals based on regional specialities, fine wines and other beverages as well as exploring off-train experiences in Broken Hill, Adelaide, Cook, and Rawlinna. There’ll be time for a walkabout in Kalgoorlie too.
Can you imagine what it would be like to eat dinner under the stars in the desert? Hop aboard and you won’t have to.
Travellers are also able to begin or end their journey in Adelaide.
Fun fact: the Nullarbor contains the longest stretch of straight track anywhere in the world.
2. The Ghan
Adelaide – Alice Springs – Darwin
The Ghan is legendary.
Though not as long as the Indian Pacific, it does just happen to travel through the Red Centre, which we think is a visit every Aussie should consider making at least once in their lifetime.
Over three days and two nights, travellers will leave behind the city of churches and Australia’s most prestigious wine region for the fiery outback, which they will witness at sunrise on day two, before making a stop in Alice Springs and then crossing into the tropical north.
Immersive off-train experiences such as a cruise in the Nitmiluk Gorge or a brief stay on an outback cattle station, bring The Ghan to life and make this a trip to remember.
Again, travellers are able to begin or end their journey in Alice Springs or Darwin. They can also use the Indian Pacific or The Overland to reach Adelaide from either Perth, Sydney or Melbourne to begin their Ghan adventure.
Fun Fact: The Ghan supposedly gets its name from the Afghan camels and camel drivers who used to carry supplies up to Alice Springs before the railway existed.
3. Great Southern
Adelaide – Brisbane via Canberra and Coffs Harbour
With only one season under its belt, the Great Southern is quickly becoming a hit.
Linking Adelaide and Brisbane through parts of Victoria, Canberra and Coffs Harbour, travellers on The Great Southern will relax and unwind as some of Australia’s most spectacular landscapes pass by. The Grampians, with its sandstone mountain and wildlife, make for brilliant views while a stop in Canberra allows those on board a chance to stretch their legs and explore the art and culture of the nation’s capital before the sandy shores of Coffs Harbour come calling their names.
Covid-19: please note that due to the route passing through Victoria and New South Wales, there remains a possibility that the journey and its experiences may need to be adapted in order to ensure the health and safety of all those on board.
4. The Overland
Adelaide – Melbourne
The day-long service between Adelaide and Melbourne has operated for over 130 years already and thanks to support from the Victorian government, the twice-a-week trips will continue for the near future. And to be frank, this has got to be our favourite way of travelling between the two cities.
Not only do you get ample legroom and up to 60kg of luggage, but you also get to skip the airport. And, it’s only $114pp making it totally worth it when considering the awesome beauty you get to see along the way.
Covid-19: please note that The Overland is scheduled to resume services from November 2.
Journey Beyond Rail, the operators of these coast to coast rail journeys, do more than just get you from your point A to point B. Combining their rail journeys with off-train experiences, Journey Beyond Rail gives travellers the opportunity to explore, discover, and experience the best that Australia has to offer.
Think wineries in the Barossa Valley or McLaren Vale when in Adelaide; Kakadu National Park and double waterfalls when in Darwin; a swim with whales when in Western Australia; and a surf in Surfers Paradise when in Queensland.
Since we’re not blowing a wad of cash in Europe for the time being, we might as well spend it here in Australia and support our economy.
(Featured image: journeybeyondrail)