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Long Distance Train Travel -the Aussie version

Long Distance Train Travel -the Aussie version

Old Jul 14th 2020, 5:00 am
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Default Long Distance Train Travel -the Aussie version

Love train travel, think I get that from my Dad. So as I can't go home I need somewhere to go to keep me from losing my mind, and someone suggested trying for a trip on the Ghan next year. That really appeals - I'm thinking maybe Adelaide to Darwin in May? - has anyone done either that or any other long distance Aus train trip?
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Old Jul 14th 2020, 8:24 am
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Default Re: Long Distance Train Travel -the Aussie version

I did melbourne to sydney on the sleeper a few times. it is cheaper to fly though. i enjoyed it apart from the time i had to share with a guy who brought a pungent curry with him for his dinner!
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Old Jul 14th 2020, 9:07 am
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Default Re: Long Distance Train Travel -the Aussie version

I've been on the Indian Pacific a couple of times - both times Sydney to Perth. Once in 1980 and again in 2015. I also did the Ghan in 2015 but travelling North to South.

As long as you have a sleeper, the trains are great; very comfortable beds, lovely food and free drinks too. Coffee and tea were available 24 hours. The tickets include free tours at various stops en route which are great. Trains are not so comfy if you only travel in a reclining seat as you're limited to buffet car style food and you have to pay extra for the tours.

Staff were friendly and efficient and everything on the trains ran like clockwork. We really enjoyed the tours that were included in the ticket price. Travelling south from Darwin we stopped at Katharine and had a fantastic boat and walking trip in the Gorge, later in Alice Springs we did a tour of the town which included the Telegraph Station. Wasn't long but gave us a taste of the district. The Ghan (going south, anyway) is only two nights on the train, you leave Darwin mid-morning and arrive in Adelaide 48 hours later.

The Indian Pacific is very similar but a longer trip as you're on that train for three nights. Both trains are run by the same company so the deal is the same - good food, free drinks and very well organised tours included. The free tours travelling to Perth included a short trip round Broken Hill, an amazing Barossa Valley visit including dinner at Maggie Beer's and then a dinner stop at an outback sheep station in the middle of nowhere. You get plenty of opportunity to meet other travellers as you share restaurant car tables each mealtime plus there's a nice lounge car with a bar.

Have to admit that you wouldn't do these trips for the scenery. Once you've had a quick glimpse of the Nullarbor or the SA desert, you've seen it. The attraction of the trains are the various interesting (to me, anyway) stops and the whole experience of crossing the continent in a very comfortable fashion. I'd love to do the trips again travelling in the opposite direction.

Edited to add that I've also travelled Sydney to Brisbane (1 night) and then onto Cairns (1 night) by train. Not so good as the other long-distance trains as the food options were limited, no nice restaurant cars sadly. Done Adelaide to Melbourne and Melbourne to Sydney too but they were both day trips and no sleepers involved. Like you - we like trains, too!

Last edited by NickyC; Jul 14th 2020 at 9:13 am.
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Old Jul 14th 2020, 7:20 pm
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Default Re: Long Distance Train Travel -the Aussie version

Originally Posted by NickyC View Post
I've been on the Indian Pacific a couple of times - both times Sydney to Perth. Once in 1980 and again in 2015. I also did the Ghan in 2015 but travelling North to South.

As long as you have a sleeper, the trains are great; very comfortable beds, lovely food and free drinks too. Coffee and tea were available 24 hours. The tickets include free tours at various stops en route which are great. Trains are not so comfy if you only travel in a reclining seat as you're limited to buffet car style food and you have to pay extra for the tours.

Staff were friendly and efficient and everything on the trains ran like clockwork. We really enjoyed the tours that were included in the ticket price. Travelling south from Darwin we stopped at Katharine and had a fantastic boat and walking trip in the Gorge, later in Alice Springs we did a tour of the town which included the Telegraph Station. Wasn't long but gave us a taste of the district. The Ghan (going south, anyway) is only two nights on the train, you leave Darwin mid-morning and arrive in Adelaide 48 hours later.

The Indian Pacific is very similar but a longer trip as you're on that train for three nights. Both trains are run by the same company so the deal is the same - good food, free drinks and very well organised tours included. The free tours travelling to Perth included a short trip round Broken Hill, an amazing Barossa Valley visit including dinner at Maggie Beer's and then a dinner stop at an outback sheep station in the middle of nowhere. You get plenty of opportunity to meet other travellers as you share restaurant car tables each mealtime plus there's a nice lounge car with a bar.

Have to admit that you wouldn't do these trips for the scenery. Once you've had a quick glimpse of the Nullarbor or the SA desert, you've seen it. The attraction of the trains are the various interesting (to me, anyway) stops and the whole experience of crossing the continent in a very comfortable fashion. I'd love to do the trips again travelling in the opposite direction.

Edited to add that I've also travelled Sydney to Brisbane (1 night) and then onto Cairns (1 night) by train. Not so good as the other long-distance trains as the food options were limited, no nice restaurant cars sadly. Done Adelaide to Melbourne and Melbourne to Sydney too but they were both day trips and no sleepers involved. Like you - we like trains, too!
Thats great info thanks! Part of the appeal is the chance to do several tours en route, like you describe, so its good to know that they are worth doing! I'm leanin towards doing the Ghan, but certainly haven't ruled out the Indian Pacific - I doubt I'll ever get to holiday at home again, so I've got plenty of time to do both in the next few years!
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Old Jul 14th 2020, 8:28 pm
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Default Re: Long Distance Train Travel -the Aussie version

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Ghan

I have pencilled this in as a MUST DO after winning The Lottery.
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Old Jul 15th 2020, 12:14 am
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Default Re: Long Distance Train Travel -the Aussie version

We were considering The Ghan as a trip well worth doing.
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Old Jul 15th 2020, 8:07 am
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Default Re: Long Distance Train Travel -the Aussie version

We did them back in the days when, if you held a foreign passport, you could get a 1-year Red Kangaroo pass allowing unlimited travel on all the Great Southern trains for $600 each and we got our money's worth. The downside was that the Red Kangaroo sleeping arrangements were in airline-type seats but enough Shiraz before bedtime helped.

I think when we got around to doing the Ghan trip we were short of time due to work scheduling, so we ended up taking the Overlander Melbourne to Adelaide, the Ghan to Darwin, one night in Darwin, then back to Adelaide on the Ghan the following day. That was a full-on week!

The only trip we didn't do (because it didn't exist at that time) was the Great Southern train from Adelaide to Brisbane.

It's a great relaxing way to see the country.
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Old Jul 15th 2020, 9:59 am
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Default Re: Long Distance Train Travel -the Aussie version

I did the Ghan Alice to Adelaide years ago, can't remember a thing about it as got blind drunk on sparkling shiraz. Need to do it again to see what I missed!
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Old Jul 15th 2020, 11:11 am
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Default Re: Long Distance Train Travel -the Aussie version

The Ghan and the Indian Pacific look very appealing, and I think are good bets - but I think you have to be careful about other train services.

I rode the train Canberra-Sydney a few years ago and it was a poor experience with rough clientele - I kept my bag in my lap at all times - and it did surprise me, I thought there would be a lot of professional people using that service to shuttle and commute between the two cities, but I guess not. The Prospector in WA (Kalgoorlie-Perth) also has a bad reputation but I've never ridden it, just heard about it.

Obviously, you are paying for a particular experience on The Ghan so it's different.

Have you considered flying to Darwin, hiring a car and driving down? If you hire the car through the NT Tourist Office in Darwin, you get unlimited kms. There is a certain romance to being on The Ghan but you will miss a lot. We did Darwin-Kakadu-Katherine-Mataranka-Tennant Creek (Devil's Marbles) in the hire car which was a great experience. With an extra week we would have added Uluru, Alice Springs and Coober Pedy.

Kakadu was a bit of a disappointment - Litchfield and Karijini are much, much better - but Kakadu is one of those things that are on anyone's bucket list here.

We also drove from Darwin to Kununurra, that was a very scenic drive and Kununurra is an interesting place to spend a few days.

Last edited by carcajou; Jul 15th 2020 at 11:16 am.
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Old Jul 22nd 2020, 2:57 am
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Default Re: Long Distance Train Travel -the Aussie version

I haven't done the Ghan, but I did go on the Tramcar Restaurant in Melbourne one time a few years ago if that counts
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Old Jul 22nd 2020, 3:19 am
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Default Re: Long Distance Train Travel -the Aussie version

We did the Indian Pacific from Perth to Adelaide, and then The Ghan from Adelaide to Darwin a week later ......... a side trip to Bendigo to visit relations took up the intervening week.

We love trains, and have ridden them in several countries around the world, and they are now the only way we travel in Canada.

We enjoyed both The Indian Pacific and The Ghan, sleeper class. Great food, comfortable beds, a very intriguing combo toilet/vanity/shower annex to each cabin. Don't look down if you take a shower or you'll see ground slipping by through the holes in the black rubber covering the drain hole

We enjoyed the scenery, ever-changing desert but always something to see ............. expect The Ghan to be held up by at least one herd of camels.

We took the Katherine Gorge boat trip, and it is still the perfect memory.

I found the other passengers to be an interesting mix of locals and foreign visitors ........... cars were loaded onto the Indian Pacific in Perth to be taken to Sydney for some big antique car show, while a local politician took his son to Darwin on The Ghan so he could see something of the country.

Not to be missed!!!
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Old Jul 22nd 2020, 10:32 am
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Default Re: Long Distance Train Travel -the Aussie version

Originally Posted by Tom Sawyer View Post
I did the Ghan Alice to Adelaide years ago, can't remember a thing about it as got blind drunk on sparkling shiraz. Need to do it again to see what I missed!
Note to self not to follow your example - which woud be very easy to do!!

Originally Posted by carcajou View Post
The Ghan and the Indian Pacific look very appealing, and I think are good bets - but I think you have to be careful about other train services.
..........
Have you considered flying to Darwin, hiring a car and driving down?
No interest really in other train services here, just the really long distance ones like the Ghan & Indian Pacific

I don't drive, for various reasons, and as I am stuck in this godforsaken country for the foreseeable future I'm just looking for something that kills time and gives me a few experiences on the way from place to place!

Originally Posted by NJJ View Post
I haven't done the Ghan, but I did go on the Tramcar Restaurant in Melbourne one time a few years ago if that counts


Originally Posted by scilly View Post
We did the Indian Pacific from Perth to Adelaide, and then The Ghan from Adelaide to Darwin a week later ......... a side trip to Bendigo to visit relations took up the intervening week.

We love trains, and have ridden them in several countries around the world, and they are now the only way we travel in Canada.

We enjoyed both The Indian Pacific and The Ghan, sleeper class. Great food, comfortable beds, a very intriguing combo toilet/vanity/shower annex to each cabin. Don't look down if you take a shower or you'll see ground slipping by through the holes in the black rubber covering the drain hole

We enjoyed the scenery, ever-changing desert but always something to see ............. expect The Ghan to be held up by at least one herd of camels.

We took the Katherine Gorge boat trip, and it is still the perfect memory.

I found the other passengers to be an interesting mix of locals and foreign visitors ........... cars were loaded onto the Indian Pacific in Perth to be taken to Sydney for some big antique car show, while a local politician took his son to Darwin on The Ghan so he could see something of the country.

Not to be missed!!!
That really does sound like I would enjoy it, you and the others who have done the trip are quickly talking me into it. Maybe next year Her Majesty Annastacia will allow us enough freedom for me to try it!
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