From watching the scenery roll by to dozing off to the rhythm of the rails, there’s something incomparably romantic about train travel. It goes hand in hand with a dash of nostalgia, with iconic trains like the Great Southern Indian Pacific shining the spotlight on spectacular views, luxury carriages and gourmet food. Not to mention five-star service.
Traversing Australia for over 100 years, Great Southern Rail’s Indian Pacific is as much about the journey as it is the destination. If you’ve been day dreaming about jumping aboard we’ve got the scoop on everything you need to know about planning a journey for the ages.
12 things you need to know before you go
1. What’s the Indian Pacific route?
Wayfaring between Sydney and Perth, the Indian Pacific covers a huge 4,352km. This makes it Australia’s longest rail journey, weaving through gum tree groves, goldmines, ghost towns and grape vines. The entire journey includes four days and three nights, whisking passengers from coast to coast. Along the way you’ll gaze up at the Blue Mountains, explore Adelaide and traverse the barren expanse of the Nullarbor.
2. What will I see?
I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and flooding rains.
I love her far horizons,
I love her jewel-sea,
Her beauty and her terror
The wide brown land for me!
This iconic poem from Dorothea Mackeller sums up the Indian Pacific voyage perfectly. As you make your way across the longest stretch of straight railway track in the world, the terrain will change from lush rainforests and soaring mountains to fiery red desert and golden coastlines. The experience is truly diverse, where no two days offer the same views.
3. How fast does the train travel?
The Indian Pacific averages 85km/hour, which means you’ll have plenty of time to soak up the scenery and absorb every view. After all, the journey is just as important as the destination.
4. Do I sleep on-board the train?
You’ll rest your head on-board the train, with a variety of compact yet luxurious cabins to choose from. Expect five-star, hotel quality linens, plus a host of perks. Gold Service Twin Cabins feature bunk-style beds which convert into a three-seater lounge area by day. You’ll enjoy an ensuite bathroom and a large window. If you’re travelling solo Gold Service Single Cabins are a fantastic option. For special occasions it’s worth upgrading to Gold Service Superior Cabins. They’re spacious, boast a three-quarter double bed and a plush private lounge area. Elevate your experience to the next level with Platinum Cabins, which treat guests to a sweeping 1.5-metre wide window. Hello views.
5. What are the on-board facilities?
As well as your cabin you’ll enjoy access to several elegant lounges dotted across the train’s 30 carriages. Expect decadent décor, vintage sofas and handcrafted cocktails. There’s also plenty to enrich your journey, with the option of participating in anything from wine masterclasses delivered by revered critics to culinary lessons led by Aboriginal chef, Mark Olive.
6. Where will I be dining?
There’s no denying that wining and dining both play a key role in high-end travel. The Indian Pacific delivers with hot cooked breakfasts served in the Queen Adelaide restaurant for Gold Service guests, and Platinum Club access for higher tiers. Both feature luxe leather booths, cut-glass partitions and crisp white linen. Food and drink is all-inclusive for both Gold and Platinum classes, with bottomless wine, bubbly, beer and spirits served all day long. Depending on the itinerary you’ll also enjoy a host of off-train experiences, including hand-picked restaurants, boutique vineyards and rural farms.
7. What will I be eating?
You won’t go hungry aboard the Indian Pacific, with chefs whipping up a smorgasbord of Australian inspired delicacies. Wet your palate for succulent jewfish, Western Australian crayfish, truffle-infused starters, blue swimmer crab and sumptuous seven course “showcase dinners”.
8. Will the cuisine be stand-out?
Absolutely. The Indian Pacific is constantly hailed for its culinary wow-factor, with publications like Gourmet Traveller recently adding the train to its “Top 100 Australian Culinary Experiences” and Condé Nast Traveller describing its cuisine as some of the best on the planet. Ingredients are unique and inspired, with native Australian fare such as kangaroo, saltbush and wild rosella flower. Wash it all down with vino hand-picked from some of Australia’s top winemaking regions. You’ll sip on Shiraz from Margaret River, Semillon from the Hunter Valley, Eden Valley Riesling from Barossa, Chardonnay from the Adelaide Hills and more. Better yet, it’s all inclusive.
9 What tours are available?
Beyond the on-board experience you’ll also be immersed in the rugged beauty of the Australian landscape. Excursions include wine tasting in the Hunter Valley, beach hopping in Byron Bay, strawberry picking in Port Macquarie, walking tours of Maggie Beer’s Pheasant Farm and more.
10. What should I pack?
In line with its elegant roots, smart casual attire is required for guests travelling in Platinum Service and Gold Service. It can get chilly in the evenings so don’t forget to pack warmer layers, plus a comfortable pair of walking shoes for day trips. It’s also a good idea to travel with cash in case you want to splurge on souvenirs or upgrade your tour options. Visa, MasterCard, American Express Card and Diners Card are accepted on-board.
11. What’s the luggage limit?
It’s best to travel as light as possible to maximise your cabin space. Hand luggage and a garment bag or two are ideal for on-board, with the option of checking your main luggage.