Train travel, instead of flying, is the ideal way to see Australia without having to drive yourself. From historic train day trips to transcontinental crossings, railways provide an in-motion window into the country’s stunning, diverse landscapes. They let people travel between towns without missing out on the hundreds of miles of magnificent wilderness.
True enough, rail travels in Australia are as varied as the nation itself, ranging from reaching the heart of the country to clattering through some of the world’s most picturesque coasts. It’s about time you realize that this country is made for embracing the romance and wonder of train travel.
The Best Australian Train Journeys You Shouldn’t Miss
Passenger trains in Australia are a great and inexpensive way to travel and explore the landscape, while scenic services such as Aussie Trains provide a more terrific experience. Unlike passenger trains, which allow people to board at any point and disembark only at their destinations, luxury trains transport vacationers. These trains make longer stops at significant locations so passengers can get off and explore the region.
You’ll be rewarded with sights of the ever-changing Australian scenery whether you take a passenger or scenic train. You’ll see sections of this vast environment that most visitors miss, and you’ll have a newfound respect for this continent and its people.
To start you off, here are some of the best Australian train journeys you shouldn’t miss this year:
1. Spirit of Queensland
If you’re searching for a scenic train ride, consider the Spirit of Queensland, one of Australia’s most beautiful. Before arriving in Cairns, your entry to the Great Barrier Reef, this train crosses the state’s coastline, passing through the Sunshine Coast hinterland and the mountainous terrain of Central Queensland.
With reclining seats, in-seat entertainment, and overhead storage, the Spirit of Queensland is as sleek as any aircraft. The travel from Brisbane to Cairns takes 24 hours, but you may stop in Noosa on the Sunshine Coast, Townsville to break up the journey, or Hervey Bay (with access to Fraser Island). Its last destination, Cairns, is the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest.
The Spirit of Queensland runs five times a week between Brisbane and Cairns, with the option of adding their RailBed service. The RailBed is a daytime seat that transforms into a nighttime lie-flat bed. A Galley Car with snacks and a sitting area is also available on this train.
2. The Great Southern
The Great Southern passes through one of Australia’s different regions in three to four days, passing through the following areas, and then onto Brisbane:
- The rich slopes of Adelaide Hills in South Australia
- Victoria’s rocky Grampians Mountain range
- The lazuline coastlines of New South Wales’ north coast
The maiden journey of the Great Southern left in late 2019, with just a few trips running between Adelaide and Brisbane each summer. What’s more is that the itinerary shifts with the direction, providing you the perfect excuse to board again and start over.
On your journey, you’ll most likely experience a variety of climates, so pack wisely. It’s the ultimate opportunity to see the region’s big and little towns while enjoying the fantastic world-class luxury experience the newly fashioned Great Southern offers. This journey is ideal for groups or individuals traveling.
3. Spirit Of The Outback
The Spirit of the Outback embarks from the glitzy metropolis of Brisbane and travels across the harsh Queensland Outback for over 820 kilometers to the distant village of Longreach.
Onboard accommodations range from standard economy prices with reclining chairs and footrests (but no bedding) to first-class carriage private cabins with shower facilities, hand basins, power outlets, wardrobes, bedding, and bunk beds at each carriage’s end. All aboard meals, from fine Australian dining in The Tuckerbox Restaurant to snacks and drinks in the Captain Starlight Lounge and the Stockman’s Bar, are included in first-class rates.
Before arriving in Longreach, the train goes via the eccentric heritage mining villages of Barcaldine, Emerald, and Blackwater, where you can take tours of the town, visit the Qantas Founders Museum, and enjoy a sunset cruise on the Thomson River.
4. The Gulflander
The Gulflander is the beautiful Gulf country’s train journey. It is a one-of-a-kind Australian train journey, which runs from Normanton to Croydon in Australia’s secluded Gulf of Carpentaria, following the original track completed in 1888. The trip takes place on a vintage 1950 railmotor and comprises morning tea while being hosted by qualified Savannah guides.
This iconic rail engine, often known as the ‘Tin Hare,’ is one of the rail world’s remaining great characters.
This separate and Heritage-Listed rail line is lovingly known as the ‘nowhere to nowhere’ train ride. The tours highlight the beautiful marshes, grasslands, and Savannah region. The journey takes five hours, and the guides will engage you along the way with facts and information about the area, which you’ll surely enjoy if you’re a train buff.
5. The Overland
The Overland train was the first train in Australia to run between two state capitals. If you have the time, the ten-hour ride between Adelaide and Melbourne is a terrific way to travel between the two cities.
The daytime-only ride, which covers 515 miles and takes roughly 10-11 hours each way, passes through beautiful Victorian villages, spans Australia’s largest river, the Murray River, and meanders past the picturesque Adelaide Hills.
You can choose the Red Premium service, which provides a fantastic experience. Red Premium is similar to business class on a plane; it includes all-inclusive in-seat cuisine with breakfast, lunch, and afternoon tea, as well as more spacious seating. The train runs three times a week in each direction, so if you’re planning to visit cities before or after, check the timetables in advance to ensure your itinerary coincides with the departure dates.
Train travel feels like an experience from another period, with just the passing of the world beyond your window marking the passage of time. Such travel embodies slow travel, a great reminder that the trip is just as significant as the destination. If you’re planning to explore Australia this year, be sure not to miss these train journeys that’ll make you enjoy the best of both worlds.