Much of Australia’s vast continent is uninhabited due to the harsh climate of the outback.
Driving across the desert can be a hazardous and demanding task.
It is for this reason that luxury rail tours provide the perfect alternative to driving.
Travellers can visit the heart of the outback in perfect air-conditioned luxury.
The Indian Pacific
The transcontinental Indian Pacific is one of Australia’s unrivalled luxury train journeys and a relaxing way to enjoy the finest of the Australian outback, from Sydney to Perth, in a journey lasting 65 hours.
The journey covers 4,352 kilometres, and includes stops at three great Australian cities – Sydney, the nation’s Pacific Ocean City; Adelaide, South Australia’s charming capital and Perth, the most dynamic city of the west.
The Indian Pacific also passes through rustic country towns that speak of a bygone Australian era. The coal mining town of Lithgow; Bathurst, site of Australia’s first gold rush; Broken Hill, the jewel of the outback and Kalgoorlie, the ‘Queen of the Golden Mile.’
However, most people travel the Indian Pacific to experience the mysterious Nullarbor Plain. The Nullarbor boasts the longest straight stretch of railway track in the world – 478 kilometres without a curve.
The Ghan was established 75 years ago when a railway line replaced camel trains that ferried supplies and people to sparsely-populated central Australia. The camels were controlled by immigrant teams, mostly from Afghanistan – hence the name.
The Ghan traces the explorers’ routes to the mysterious Red Centre, passing through harsh, forbidding country with all the comfort and style of a fine hotel.
Connecting Adelaide in the south and Alice Springs in the centre, the Ghan has recently been extended to serve Darwin. Travellers can now ride in comfort through the Outback to the Alice – the gateway to Uluru (Ayers Rock), Kata Tjuta (the Olgas) rock formations, and the Northern Territory.
The starkly beautiful landscape of the Outback is the prime attraction when taking this 20 hour, 1559 km trip. Heading out of Alice Springs, the train passes indigenous campgrounds and then confronts a vast silent emptiness.
The Overland commenced service in 1887, pioneering inter-capital rail travel between Melbourne and Adelaide. The name comes from the term ‘overlander,’ meaning an adventurer who traverses the country.
Today, this historic train continues to provide a convenient way to travel between these two great cities. The Overland offers a Daylight Service between Adelaide, gateway too many of Australia’s best wine producing regions and Melbourne, Australia’s cultural capital.
With Gold Kangaroo service travellers can choose between a Twin and Single Sleeper Cabin. Travellers can enjoy the stunning vistas of these lush regions from the comfort of daytime lounge seating that converts to a bedroom at night.
Train travel on The Sunlander enables passengers to discover a multitude of Australia’s best coastal destinations such as the Great Barrier Reef and Whitsunday Islands. The Sunlander features a range of accommodation options including the premium Queenslander Class.
In terms of national rail travel, the Sunlander is one of Australia’s longest running and most beautiful tours. For fifty years, The Sunlander has weaved its way along Australia’s incredible northeast coast. And with large panoramic windows on all sides guests can capture the true sense of life along the east coast as The Sunlander travels along the lush coastline.
With regards to accommodation options, the choices are sensational. Roomettes feature a single lounge chair that converts into a sleeping berth at night, as well as most of the features of the Twin Sleepers, including wash basin and toilet, full length mirror, power point and reading lights.
The Spirit of the Outback
Twice a week, the Spirit of the Outback offers a unique train travel experience between Brisbane and Longreach, via Rockhampton, giving travellers an insight into the history and culture of early Australia.
Analogous of the country through which it passes, the Spirit of the Outback reflects the history of Central Western Queensland, celebrating a vast tradition of passenger train travel.
The train enables travellers to marvel at some of the outback’s harshest landscapes from the comfort of an air-conditioned carriage.
The journey to Brisbane takes a little over 24 hours, hugging Queensland’s coastline past cattle stations and sugar cane plantations until the Spirit reaches Rockhampton.
From Rockhampton the train heads to Blackwater, where more than 5 million tonnes of coal is mined every year. Then onward to Emerald and the sapphire fields of Anakie, following the Tropic of Capricorn to Longreach – a region where history runs thick with Aboriginal cave paintings, stockmen and bushrangers.
Karen Cooke is a professional consultant with Travel Associates, an exclusive Australian travel agency catering to the premium travel market. More helpful travel tips and suggestions are available at http://www.travel-associates.com.au
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