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How to Get Around Australia By Train

Travelling by train is probably the easiest way to get around Australia. The country is quite huge, and there is so much you can see within a short visit, but you need a reliable and convenient way to go from point A to point B. To appreciate the vastness of Australia, you need a means of transportation that is affordable and offers the most comfort, considering you are going to be travelling long distances within the country.

The best part is that several train routes are linking Australia. Australia's train service is broken down into two main categories – the interstate service and the intrastate service. One of the most famous train services, the India Pacific, connects Sydney – Adelaide – Perth on a 3-day journey. The train will pass several tourists attractions including the Nullabor Plain. If you are looking to see places like the red centre located around Alice Springs, your best option is to board the Ghan from Adelaide. If you are travelling around the East, XPT trains (very comfortable and affordable) link, Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane, while Queensland Railways links Brisbane with Townsville and Cairns.

Travel around Australia by Train

  • The Indian Pacific: Sydney - Adelaide - Perth
  • The Ghan: Adelaide - Alice Springs - Darwin
  • The Overland: Melbourne - Adelaide
  • XPT: Sydney - Melbourne
  • XPT: Sydney - Brisbane
  • Xplorer: Sydney - Canberra
  • Queensland: Brisbane - Townsville - Cairns
  • Rockhampton-Longreach
  • Cairns-Forsayth
  • Kalgoorlie – Perth

Indian Pacific

The Indian Pacific offers the biggest train journey in Australia. This is an amazing train ride that cuts through Australia from Sydney or Adelaide to Perth and vice versa, giving you a firsthand experience of Australia's vast lands and beautiful landscape that you cannot possibly get through flying. The Indian Pacific trains are comfortable with cosy beds in the privacy of your room, restaurants where you can have meals and a lounge where you can relax as the train pierces through the country.

The Indian Pacific is now run by a private company, Journeys Beyond Rail, with journeys linking Sydney, Adelaide, and Perth once a week on off-peak periods throughout the year, and twice a week in peak periods. The train company has been around since the 1970s when the standard gauge rail line from Sydney to Perth (over 4,343 km or 2,698 miles) was completed. As of today, both the Indian Pacific and its sister train the Ghan still use the stainless steel coaches built by the American Budd company for the first Indian Pacific trains when they began operation in 1973. The train has since been upgraded to fit the modern standard of trains and is included in your tour.

Facilities onboard the Indian Pacific Train

Like most train services, facilities onboard the Indian Pacific are included for comfort while travelling through the vast Australian lands. There are two main classes on the Indian Pacific – Gold service sleepers and Red Service reclining seats. On a few occasions, some departures feature a fourth class, the Premium Service Sleepers. Gold sleepers have access to the best facilities on the Indian Pacific, Gold sleepers are your best option. You will have access to better comfort including restaurant car meals. Platinum service comes with bigger sleepers and access to the same lounge and restaurant like Gold Service. The Single berth 'roomettes' and 2-berth 'twinettes' on the Gold Service cars come with freshly made beds, complimentary toiletries pack including shampoo, toothbrush, shampoo, toothpaste, towels, etc.

Dinning onboard the Indian Pacific Train

Passengers will be served excellent 3-course meals in the Queen Adelaide restaurant, and they also have access to the Outback Explorer lounge car with a bar and armchairs. Passengers are served complimentary coffee and tee while relaxing in the lounge. The Outback Explorer lounge serves beer, wines and cocktails, while standard wines and beer are complimentary in Gold service.

Fares of Indian Pacific Train

Sydney – Perth

One-way fares in AUD, Per Person Gold Service Single Berth Gold Service 2 Berth Platinum Sleeper
Adult Fares $2419 $2689 $4199
Child Fares under 16 $1527 $1694 -

Sydney - Adelaide

One-way fares in AUD, Per Person Gold Service Single Berth Gold Service 2 Berth Platinum Sleeper
Adult Fares $2419 $2689 $4199
Child Fares under 16 $1527 $1694 -

Adelaide - Perth

One-way fares in AUD, Per Person Gold Service Single Berth Gold Service 2 Berth Platinum Sleeper
Adult Fares $1689 $1879 $3069
Child Fares under 16 $1083 $1202 -

If you purchase your tickets 6 months in advance, you will get a 10% discount on Platinum and 25% on Gold tickets. Children under the age of 4 get free seats.

How to Book Tickets on Indian Pacific

Indian Pacific tickets can be booked online. Also, you can use the contact and booking form of Australian-based ticketing specialist, who can help you with booking an Indian Pacific tickets from your location anywhere in the world.

Ghan

If you plan on going to Australia's iconic Uluru (Ayer's Rock) Red centre, the Ghan is the best way to make this journey.The second most famous train in Australia, the Ghan connects Adelaide, Alice Springs, and Darwin, once a week year-round, and once a week in peak periods from April to October. The Ghan lets you experience the full scale of the magnificence of the Australian outback, which you just can get from a plane. The Ghan is run by Journeys Beyond Rail and offers the same accommodation classes and facilities like the Indian Pacific including Gold class sleepers, restaurant and lounge. Most Ghan trips now include an additional class, the super-deluxe Platinum Class with double beds.

The Ghan train is named after the Afghan camel drivers and camels who were involved in transporting supplies to Alice Springs before the rail lines were built. The old Ghan was extremely slow and travelled for 48 hours from Adelaide to Alice on the first railway which was quite narrow. This new standard gauge was opened in the 1980s to accommodate a direct route. The journey is cut to an afternoon and night time journey, with services doubled to twice a week for most of the year. The railway linking Darwin was completed in January 2004, and the Ghan was extended to Darwin in February the same year, operating once a week, then doubled to twice a week in 2006.

Facilities onboard the Ghan Train

The Ghan has similar facilities like the Indian Pacific. The Ghan and Indian Pacific offer the same accommodation classes and services including restaurants and bars, and other facilities. See Indian Pacific onboard facilities.

Dinning onboard the Ghan

The Ghan train offers the same dining experience including meals and drinks like the Indian Pacific. Gold passengers are served complimentary meals, wines and beer. Other arrangements including lounge and restaurant experience are the same as Indian Pacific.

Fares of Ghan Train

Adelaide to Alice Springs

One-way fares in AUD, Per Person Gold Service Single Sleeper Gold Service Twin Sleeper Platinum Sleeper
Adult Fares $1159 $1299 $2459*
Child Fares under 16 $758 $758 N/A

Adelaide to Darwin

One-way fares in AUD, Per Person Gold Service Single Berth Gold Service 2 Berth Platinum Sleeper
Adult Fares $2149 $2399 $3599*
Child Fares under 16 $1426 $1582 N/A

If you purchase your tickets 6 months in advance, you will get a 10% discount on Platinum and 25% on Gold tickets. Children under the age of 4 get free seats.

How to Book Tickets on Ghan Train

Like Indian Pacific tickets, Ghan tickets can be booked online. Also, you can use the contact of an Australian-based ticketing specialist, who can help you with booking Ghan tickets from your location anywhere in the world.

The Overland

The Overland offers a relaxing and comfortable way to move between cities with ease or to enjoy a great holiday hopping from Melbourne to Adelaide and their surrounding regions.

The Overland makes stops at Adelaide, allowing you to connect with the Indian Pacific train to Perth/Sydney, or the Ghan to Alice Springs or Darwin, or Brisbane with the Great Southern. The Overland operates in each direction twice a week. The Overland is the third of the trains operated by Journey Beyond Rail.

Facilities onboard the Overland Train

Red Premium seats come with reclining seats, generous legroom, up to 60kg luggage storage, dining options, dedicated attendants, an individual reading light, and many more.

Dinning onboard the Overland Train

The Overland train includes a lounge car where you can purchase meals, snacks, and drinks. A first-class/Red Premium seat comes with a complimentary launch, morning and afternoon tea.

Fares of Overland Train

Melbourne - Adelaide

One-way Fare Red seat: (standard class) Red Premium seat: (first class)
Adult Fares AUS$139 (Railsaver $119, Ready Rail $79) AUS$189
Child Fares under 16 AUS$71 (Ready Rail $63) AUS$121

How to Book Tickets on Overland Train

You can purchase tickets online from Melbourne-based booking agency, they can help you in arrange your Overland tickets, regardless of where you are in the world. You will get a quote within 24 hours if you use their booking form.

NSW TrainLink XPT & XPLORER

The XPT and Explorer trains link Sydney with Melbourne in the most comfortable manner with air-conditioned cars, linking one city centre to the other and eliminating the need to fly. The trains are operated by NSW TrainLink, which was formerly CountryLink, and formerly the State Rail Authority of New South Wales. The NSW TrainLink operates two XPT trains daily from Sydney to Melbourne, with one train operating a daytime journey, and the other an overnight train with a sleeping-car. There is a similar daytime and overnight service that links Sydney to Brisbane. In the same fashion, comfortable XPLORER trains link Sydney with Canberra several times daily.

On-Board Facilities of NSW TrainLink's XPT & XPLORER

A comfortable trip is ensured whether you are seating in economy class or first class, thanks to the reclining seats with foldaway arms, drop-down tables, and footrests. Most of the seats can be rotated to enable a group of four people seated facing each other. The overnight Sydney-Melbourne XPT trains come with a sleeping-car with 2-berth rooms. A sofa can be converted to a lower berth, while an upper berth folds out of the cabin wall, complete with bedding essentials and mattress. Passengers have access to a hot shower and a toilet which is shared between pairs of adjacent compartments. There is free WiFi for all passengers on the trains.

Dining onboard the NSW TrainLink's XPT & XPLORER

Most NSW TrainLink trains services come with a buffet car where passengers are served meals, snacks, and drinks. Refreshment stops are included on trips that last more than 4 hours. Food and drinks are not allowed on the trains. The buffet bar offers a range of meals and drinks which are paid for. Alcohol is not allowed on NSW TrainLink trains.

Fares of NSW TrainLink's XPT & XPLORER

Sydney - Melbourne

One-way Fares Per Person 1st Class Sleeper 1st Class Seat Economy Seat
Low Season Fare A$243 A$155 A$110
High Season Fare A$271 A$183 A$130

Sydney - Brisbane

One-way Fares Per Person 1st Class Sleeper 1st Class Seat Economy Seat
Low Season Fare A$243 A$155 A$110
High Season Fare A$271 A$183 A$130

Sydney - Canberra

One-way Fares Per Person 1st Class Sleeper 1st Class Seat Economy Seat
Low Season Fare N/A A$67 A$48
High Season Fare N/A A$79 A$56

How to Buy Tickets of NSW TrainLink's XPT & XPLORER

Tickets can be purchased online. Tickets bought online will be sent to you via email. However, if you are planning on using the sleepers, tickets cannot be booked online.

Queensland

Queensland Railways (QR) runs a fantastic train service that links Brisbane, Townsville, and Cairns called Traveltrain. The trains are operated on a narrow gauge, which is the main reason why you need to make a switch at Brisbane to the NSW TrainLink's standard gauge trains to Sydney and back.

The Spirit of Queensland the newest addition to the train service. A 100mph tilt train that comes with a Railbed Class seats, a Premium Economy Class seats, and a Lounge car. The train was launched in 2013 as a replacement for the old Sunlander which was discontinued in 2014.

There are additional trains including a 100mph tilting daytime train operating between Brisbane and Rockhampton, There is another rain called the Spirit of The Outback which runs twice weekly between Brisbane, Rockhampton, and Longreach. This train has 1st and Economy sleepers, Economy seats, and a restaurant car. 1st class fares now come with meals.

Facilities Onboard the Queensland Train

There are two classes on this train – Railbed class and Premium economy. All the seats are fitted with airline-style seats, power sockets, and entertainment systems.

Dinning onboard the Queensland

All passengers have access to the cafe car. If you book a Railbed class seat, your meals will be served at your seat.

Fares of Queensland

Brisbane - Townsville

One-way Fares Per Person Premium Economy Railbed
U-Save or B-Quick Fare AUS$236 AUS$332
A-Choice Fare AUS$315 AUS$442

Brisbane - Cairns

One-way Fares Per Person Premium Economy Railbed
U-Save or B-Quick Fare AUS$276 AUS$390
A-Choice Fare AUS$369 AUS$519

How to Buy Tickets of Queensland

Like most train services, tickets have discounts if booked in advance. To book Queensland tickets, visit their website. You can purchase tickets wherever you are located on the globe. Alternatively, you can use the contact and booking form. A booking agency based in Melbourne, and they can arrange your Queensland tickets for you.

Cairns To Forsayth

On the Cairns to Forsayth route, a small-sized 1963 vintage stainless steel railcar tows the Savannahlander, departing at 06:30 every Wednesday making an overnight hotel stop at Almaden, and arriving in Forsayth on Thursday evening. The train makes a return trip to Cairns on Friday, making an overnight hotel stop at Almaden, and arriving Cairns 18:40 on Saturdays. This 4 day outback experience runs from March till December. www.savannahlander.com.au for timetable, fares & booking.

Kalgoorlie – Perth

If you are looking to link Perth through Kalgoorlie, then you best option is to travel by train using the Transwa Prospector. Transwa (formerly Westrail) introduced a new diesel train on the Perth to Kalgoorlie route in 2003, running at up to 100mph. The train departs either Perth or Kalgoorlie at least once a day, and the journey to and from each destination lasts for up to 7 hours covering a distance of 653 km.

Facilities onboard the Train

Each car comes fitted with air-conditioning, power sockets, and toilet facilities, entertainment systems with music and movies, and facilities for passengers with mobility difficulties.

Dinning onboard the Train

There is a full buffet service for all passengers on the Prospector.

Fares

Return tickets start from $90.45.

How to Buy Tickets

Tickets can be purchased online or via the phone at either Transwa Booking Centre or through an accredited ticketing agent.