Choosing train travel over flying provides the ultimate way to explore Australia without the hassle of driving. A train journey offers a moving window that unveils the diverse and breathtaking landscapes across the country, from historic day trips to transcontinental voyages. Whether you’re a history buff, nature enthusiast, or seeking luxury travel, Australia’s railway adventures cater to various tastes.
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- Indian Pacific, Sydney to Perth Embark on Australia’s longest train journey, the Indian Pacific, spanning from Sydney on the east coast to Perth in Western Australia. Over 70 hours, traverse 2,704 miles, including the world’s longest unswerving stretch of track, spanning 297 miles. Dating back to 1917, this luxurious journey offers gold and platinum service quarters, complete with en suite shower rooms, comfortable beds, and fine dining in the scenic dining car. Witness the UNESCO-listed Blue Mountains, explore Adelaide’s food and wine, and journey through the iconic Nullarbor Plain before reaching Perth.
- Kuranda Scenic Railway, Cairns to Kuranda Wind through the UNESCO-listed Wet Tropics of Queensland on the Cairns to Kuranda line. Covering 23 miles in under two hours, this serpentine route passes gorges, mountains, waterfalls, and 15 tunnels. Pause at Barron Falls Station for a spectacular view of Barron Falls. Departing from Cairns, gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, this journey immerses travelers in the wild beauty of far north Queensland.
- Puffing Billy, Belgrave to Gembrook Experience the golden age of rail travel on Puffing Billy Railway, a narrow-gauge steam locomotive route in Victoria’s Dandenong Ranges. Operating since 1899, this heritage railway offers scenic day trips ranging from 30 minutes to two hours. Cross the historic Monbulk Creek trestle bridge and enjoy verdant views of Sherbrooke Forest. Opt for a first-class carriage to savor a gourmet lunch on this iconic journey.
- The Great Southern, Adelaide to Brisbane Launched in December 2019, The Great Southern offers a luxury train experience linking Adelaide to Brisbane. Choose between a three-day northbound or a four-day southbound itinerary. Enjoy sleeping quarters, dining, drinks, and off-train excursions, exploring Victoria’s Grampians Ranges, Canberra’s modern cityscape, and the beach town of Coffs Harbour before arriving in Brisbane.
- Spirit of the Outback, Brisbane to Longreach Traverse over 820 miles on the Spirit of the Outback, a government-run sleeper train from Brisbane to Longreach. Accommodation ranges from standard economy to first-class cabins with bunk beds, bedding, and shower facilities. The journey unfolds through heritage mining towns, including Blackwater, Emerald, and Barcaldine, concluding with tours of Longreach, highlighted by the Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame.
- The Overland, Melbourne to Adelaide Dating back to 1887, The Overland connects Melbourne and Adelaide, covering 515 miles in a daytime journey of 10-11 hours. Passing through quaint Victorian towns, crossing the Murray River, and traversing the Adelaide Hills, this historic route offers a glimpse into Australia’s past. Despite its long history, The Overland remains operational, providing a unique travel experience.
- The Ghan, Adelaide to Darwin Pronounced to rhyme with “can,” The Ghan travels from Adelaide to Darwin, cutting through the Red Centre and showcasing Australia’s famous outback. The journey includes stops in Alice Springs, where you can explore Kings Canyon, Kata Tjuta, and the sacred Uluru. Marvel at Nitmiluk Gorge and conclude your adventure in tropical Darwin, a gateway to further outback explorations.
- Victorian Goldfields Railway For a historic experience, ride the Victorian Goldfields Railway between Castlemaine and Maldon in Victoria. Originally opened in 1884, this tourist attraction features steam engines from the early to mid-20th century. Enjoy return trips on Wednesdays, Sundays, and public holidays, or take control of a steam locomotive during a full-day train driving experience. The railway offers a nostalgic journey through the 19th-century gold rush boomtowns.
Whether you’re drawn to the luxury of transcontinental voyages or the charm of historic railways, Australia’s diverse train journeys cater to a range of interests, promising unforgettable experiences across the continent.