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Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Indian Pacific: from ocean to ocean across Australia by train

Don't you love the notion of travelling from one ocean to another on a train? That's one of the things that has always made the idea of a journey on the Indian Pacific so alluring for me. And after years of dreaming about it, I'm pleased we did it... well, part of it... the Perth to Adelaide sector. Australia's only transcontinental route, the Indian Pacific transports travellers some 4,352 kilometres from the country's most remote capital city, Perth, and the Indian Ocean, across this colossal land to Sydney, Australia's largest city, and the Pacific Ocean. Hence the name, the Indian Pacific. For Australians, it's one of those classic trips - like driving the Great Ocean Road or doing the Red Centre - one of our great journeys that every Aussie tries to do at least once in their life. Most save the trip for their retirement, so they can afford to do in style in Gold class. Others brave the Red service, where they can opt for snug sleepers or sit up for the entire three-day journey - yep, that's right three whole days. We were booked into Gold, but were upgraded to the new Platinum service, just recently introduced on the Indian Pacific. We were a tad disappointed (well, for a minute or two!) as we had wanted to compare the Gold experience with our previous trip in Platinum from Alice Springs to Darwin on The Ghan (read about that trip here) - all in the name of research for the guidebooks we're writing, of course. But it's hard to knock back the Platinum cabin's comfort and space - a whopping 3.65 x 2.1metres! - which makes the cabins feel like tiny hotel rooms. We did get to do a tour of the Gold sleepers and as comfortable enough as they look, the Platinum cabins can't be beaten. The space allowed us to sprawl out in the room, spread out our things, work at the table, and - once the beds are made in the evening (ever so discretely while we were at dinner), spread out on the bed and watch a DVD on the laptop. And the private bathroom with toilet, shower and sink is also hard to beat. Platinum is expensive though, around Aus $3,300 on the Indian Pacific (see all fares here), which is why many Australian travellers consider it a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I try not to think of travel in that way; I like to always think we can return to certain places one day. But I'm not sure how many times you'd want to spend three days on a train - as much as I like being able to say I've travelled from ocean to ocean across Australia on the Indian Pacific.


Anonymous said...

that sounds epic! love train travel, will have to add this to my lifetime to-do list. i dont think i'd find the platinum class too disappointing hehe. thanks for planting the seed!


Lara Dunston said...

Hi jeelago

It is pretty epic - add away!

Thanks for dropping by!


Kataroma said...

Saw your comment on Cherrye in Calabria's blog.

If I ever move back to Australia I'd love to do this train journey. Sad to say I've travelled more in Europe and the US than in my home country, Australia. Ahhh those wide open spaces!

Lara Dunston said...

Hi Kataroma

Those wide open spaces are wonderful! I think that's the case for most Australians - they'd rather get on a plane and go to Indonesia or Thailand than jump in the car and explore their own country. That's why we tend to see more Grey Nomads on the road than young people, although there's definitely an increase in younger Australians hitting the road to see their country.

Thanks for dropping by!

Anonymous said...

Yes that goods idea and look interisting.

Jessie V said...

what a fun trip! how was the food?

Lara Dunston said...

Hi Widi - thanks! It was very interesting, indeed. I'll check out your site too.

Hi Jessie - and, ditto, lots of fun too! The food was good. It played it safe in terms of choices. I would have liked to have seem more interesting offerings - we were comparing Platinum to First Class on a plane or a luxury hotel, so we expected a similar wow factor. But the meals were very enjoyable all the same - got a chance to meet some fascinating people and look out at those ever-changing vistas.

Prêt à Voyager said...

i definitely think of taking the train across the US, but never had considered it as an experience in another country. tempting.


Lara Dunston said...

Hi Anne

But surely you've taken the train in France? Or haven't you been able to drag yourself away from Paris? :) You must take the trains in Switzerland - from Zurich up to St Moritz - it's just gorgeous. Italy is fab too of course, and Spain... aahhhh...

Anonymous said...

"from ocean to ocean by train", that's a cool concept, as cool as the price. The experience on the Indian Pacific reads to me like cruise. Only it's on the land with more sceneries. I love train travel when time and money permitting. :)

By the way, have you heard of the site It's cool with the idea of booking private tour guides globally before departure. Would be great to hear your comments.

Happy 2009!

OurExplorer - Tour Guide & Tourist Guide
local guides, local wisdom