australia indian pacific train journey flora
Indian Pacific train journey

Australia Rail Holidays

Travel writer Paul Theroux once said, “I have seldom heard a train go by and not wished I was on it.” When it comes to long-distance travel, there are few things more comfortable, relaxing or rewarding than spending a few days on a slow train winding across a country. Australia has some of the longest, most legendary rail journeys of them all. A trip aboard the Ghan or Indian Pacific might well be the highlight of your holiday Down Under.

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Tracing an old pioneer route, the Ghan trundles 2,979km between Darwin and Adelaide, pulling up to 26 coaches across the rust-red deserts of the Australian Outback. Mesmerised by the view through your window, you’ll likely spot kangaroos and camels – descendants of the animals used by Afghan drovers who built the railway line in 1929. The Ghan stops along the way to allow you to explore Katherine Gorge, Alice Springs and Coober Pedy.

The Indian Pacific is longer still: an epic 4,352km line between Perth and Sydney, via Adelaide. Like the Ghan, it weaves through beautiful scenery, ranging from deserts to farmland and mountains. Both trains offer a choice of carriages with comfortable en suite cabins and gourmet dining in the restaurant cars.

Our Travel Specialists can help you plan the best way to incorporate a long-distance train journey into your Australia holiday.

Popular Rail Journeys

The Ghan: Adelaide-Darwin

australia the ghan train

The Ghan, which turns 90 in 2019, travels 2,979 kilometres from Adelaide to Darwin (and vice versa) on a trans-continental journey through the Red Centre of Australia. Enjoy two nights aboard this legendary train, taking in spectacular scenery from the comfort of your cabin. Standard Gold Service offers single and twin cabins featuring upper and lower berths, while a deluxe Platinum Service featuring double beds, spacious ensuite and 24-hour room service. This trip is bookable as a complete journey or in shorter sectors between Adelaide-Alice Springs, and Alice Springs-Darwin.

Heading north, The Ghan departs Adelaide on Sundays and Alice Springs on Mondays from mid-January to mid-December. Southbound, the train departs Darwin on Wednesdays and Alice Springs on Thursdays, from November-April – excluding May-October when the service is replaced by the Ghan Expedition 4-day adventure.

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Indian Pacific: Sydney-Perth

australia train indian pacific crossing the nullabor

Crossing a continent from ocean to ocean, the Indian Pacific is one of the world’s longest and greatest train journeys. Travelling between Perth and Sydney twice weekly (year-round), the 3-night journey on the Indian Pacific crosses the treeless plains of The Nullarbor, following the world’s longest straight stretch of railway track. Enjoy unique landscapes and spot a fascinating array of wildlife from the lounge or your cabin. Gold Service and Platinum Service cabins are available.

Eastbound, the train departs Perth every Sunday, and departs westbound from Sydney every Wednesday. Shorter sectors are available between Perth-Adelaide and Adelaide-Sydney.

The Spirit of Queensland: Brisbane-Cairns

australia spirit of queensland rail journey qr

Travelling between Brisbane and Cairns five times a week, the Spirit of Queensland redefines the modern rail travel experience with a comfortable and convenient way to access spectacular holiday destinations such as the Great Barrier Reef, the Whitsundays, Townsville & Cairns and a multitude of other stops in between. Choose between Premium Economy seating: an economical option with 42 inch seat pitch and on-demand seat back entertainment, or the more luxurious RailBed. The RailBed is a spacious and comfortable seat by day that converts to a lie-flat bed with comfortable mattress topper and linen at night. Shower/toilet facilities are available at the end of each carriage.

This 24-hour journey departs Brisbane year-round on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. The southbound journey departs Cairns on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays. Short sector fares are available, please contact our Travel Specialists for details.

Great Southern

australia great southern rail train passing vineyards artist impression

Travel by train in 2019 on the new three-day Great Southern rail holiday from Adelaide to Brisbane (including touring in the Grampians, Canberra and a beachside dining experience on the New South Wales Coast) or opt for the four-day Brisbane-Adelaide route, which features the Hunter Valley wine region and the Twelve Apostles.

Popular Holidays

The Ghan Expedition

from £2,250
excluding flights
3 nights May-Oct
Experience the very heart of Australia aboard the legendary Ghan railway from Darwin to Adelaide.
  • Escorted
  • Rail