Five of the Best Rail Journeys in Australia

We all know Australia is huge, it’s a continent, after all. Flying is probably the quickest way to get from one end of the of country to another, but other than clouds, what do you actually see? Well, not a lot. For me, it would be a rail trip all the way. I can’t drive, so that’s out of the question for me, and many others just don’t want the hassle of hiring a car and physically driving. Kicking back in a comfortable train carriage is relaxation and scenery all the way.

Because of the sheer size of Australia, there are plenty of different rail lines running across it and through it. Some are obviously more scenic than others, but let’s take a look at five of the best to help inspire you to plan Australia train journeys.


Indian Pacific

For me, this is without a doubt THE best rail journey in the whole of Australia. Why? Well, because it basically means you’re crossing an entire continent, and witnessing the landscape as you go. Get a good camera with a fast shutter speed and your photos will be something to remember! The Indian Pacific runs from Sydney to Adelaide to Perth, with everything in between. You even get stop off time in Adelaide, which is great if you’ve never been before. Running once a week all year, and twice during the busier times, you’ll travel from Sydney, through the Blue Mountains, past the longest stretch of rail that is literally nothingness, called the Nullarbor Plain, into Adelaide, through Kalgoorlie, and into Perth. All in all it takes three days, but the landscapes you’ll pass through are nothing but breathtaking.


Of the many things that sums up Australia, I’d say one of the main ones is the Red Centre, and of course the magical and mysterious Uluru, or Ayres Rock. The Ghan rail service links Adelaide, Alice Springs and Darwin once a week regardless of the month, but also twice a week during April to October. This is serious nature and scenery before you, and again, transport is comfortable and equipped with all mod cons, including bedrooms. Long-distance travel in Australia is quite the luxury thing compared to some countries! I don’t think you’ll see landscapes like this anywhere else in the world, and for that reason alone, travelling by rail, with the comfort and time to appreciate it, is something very special indeed.

Overlander – Melbourne to Adelaide

The name suggests exactly what it is, a train covering an over land distance! Again, comfortable travel with reclining seats, a café, and plenty of room to stretch your legs. The Overlander runs three times a week, and is relatively cheap. You’ll still see a lot of scenery along the way, but saves you the sometimes costly airfare that is associated with travel between major Australian cities. Like we touched on before, clouds aren’t interesting, landscapes are.

The Great Ocean Road – By Rail

Sounds quite contradictory, but bear with me. Basically, the Great Ocean Road is one of the best road trips in the country, but if for some reason you’re unable to drive, then how do you see it? Well there’s the bus I suppose, but there is also a train that does a one day trip. Running three times per week, you’ll see the scenery and awe of this famous road, by rail, from Sydney, through the imposing Blue Mountains, and into Melbourne. Yes, it’s not the same as the car where you’re able to stop and take it all in, but as a second option, this is one certainly to be considered.

Brisbane to Cairns

I probably keep repeating myself, but again, you’re getting a sense of the differing landscapes here. You can choose the bang up to date Spirit of Queensland tilt train if you wish, which is renovated to a very high standard, and even serves you food in your seat, so it’s got all the perks of flying, but with the scenery as the best added extra possible. On this particular journey you’ll leave Brisbane and head towards Townsville, before embarking further along the coast northwards towards Cairns. Breath-taking? Yes. Comfortable? Definitely.

I feel like I’ve repeated myself a little, but the basic truth is this – traveling by train gives you a much deeper sense of the place you’re visiting, and witnessing the awe of the many difference landscapes for yourself.


photo credit: David Ashford via photopin cc

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