Travelling by train in Australia...

Australia is a huge country.  And the best way to appreciate its vastness is to cross it at ground level by train, in comfort.  The famous Indian Pacific links Sydney, Adelaide & Perth in 3 days, crossing the great Nullarbor Plain in the process.  Don't miss out on a visit to the 'red centre' of Australia around Alice Springs, and there's no better way to reach Alice Springs or Darwin than by the equally famous Ghan from Adelaide.  In the East, comfortable XPT trains link Sydney with Melbourne & Brisbane at affordable prices, and Queensland Railways links Brisbane with Townsville & Cairns.  On this page you'll find train times, fares, how to buy tickets, and advice on what the train & the journey are like for all the main Australian train routes.

 Train routes in Australia...  Interactive map - click on a route for information.

www.spiritoftasmania.com.au The Overland, Melbourne - Adelaide The Ghan, Adelaide - Alice Springs - Darwin Queensland Railways, Brisbane - Townsville - Cairns CountryLink trains Sydney - Melbourne, Canberra, Brisbane The Indian Pacific, Sydney - Adelaide - Perth Transwa Prospector Kalgoorlie - Perth Brisbane - Townsville - Cairns Kalgoorlie - Perth V-Line trains around Melbourne & Victoria www.spiritoftasmania.com.au Sydney to Melbourne, Canberra & Brisbane Melbourne - Adelaide Adelaide - Alice Springs - Darwin Sydney-Adelaide-Perth

 

Train times, fares & info...

Sydney - Adelaide - Perth

Sydney - Melbourne

Sydney - Brisbane

Sydney - Canberra

Melbourne - Adelaide

Adelaide - Alice Springs - Darwin

Brisbane - Townsville - Cairns

Rockhampton-Longreach

Cairns-Forsayth

Kalgoorlie - Perth

Great Ocean Road, Melbourne

On other pages...

Europe to Australia without flying

Train travel in New Zealand

Hotels...

I recommend the excellent hotel price comparison site hotelscombined.com.


Useful country information

Train operators:

www.railaustralia.com.au for times & fares for all Australian trains

Sydney to Melbourne, Brisbane, Canberra:  www.nswtrainlink.info

Sydney-Adelaide-Perth, Adelaide-Alice Springs-Darwin, Melbourne-Adelaide: www.greatsouthernrail.com.au

Brisbane-Townsville-Cairns:  www.queenslandrailtravel.com.au.  Kalgoorlie-Perth:  www.transwa.wa.gov.au  

V/Line (Victoria regional trains):  www.vline.com.au.  Ferry Melbourne-Tasmania: www.spiritoftasmania.com.au

 

 

Railpasses:

Buy an Australian railpass

5-star train-based holidays to Australia    

Time zones:

Sydney, Melbourne: GMT+10 (+11 Oct-March).  Cairns:  GMT+10 all year.  Adelaide:  GMT+9½ (+10½ Oct-March).  Alice Springs: GMT+9½ all year.  Perth:  GMT+8 all year.

Currency:

£1 = 1.59 Australian dollars,  $1 = 1.02 Aus$.  Currency converter

Dialling code:

Dial code +61

Hotels:

Hotel search & price comparison

Flights:

Cheapest flights to Australia

Visas:

UK & most European citizens need a free eVisitor visa to visit Australia, see www.immi.gov.au/visitors/tourist/evisitor.  If you're a citizen of the USA, Canada, Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea, Singapore, Malaysia & some other countries, you need an Electronic Travel Authority, see www.eta.immi.gov.au.

Page last updated:

3 September 2014


Sydney - Adelaide - Perth

  The Indian Pacific:  By train from Sydney to Adelaide to Perth

The Indian Pacific:  One of the World's greatest train journeys, linking Sydney, Adelaide & Perth...

The Indian Pacific, the train across Australia...

Australia's biggest train journey, in every sense of the word...  This is a fabulous train ride right across Australia from Sydney or Adelaide to Perth, giving you a real sense of Australia's vastness which flying simply cannot deliver.  With a cosy bed at night in your own room, a restaurant for your meals and a lounge in which to relax during the day, it's a rolling hotel.  Now run by a private company called Great Southern Rail (www.greatsouthernrail.com.au), the Indian Pacific links Sydney, Adelaide & Perth once a week all year round, twice a week in  peak periods.  The Indian Pacific has only existed since the 1970s, when a standard gauge line was finally completed across the continent from Sydney to Perth, some 4,343km or 2,698 miles.  Today, both the Indian Pacific and its sister train the Ghan use the original stainless-steel coaches built by the American Budd company for the first Indian Pacific trains when they started running in 1973.  Suitably modernised, of course.  This train is well worth including in your grand Australian tour! 

What's it like on board the Indian Pacific?    What's the journey like?

 Sydney Adelaide Perth

 

 Perth ► Adelaide ► Sydney

 Indian Pacific, westbound...
 Indian Pacific, eastbound...

 Sydney Central

depart

14:55

 Wednesdays & Saturdays*

 Perth (East)

depart

11:55

 Wednesdays & Sundays**

 Broken Hill

arrive

06:40

 Thursdays & Sundays*

 Kalgoorlie

arrive

22:15

 Wednesdays & Sundays**

 Adelaide

arrive

15:05

 Thursdays & Sundays*

 Kalgoorlie

depart

01:40

 Thursdays & Mondays**

 Adelaide

depart

18:40

 Thursdays & Sundays*

 Adelaide

arrive

07:20

 Fridays & Tuesdays**

 Kalgoorlie

arrive

19:10

 Fridays & Mondays*

 Adelaide

depart

10:00

 Fridays & Tuesdays**

 Kalgoorlie

depart

22:40

 Fridays & Mondays*

 Broken Hill

depart

18:30

 Fridays & Tuesdays**

 Perth (East)

arrive

09:10

 Saturdays & Tuesdays*

 Sydney Central

arrive

10:15

 Saturdays & Wednesdays**

*  Wednesday departures from Sydney run all year round, but Saturday departures only run from September to October.

**  Sunday departures from Perth run all year round, but Wednesday departures only run September to October.

Please double check departure dates at www.greatsouthernrail.com.au.   Passengers can take their cars on the Indian Pacific, see www.greatsouthernrail.com.au.

 Indian Pacific fares

 One-way fares, per person:   

Platinum

sleeper:

Gold Service

twin sleeper:

Gold Service

single sleeper

Red Service

reclining seat:

 Sydney - Perth

Adult

AUS$3890

AUS$2420

AUS$2178

AUS$868 (Railsaver $651)

Child (under 16)

-

AUS$1694

AUS$1527

AUS$490

 Sydney - Adelaide

Adult

AUS$1215

AUS$638

AUS$574

AUS$375 (Railsaver $281)

Child (under 16)

-

AUS$688

AUS$612

AUS$213

 Adelaide - Perth

Adult

AUS$2850

AUS$1750

AUS$1575

AUS$553 (Railsaver $415)

Child (under 16)

-

AUS$1202

AUS$1083

AUS$310

Advance purchase discount:  If you book over 6 months in advance, there's a 10% discount on Platinum & 25% discount Gold tickets

Children under 4 go free.  Return fares are twice the one-way fare, but check railpass prices as these can be cheaper. 

A small fuel surcharge is now being added (around A$10-30).

Railsaver = special fare with limited availability, no refunds, limited changes.

The Platinum sleeper price is per person for two people sharing, in Platinum a solo passenger pays double the price.

Gold & Platinum fares include all meals and (from April 2013), soft drinks, beer & wine.  Meals are extra in Red Service.

Note that the Pensioner fares shown on the GSR website are for Australian senior citizens only.

£1 = Aus$1.59,  US$1 = Aus$1.02.  Currency converter.

How to buy tickets...

Rail pass options...

There are railpasses for Australia, if you want to make multiple journeys around the continent.  Just remember that you'll still need to make a reservation on the trains you want to take.  The passes cover a Red class seat, you can upgrade to a Gold Service sleeper by paying the difference in fare.

Rail Explorer Pass:  Unlimited Red Service reclining seat travel on the Indian Pacific, Ghan & Overland for 6 months, for £391 adult, £335 student/backpacker/child aged 4-15.

Check pass prices & buy from UK-based International Rail UK agency, prices in £, passes sent to any address worldwide.

Check pass prices & buy from Australia-based International Rail Australian agency, prices in Aus$, passes sent to any address worldwide.

Have your trip professionally arranged...

  • f you want someone to arrange your Australian trip for you, with trains, stopovers, hotels, transfers and (if necessary) flights all sorted, train travel specialist www.railbookers.com can arrange holidays by train to your own specification.  Just tell them what you want (or ask them for their suggestions) and they can make all your arrangements.

      UK call 020 3327 0761, www.railbookers.com

    Call toll-free 1-800-408-3280 or www.us.railbookers.com.

      Australia call toll-free 1300 971 526, www.railbookers.com.au

      New Zealand call toll-free 0800 002 034 or see website.

What's a journey on the Indian Pacific like?

The 'IP' leaves Sydney Central Station in downtown Sydney in late afternoon and threads its way through Sydney's suburban commuterland.  As night falls it climbs up through the scenic Blue Mountains passing through Katoomba, and next morning you'll wake up in arid outback country around Broken Hill.  Look out for kangaroo and emu over breakfast in the train's restaurant car!  The train arrives in Adelaide in the afternoon, with time for a city tour even if you're not stopping off, and leaves again for Perth in the early evening.  The day after leaving Adelaide the Indian Pacific crosses the hot, dusty emptiness of the famous Nullarbor Plain on the longest stretch of straight railway line in the world, 478 km or 297 miles, 'nullarbor' being Latin for 'no trees'.  The train stops long enough for you to visit the tiny community of Cook.  If you've ever wondered what the Middle of Nowhere looks like, this is it!  Once off the Nullarbor you can play 'spot the koala' over dinner as the beautiful evening sun plays over the leafy eucalyptus trees.  After dinner that evening the train stops at the gold rush town of Kalgoorlie for 3½ hours, long enough for a walkabout.  Next morning after breakfast the train rolls into the pleasant and modern city of Perth, capital of Western Australia.  Congratulations, you've just crossed a continent!

Yours truly at lunch on the Indian Pacific train as it crosses the Nullarbor Plain   Cook, on the Nullarbor Plain

Lunch on the Nullarbor Plain.  The Indian Pacific labours across the famous Nullarbor Plain, on the world's longest dead straight section of railway, 478 km or 297 miles.  If you've ever wondered what The Middle of Nowhere looks like, this is it.  It's very dry in this vastness, of course, better have another beer...

 

Get Sick at Cook!  Eastbound & westbound Indian Pacifics pass each other at Cook, a tiny community on the Nullarbor Plain where you can get out & stretch your legs. The humour is also pretty dry out here:  Unfortunately, not enough people got sick so the hospital closed...

Koala spotting from the Indian Pacific's restaurant car   Statue of Paddy Hannan in Kalgoorlie

Koala spotting at dinner, just off the Nullarbor Plain and heading for Kalgoorlie.  The warm early-evening light on the eucalypt trees is magical...

 

In Kalgoorlie the Indian Pacific stops long enough for an evening wander.  This is Paddy Hannan who founded Kalgoorlie when he found gold in 1893.

What's it like on board the Indian Pacific and The Ghan?

The Indian Pacific & the Ghan use similar equipment.  They both have two main classes of accommodation, Gold Service sleepers & Red Service reclining seats.  Certain departures now feature a fourth premium class, Platinum Service sleepers.  Which should you choose?  If you want the 'experience of a lifetime' and can afford it, go Gold Service sleeper for all the comforts, complete with restaurant car meals included.  Platinum Service gets you a bigger sleeper with (if you want one) a double bed, but Platinum passengers use the same lounge and restaurant as Gold passengers, and most of your day will be spent there.  At the other extreme, if you're on a very tight budget, Red Service seats allow you to experience one of the world's great train journeys for not much more than you'd pay for a flight plus a hotel room or two.  Unfortunately, Red Service sleepers, the economy sleeper option, were discontinued in 2013.

Gold Service (formerly first class)...

Gold Service passengers travel in private sleepers, either 2-berth 'twinettes' for passengers travelling in twos or single-berth 'roomettes' for passengers travelling alone, see the photos below.  The price per person is the same.  Both roomettes and twinettes come with comfortable freshly made-up beds, towels and a complimentary toiletries pack with soap, shampoo, razor, toothbrush, toothpaste, etc..  The fare includes excellent 3-course meals served in the Queen Adelaide restaurant car, and you can use the Outback Explorer lounge car (sometimes two of them) with bar & armchairs, complimentary tea & coffee always available.  The bar in the Outback Explorer lounge serves cocktails, beer & wine, and as from April 2013 beer and standard wines are complimentary in Gold service.

Gold Service on the Indian Pacific & The Ghan trains:  The Queen Adelaide Restaurant   Gold Service on the Indian Pacific & The Ghan trains:  Outback Explorers Lounge

Gold Service Queen Adelaide restaurant.  Meals are included in the fare.  Photo courtesy of James Chuang

 

Gold Service Outback Explorer Lounge for Gold & Platinum Service guests.  Photo courtesy of James Chuang

Twinette sleeper:  If there's two of you, you'll get a relatively spacious 2-berth sleeper called a Twinette.

The twinette sleeping-cars have a conventional layout with a corridor along one side of the car, with compartments opening off it.  Each twinette compartment has an upper & lower bed which fold away to reveal a sofa for daytime use. 

Twinettes have a tiny private bathroom with hot shower, toilet & washbasin.  Soap, shampoo, towels are all provided.

The photos to the right pretty accurately show the size of the room, with the compact shower & toilet opening off the wall to the left of shot.

Photos courtesy of James Chuang 

  Gold Service on the Indian Pacific & The Ghan trains:  Twinette sleeper, day   Gold Service on the Indian Pacific & The Ghan trains:  Twinette sleeper in night mode
 

Gold Service twinette, day mode...

 

Gold Service twinette, night-time.

Gold Service on the Indian Pacific & The Ghan trains:  Roomette in day mode   Gold Service on the Indian Pacific & The Ghan trains:  Roomette in night mode   The drop down sink in a Gold Service roomette

Gold Service roomette, daytime.  Taken from doorway.

Gold Service roomette, night mode.  The bed folds out from behind the seat, taking up almost the whole room...

 

The drop-down sink in single-berth roomette.

Roomette:  If you're travelling alone in Gold Service, you'll get a cosy private roomette.  Roomette sleeping-cars have a corridor snaking through the centre of the car in a series of gentle 's' curves with doors to the roomettes opening off both sides of it (the curves in the corridor maximise the space in each roomette, by making it wider at the head end).  Each roomette is only about 7 feet long by 4 feet wide, just big enough for a comfy armchair, a table, and a drop-down sink in one corner, though the drop-down flush toilet originally fitted underneath each sink is now boarded up out of use.  At night, the bed folds down from behind the seat and takes up most of the room.  There's an excellent hot shower & toilets at the end of the corridor.

Red service sleeper (formerly Holiday Class)

UPDATE 2013:  Red Service sleeper has been discontinued on all departures from 1 April onwards, along with the Red Service lounge car, so that Gold Sleeper capacity can be boosted.  This leaves a Red Service reclining seat, Gold or Platinum sleepers as the only options.

Red Service reclining seats (formerly Economy Class)...

Passengers travel in comfortable reclining dayniter seats with plenty of legroom and adjustable leg-rests.  Bring your own rug and pillow if required.  There's a hot shower at the end of the coach, with soap and towels provided for each passenger.  Seats passengers can use the Red Service 'Matilda Cafe' self-service cafe-restaurant where they can buy snacks, soft & alcoholic drinks and complete meals, and rent personal DVD players and feature films.  Unfortunately there is now no Red Service lounge car, this was discontinued in April 2013.  Naturally, sleeping in a seat is a bit 'rough' compared to the comforts of a proper bed in a cosy sleeper, especially if you are doing the whole 3-night journey in one go and not stopping off (which would be my first suggestion, to break the journey up), but a Red Service seat is far cheaper than a Gold or Platinum sleeper, you're not stuck in a seat like a bus as you've got space to move, a shower, there's the cafe-restaurant car and of course the scenery is just as good as travelling in a sleeper.  The Red Service seats option makes this journey affordable for budget travellers when compared to flying plus a hotel room or two.  Even in a seat, there's no comparison between the experience of a train journey across Australia and the mundane non-experience of a flight.  In other words, you might find journey on the Indian Pacific in a seat enjoyable or you might find it a bit uncomfortable, but either way you'll have loads to write home about, if you fly you won't.

The Indian Pacific train name board   Indian Pacific & The Ghan:  Red Service reclining seats

The Indian Pacific's stainless steel coaches catch the late afternoon sun at Adelaide before setting off on an epic journey across Australia to Perth...

 

Red Service dayniter reclining seats on the Indian Pacific & Ghan.  Seats passengers can use the Matilda Cafe & (for A$15 per day) the Red Gum Lounge. Photo James Chuang.

Indian Pacific & The Ghan:  Red Service lounge car   Indian Pacific & The Ghan:  Red Service restaurant

The Red Gum lounge has now been discontinued as of April 2013, leaving seats and restaurant as the only cars in Red Service.  Courtesy Guy Broughton.

 

Red Service Matilda Café, serving snacks, meals and drinks to Red sleeper and Red seat passengers.  Photo courtesy of James Chuang

Platinum service sleeper

Certain departures of the Ghan and Indian Pacific now feature a new ultra-luxurious (and expensive!) Platinum Service, with a choice of double-bed or twin-bed sleeper compartments with private shower and toilet and extra space even compared to Gold Service.  As with Gold Service, meals are included in the fare, served in the Queen Adelaide restaurant, and Platinum passengers may use the Outback Explorer Lounge with bar.  You'll have to use the journey planner at www.greatsouthernrail.com.au to see which departures have Platinum Service available.

Platinum sleeper on the Indian Pacific and Ghan in day mode   Platinum twin sleeper on the Indian Pacific & Ghan   Platinum sleeper on the Indian Pacific and Ghan

Platinum twin sleeper, in daytime mode.

 

Platinum twin sleeper, in night mode.

 

Platinum double bed sleeper, in daytime mode.  Photos courtesy of James Chuang

Sponsored Links...

 


Adelaide - Alice Springs - Darwin

Take the Ghan to Australia's red centre...

  The Ghan: By train from Adelaide to Alice Springs and Darwin

The Ghan:  One of Australia's great train journeys, Adelaide to Alice Springs & Darwin.  Courtesy of James Chuang

This train is undoubtedly the best way to reach Australia's fabulous 'Red centre' and the iconic 'Uluru' (Ayer's Rock).  Australia's second most famous train, the legendary Ghan links Adelaide, Alice Springs & (since 2004) Darwin, once a week all year round, twice a week from April to October.  By using the train you get a real feel for the scale of the Australian outback, which you simply don't on a plane.  Like the Indian Pacific, the Ghan is now run by Great Southern Rail, and has the same classes of accommodation & facilities:  Gold Class sleepers, lounge & restaurant, Red Class reclining 'dayniter' seats & self-service cafe-restaurant, see the section above.  Most departures of the Ghan now have an additional class of accommodation, the new super-deluxe Platinum Class complete with double (or twin lower) beds.

The Ghan gets its name from the (supposedly) Afghan camels and camel drivers who used to carry supplies up to Alice Springs before the railway came.  The first railway was narrow gauge, and the old Ghan was notoriously slow, taking 48 hours from Adelaide to Alice.  Only in the early 1980s was this new standard-gauge line opened taking a more direct route.  The journey time has been cut to an afternoon and a night, and the service doubled to twice weekly for much of the year.  Connections are available to/from Sydney and Melbourne using the Indian Pacific or Overland, see the Indian Pacific and Overland sections below.  The railway onwards to Darwin was completed in January 2004, and in February that year the Ghan was extended to Darwin once a week, doubled to twice-weekly in 2006.  Book early, as there has been huge interest in the service to Darwin and bookings have exceeded even Great Southern Rail's expectations.

The Ghan Timetable...

 Adelaide ► Alice Springs ► Darwin

 

 Darwin Alice Springs Adelaide

 The Ghan, northbound...
 The Ghan, southbound...

 Adelaide

depart 

12:20 

Sundays & Wednesdays*

 Darwin

depart 

10:00 Wednesdays

 09:00 Saturdays*

 Alice Springs

arrive

13:45

Mondays & Thursdays

 Alice Springs 

arrive

09:10 Thursdays

 11:15 Sundays*

 Alice Springs

depart

18:00

Mondays & Thursdays

 Alice Springs

depart

12:45 Thursdays

 15:15 Sundays*

 Darwin

arrive

18:30

Tuesdays & Fridays

 Adelaide

arrive

12:30 Fridays

 12:30 Mondays*

* IMPORTANT:  The Wednesday departure from Adelaide and the Saturday departure from Darwin only operate from June to August.  Furthermore, the Ghan will only run once per fortnight in December 2013 and January 2014.

Passengers can take their cars on the Ghan, see www.greatsouthernrail.com.au.      What's it like on board The Ghan?

 Fares for the Ghan...

 One-way fares, per person

Platinum

Service

sleeper:

Gold Service

twin sleeper:

Gold Service

single sleeper

Red Service

reclining seat:

 Adelaide to

 Alice Springs

Adult

AUS$2290*

AUS$1190

AUS$1071

AUS$431 (Railsaver $323)

Child (under 16)

n/a

AUS$758

AUS$758

AUS$202

Adult Apex 6m+

AU$2061

AUS$893

AUS$803

n/a

Child Apex 6m+

n/a

AUS$617

AUS$556

n/a

 Adelaide to

 Darwin

Adult

AUS$3390*

AUS$2290

AUS$2061

AUS$862 (Railsaver $647)

Child (under 16)

n/a

AUS$1582

AUS$1426

AUS$403

Adult Apex 6m+

AU$3051

AUS$1718

AUS$1546

n/a

Child Apex 6m+

n/a

AUS$1187

AUS$1070

n/a

* The Platinum sleeper price is per person for two people sharing.  In Platinum class, a solo passenger pays double the price.

Children under 4 go free.  Return fares are twice the one-way fare, but check railpass prices as these can be cheaper. 

A small fuel surcharge is now being added (around A$10-30).

Apex 6m+ = discounted advance purchase fare, bought at least 6 months in advance.

Railsaver = special fare with limited availability, no refunds, limited changes.

Gold & Platinum fares include all meals and (from April 2013), soft drinks, beer & wine.  Meals are extra in Red Service.

Note that the Pensioner fares shown on the GSR website are for Australian senior citizens only.

£1 = Aus$1.59,  US$1 = Aus$1.02.  Currency converter.

How to buy tickets...

Rail pass options...

There are railpasses for Australia, if you want to make multiple journeys around the continent.  Just remember that you'll still need to make a reservation on the trains you want to take.  The passes cover a Red class seat, you can upgrade to a Gold Service sleeper by paying the difference in fare.

Check pass prices & buy from UK-based International Rail UK agency, prices in £, passes sent to any address worldwide.

Check pass prices & buy from Australia-based International Rail Australian agency, prices in Aus$, passes sent to any address worldwide.

Have your trip professionally arranged...

What's it like on board the Ghan?  See the accommodation above...

A trip on the Ghan from Adelaide to Alice Springs & Australia's 'Red Centre'...

The Ghan from Adelaide to Alice Springs & Darwin:  Boarding Platinum Class   Heavitree Gap, where the train enters Alice Springs

Boarding the Ghan at Adelaide, bound for Alice Springs and Darwin.  Courtesy of James Chuang

Heavitree Gap, where both road and railway enter Alice Springs from the south...

The original 'Alice Spring'...   Ayer's Rock - Uluru.  Get there by train!

The original 'Alice Spring' at Alice Springs Telegraph station, see the Telegraph station museum website.

Ayer's Rock (Uluru), 275 miles southwest of Alice, see www.environment.gov.au/parks/uluru

Alice Springs...

The Alice, as it's usually known, still has a frontier feel to it.  Originally called Stuart and only officially renamed Alice Springs in 1933, it grew up around a telegraph station on the overland telegraph linking southern Australia with London.  The site for the telegraph station was chosen because there was water, a spring  which was named after the wife of Charles Todd, superintendent of telegraphs in Adelaide.  You can still see the telegraph station, now a museum, at the North end of the town.  Next to it (pictured above, at the base of the white rock) is the very birthplace of the town - the original, dried up 'Alice spring'.  Telegraph station museum websiteNorthern Territories official visitor website.

Ayer's Rock (Uluru)...

You'll want to explore the outback whilst in Alice Springs, including Uluru, the world's largest sandstone monolith.  It's some 275 miles southwest of Alice - the outback is a big place!  It's a fabulous area with lots to see besides Uluru, including the Olgas (Kata Tjuta) & King's Canyon.  You can see Uluru & Kata Tjuta as a 17 hour day trip from Alice (which includes a 5 hour drive each way), but it's far better to book a 2, 3 or 4-day 4-wheel drive camping safari to see more in less of a hurry.  Try www.wayoutback.com.au.  You're still allowed to climb Uluru, a steep scramble along the tourist track up the least perpendicular part of its sandstone sides - however, aboriginal people request that you don't.  The website for Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park is www.environment.gov.au/parks/uluru.


Melbourne - Adelaide

   
  The 'Overland' train from Melbourne to Adelaide

The Overland:  The 'Emu' logo on the stainless steel cars of the Overland train from Melbourne to Adelaide. Courtesy of James Chuang

The Overland...

The most civilised and pleasant way to travel between central Melbourne and central Adelaide is aboard the three-times-a-week Overlander, no need to use domestic flights.  It's the third of the three trains run by www.greatsouthernrail.com.au.

 Melbourne ► Adelaide

          

 Adelaide Melbourne

 The Overland...

Tuesdays, Thursdays*, Saturdays

 The Overland...

Mondays, Wednesdays*, Fridays

 Melbourne (Southern Cross)

depart

08:05

 Adelaide (Keswick)

depart

07:45

 Adelaide (Keswick)

arrive

17:55

 Melbourne (Southern Cross)

arrive

18:50

The Overland will not run from Adelaide on 25 December or from Melbourne on 26 December.

* Government cuts:  The Thursday departure from Melbourne and Wednesday departure from Adelaide will not run from 7 August 2013 to 27 March 2014.

 Fares

 One-way fare

Red Premium seat:

(first class):

Red seat:

(standard class)

 Melbourne - Adelaide

Adult

AUS$166

AUS$116 (Railsaver $87)

Child

AUS$108

AUS$60

£1 = 1.59 Australian dollars,  $1 = 1.02 Aus$.  Currency converter.

Railsaver = advance purchase, limited availability.

Southern Cross is the new name for Melbourne's refurbished Spencer Street station.  Railpass information.

How to buy tickets...

What's it like on board the Overland?

The Overland has spacious and comfortable 'Red Service' standard class reclining seats with loads of legroom, and deluxe 'Red Premium' first class reclining seats with even more room and at-seat meal service (although meals are not included in the fare).  All passengers can access the licensed buffet-bar.  See a review of a journey on the Overland on Tripadvisor.

Refurbished Red Premium seats on the 'Overland' Melbourne to Adelaide train.   Refurbished Red service seats on the 'Overland' Melbourne to Adelaide train.   Refurbished Red Cafe car on the 'Overland' Melbourne to Adelaide train.

Red Premium (first class) seating on the Overland.  Photo courtesy of James Chuang

 

Red service seating.

This & cafe photo courtesy of James Chuang

 

The Overland cafe car. Far more civilised than flying or a nightmare bus journey.


Sydney Melbourne, Canberra & Brisbane

NSW TrainLink's XPT & XPLORER trains...

Comfortable air-conditioned trains link Sydney with Melbourne, Brisbane and Canberra, city centre to city centre, with no need to fly!  These trains are run by NSW TrainLink, formerly CountryLink, formerly the State Rail Authority of New South Wales.  NSW TrainLink runs two comfortable XPT trains every day from Sydney to Melbourne, one by day and the other a time-effective overnight train with sleeping-car.  A similar daytime and overnight XPT service links Sydney to Brisbane, although as trains alternate between Brisbane and Casino, a bus connection is needed to Brisbane on one of the two.  Equally comfortable XPLORER trains link Sydney with Canberra several times a day.  More info & online booking at www.nswtrainlink.info.

CountryLink XPT trains from Sydney to Melbourne and Brisbane   Economy class seats on CountryLink XPT train from Sydney to  Melbourne & Sydney to Brisbane   First class seats on CountryLink XPT train from Sydney to  Melbourne & Sydney to Brisbane

XPT trains.

Photo courtesy of Rail Australia...

Economy class seating on an XPT train.

Spot the difference...  First class seats on an XPT are almost identical to economy.

XPT trains might look familiar.  That's because they're based on the UK's InterCity 125, but re-geared to 100mph and with (you'll be pleased to learn...) beefed-up air-conditioning.  XPTs have first and economy class reclining seats.  First and economy class seating is virtually identical - if you look really closely and get your tape measure out, you'll find there's 2" more legroom in first, but that's the only difference, elbow room and the seats themselves are exactly the same.  So there is hardly any point in paying for first class unless economy is full.  XPTs have a buffet car selling food and drink, including wine.  XPLORERs (pictured, below right), which have similar seating to XPTs and a buffet-bar.

XPT sleeping-cars:  The overnight Sydney-Melbourne & Sydney-Brisbane XPT trains have one sleeping-car with 2-berth rooms.  A sofa converts to a lower berth and an upper berth folds out from the wall, with mattress and all necessary bedding.  There's a hot shower & toilet shared between each pair of adjacent compartments, just outside your compartment door.  Book early, as there's only one sleeping-car per train and it gets booked up fast.  Unfortunately sleepers cannot be booked online, so you need to book at the station or by phone - from outside Australia call NSW TrainLink on +61 2 4907 7501.

  A CountryLink Xplorer train about to leave Sydney for Canberra  
 

XPT train...

Photo courtesy of James Chuang

 
  2-berth sleeper on a CountryLink XPT train from Sydney to Melbourne or from Sydney to Brisbane  
 

XPT sleeper:  This is a 2-berth sleeper on the overnight train from Sydney to Melbourne or from Sydney to Brisbane.  There's a toilet & hot shower between each pair of compartments. 

Photo courtesy of Rail Australia...

 
  A CountryLink Xplorer train about to leave Sydney for Canberra  
 

Xplorer train from Sydney to Canberra.  Courtesy of Rail Australia...

 

 Sydney ► Melbourne

 

     

 Melbourne ► Sydney

 NSW TrainLink XPT

Daily

Daily

 NSW TrainLink XPT

Daily

Daily

 Sydney Central depart

07:32

20:32

 Melbourne (Southern Cross)

08:30

19:50

 Melbourne (Southern Cross)

18:30

07:25

 Sydney Central arrive

19:53

06:53

XPT train with 1st & Economy class seats & buffet-bar.  Sleeping-car available on overnight train with 2-berth rooms, shower & toilet adjacent.

Check times before travel at www.nswtrainlink.info, times can vary.  Southern Cross is the new name for Melbourne's refurbished Spencer Street station.

 Sydney ► Brisbane

 

     

 Brisbane ► Sydney

 NSW TrainLink XPT

Daily

 Daily

 NSW TrainLink XPT

Daily

Daily

 Sydney Central depart

 07:11

14:41

 Brisbane (Roma Street) depart 

05:55

 15:10**

 Brisbane (Roma Street) arrive

 22:34*

03:53

 Sydney Central arrive

20:12

 06:59

*  The 07:15 XPT from Sydney terminates at Casino at 18:44, you must change there for a bus connection to Brisbane.

**  The 15:10 departure from Brisbane is by bus to Casino, then by train (departing 19:30) to Sydney.

XPT train with 1st & Economy class seats & buffet-bar.  Sleeping-car available on overnight train with 2-berth rooms, shower & toilet adjacent.

Important:  Arrivals & departures in Brisbane are one hour earlier during daylight saving time (October to April).

The ridiculously early arrival in Brisbane at 03:53 is down to local politicos forcing the XPT out of peak arrival times in preference to mere local trains.

Please double-check times at www.nswtrainlink.info, as times can vary.

 Sydney ►Canberra

 

 Canberra ► Sydney

 NSW TrainLink

 XPLORER

Daily

Daily

Daily

 NSW TrainLink

 XPLORER

Daily

Mon-Fri

Sat, Sun

Daily

 Sydney Central depart

06:57

12:08

18:12

 Canberra depart

 06:50

11:53

11:40

17:20

 Canberra arrive

11:22

16:22

22:30

 Sydney Central arr.

 10:56

15:59

15:56

21:37

Please check times at www.nswtrainlink.info, as times can vary slightly.

 NSW TrainLink fares...

 One-way fares per person:

Economy seat   

1st class seat  

1st class sleeper

 Sydney - Melbourne

Low season fare

A$110

A$155

A$243

High season fare

A$130

A$183

A$271

 Sydney - Brisbane

Low season fare

A$110

A$155

A$243

High season fare

A$130

A$183

A$271

 Sydney - Canberra

Low season fare

A$48

A$67

-

High season fare

A$56

A$79

-

£1 = 1.59 Australian dollars,  $1 = 1.02 Aus$.  Currency converter.

How to buy tickets:  www.nswtrainlink.info


The Great Ocean Road by train+bus

Great Ocean Road 1-day tour by train+bus:  Every Monday, Wednesday, Friday...

  Great Ocean Road:  'The 12 apostles'  
 

The 12 Apostles, Great Ocean Road...

 

The Great Ocean Road along the coast from Melbourne is one of the great scenic drives of Australia.  You can hire a car and drive it, or there are various 1-day bus tours from Melbourne.  But rather than endure a bus for the whole day, there's a 1-day tour on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays run by V/Line, the regional train and bus operator, using comfortable trains from Melbourne's Southern Cross station, as follows...

How much does this day trip cost?  How to buy tickets?


Sydney...

Sydney is a fantastic city.  Take a tour of the opera house (www.sydneyoperahouse.com).  Wander through the botanic gardens.  Visit the observation deck of the Centrepoint Tower (www.sydneytower.com.au).  Take a ferry from Circular Quay to Watson's Bay for fish and chips at Doyle's famous refreshment rooms (www.doyles.com.au, look for 'Doyles on the beach', for Sydney ferry information see www.sydneyferries.info).  For general city tourist information see www.sydney.com.

Why not do the incredible Sydney Harbour Bridge climb (pictured, right)? From Aus$188 (£118), you are briefed and equipped for a walk up the girders of Sydney Harbour Bridge, for some fantastic views across the city, from the Pacific Ocean in the East to the Blue Mountains in the West.  The bridge climb tour has been operating since October 1998.  Book your climb online here or visit www.bridgeclimb.com for more information.

Buy a ticket for the Sydney Open Top Bus Tour - hop on, hop off.

On top of the world - Sydney Harbour Bridge

The Blue Mountains...

Looking for a scenic day out from Sydney?  Hop on a double-deck suburban train from Sydney to Katoomba in the Blue Mountains, 109.9km from Sydney - trains run about every hour, journey time 2 hours, fare around Aus$7.80 each way, or Aus$10.80 for an off-peak day return valid any time after 9am Monday-Friday or any time at weekends.  Children under 16 half fare, children under 4 free.  A short walk from the station brings you to the Three Sisters rock formation, overlooking the breathtaking Jamieson Valley, with lots of great scenic walks.  For information & a guide to walks, see www.bluemts.com.au or www.infobluemountains.net.au.

For Sydney Suburban train times & fares see www.cityrail.info (select 'Blue Mountains Line in their journey planner', and remember that Sydney Central is listed as just 'Central'.

  A double-deck train from Sydney arrives in Katoomba The Three Sisters, Katoomba

Melbourne...

Don't forget to visit the museum in Melbourne's old gaol, www.oldmelbournegaol.com.au.  Ned Kelly, Australia's most infamous outlaw, was imprisoned and hanged in Melbourne gaol, and his unique armour was originally displayed there (pictured, right).

Take a ride on Melbourne's trams (there's even a restaurant in a tram - eat your dinner travelling round the Melbourne streets, book a tramcar meal online here or see www.tramrestaurant.com.au).  For general tourist information, see www.visitmelbourne.com.

For a day or two out of town, drive the famous Great Ocean Road.  You can do this as a train+bus day tour from Melbourne, or you could hire a car for a day or two.  See www.greatoceanrd.org.au.

  Ned Kelly's armour, Melbourne gaol

Adelaide...

Named after the wife of King William IV, Adelaide is a much smaller city than Sydney or Melbourne, and much more relaxed.  Admirably well laid-out by its founder, Colonel William Light, the city centre is surrounded by parkland.  On Montefiore Hill to the north of the centre, you can see 'Light's vision', where Colonel Light stood to map out his plan for the city.  For city visit information see www.cityofadelaide.com.au.

It's worth hiring a car for a few days to visit some of the wine regions nearby, including the famous Barossa Valley, see www.barossa.com or www.barossa-valley-australia.com.au.

Don't drink this Jacob's Creek..!

Perth...

Perth is the capital of Western Australia, a clean, modern city - for visitor information see www.cityofperth.wa.gov.au

Frequent electric trains link Perth with Fremantle, see www.transperth.wa.gov.au for times & fares.  In the maritime museum in Fremantle are the remains of the Dutch East India company ship Batavia (pictured, right).  The ship was carrying a stone arch for the main gate of the city of Batavia (modern day Jakarta).  Needless to say, the arch never arrived...  See www.museum.wa.gov.au.

Buy a ticket for the Perth Open Top Bus Tour - hop on, hop off

Maritime museum, Freemantle (near Perth)

Brisbane - Townsville - Cairns

Queensland Railways...

Queensland Railways (QR) operates excellent passenger trains linking Brisbane, Townsville and Cairns, branded Traveltrain.  The trains operate on narrow gauge 3' 6" tracks, which explains why you need to change at Brisbane onto NSW TrainLink's standard gauge (4' 8½") trains to and from Sydney.  For more info & online tickets see www.queenslandrailtravel.com.au.

 Brisbane ► Townsville & Cairns  Until 12 October 2014

 

The Sunlander

Spirit of Queensland

 Brisbane (Roma St)

depart

09:00 (Sun)

13:25 (Tues & Thurs)

15:45 (Mon & Fri)

 Rockhampton

depart

20:50 (Sun)

23:55 (Tues & Thurs)

00:02 (Tue & Sat)

 Townsville

arrive

08:25 (Mon)

11:45 (Wed & Fri)

09:45 (Tue & Sat)

depart

08:50 (Mon)

12:10 (Wed & Fri)

09:55 (Tue & Sat)

 Cairns

arrive

15:45 (Mon) 

19:15 (Wed & Fri)

16:40 (Tue & Sat)

 Brisbane ► Townsville & Cairns   From 13 October 2014

 

The Sunlander

Spirit of Queensland

 Brisbane (Roma St)

depart

09:00 (Sun, until 28 Dec)

15:45 (Mon, Tue*, Wed, Fri, Sat)

 Rockhampton

depart

20:50 (Sun, until 28 Dec)

00:02 (Tue, Wed*, Thur, Sat, Sun)

 Townsville

arrive

08:25 (Mon, until 29 Dec)

09:45 (Tue, Wed*, Thur, Sat, Sun)

depart

08:50 (Mon, until 29 Dec)

09:55 (Tue, Wed*, Thur, Sat, Sun)

 Cairns

arrive

15:55 (Mon, until 29 Dec) 

15:45 (Tue, Wed*, Thur, Sat, Sun)

* = The Tuesday departure from Brisbane starts running from 9 December onwards.

 Cairns & Townsville ► Brisbane   Until 12 October 2014

 

The Sunlander

Spirit of Queensland

 Cairns

depart

07:15 (Tue, Thur & Sat)

08:05 (Wed & Sun)

 Townsville

arrive 

13:55 (Tue, Thur & Sat)

14:28 (Wed & Sun)

depart 

14:20 (Tue, Thur & Sat)

14:28 (Wed & Sun)

 Rockhampton

arrive

02:35 (Wed, Fri & Sun)

00:27 (Thur & Mon)

 Brisbane (Roma St)

arrive

13:35 (Wed, Fri & Sun)

09:00 (Thur & Mon)

 Cairns & Townsville ► Brisbane   From 13 October 2014

 

The Sunlander

Spirit of Queensland

 Cairns

depart

07:15 (Tue, until 31 Dec)

09:00 (Mon, Wed, Thur*, Fri, Sun)

 Townsville

arrive 

13:55 (Tue, until 31 Dec)

14:28 (Mon, Wed, Thur*, Fri, Sun)

depart 

14:20 (Tue, until 31 Dec)

14:28 (Mon, Wed, Thur*, Fri, Sun)

 Rockhampton

arrive

02:35 (that night)

00:27 (that night)

 Brisbane (Roma St)

arrive

13:10 (next day)

09:00 (next day)

* = The Thursday departure from Cairns starts running from 11 December onwards.

The SUNLANDER:  First class sleepers (private single or twin berth compartments), economy sleepers (shared 3-berth compartments with upper, middle & lower berths) and economy reclining seats, lounge and restaurant.  There's a shower at the end of each sleeping-car corridor.  On Sundays & summer (November-March) Thursdays from Brisbane, Tuesdays & summer (November-March) Saturdays from Cairns & Townsville, this train also has deluxe Queenslander class sleepers, restaurant and lounge.  Read this illustrated blog about travelling on the SunlanderIMPORTANT:  The Sunlander will be discontinued in December 2014, replaced by the Spirit of Queensland tilt train.

The SPIRIT OF QUEENSLAND is a new 100mph tilt train with Railbed Class flat-bed seats, Premium Economy Class seats and a lounge car.  Introduced in October 2013, this is a brand-new 100mph tilting train, see the photos below.  See www.queenslandrailtravel.com.au/RailServices/Documents/spirit-of-queensland/queensland-rail-travel_spirit-of-queensland-factsheet.pdf

BRISBANE-ROCKHAMPTON:  There are additional trains between Brisbane and Rockhampton, including a 100mph tilting daytime train.

BRISBANE-LONGREACH:  A train called the SPIRIT OF THE OUTBACK runs twice a week Brisbane - Rockhampton - Longreach, with 1st & economy sleepers, economy seats, and restaurant car.  1st class fares now include meals.  See www.queenslandrailtravel.com.au for details.

CAIRNS-FORSAYTH:  A little 1963-vintage stainless-steel railcar works the Savannahlander train from Cairns to Forsayth at 06:30 every Wednesday with an overnight hotel stop in Almaden, arriving in Forsayth on Thursday evening.  It returns from Forsayth at 08:30 on Fridays, also with an overnight hotel stop in Almaden, arriving Cairns 18:40 on Saturdays.  A 4-day outback rail experience!  It runs March until December, no service in late Dec, Jan or Feb or first few days of March.  See www.savannahlander.com.au for timetable, fares & booking.

 Fares

One-way fare per person:   

Sunlander

Spirit of Queensland

Queenslander

class sleeper:

First class

sleeper:

Economy

berth:

Economy

seat:

Railbed:

Premium

Economy:

 Brisbane - Townsville  

U-Save or B-Quick fare

-

AUS$344

AUS$233

AUS$156

AUS$332

AUS$236

A-Choice fare

AUS$748

AUS$406

AUS$275

AUS$209

AUS$442

AUS$315

 Brisbane - Cairns

U-Save or B-Quick fare

-

AUS$381

AUS$258

AUS$180

AUS$390

AUS$276

A-Choice fare

AUS$820

AUS$453

AUS$306

AUS$240

AUS$519

AUS$369

Children 15 years and under pay half the adult fare, children 3 years and under go free.

A-Choice fare = fully flexible, refundable.  U-Save fare = advance-purchase limited availability, no refunds.  B-Quick = another advance-purchase fare.

How to buy tickets...

The new Spirit of Queensland tilt train...

The train has two classes, Railbed class &  Premium Economy class.  All seats have power sockets and airline-style seat-back TV entertainment systems.  All passengers can use the lounge-cafe car, in Railbed class meals are served at your seat.

The new Spirit of Queensland tilt train   Flat bed seats on the Spirit of Queensland tilt train

The Spirit of Queensland Tilt Train from Brisbane to Cairns.  Courtesy of James Chuang

 

Railbed class:  The Spirit of Queensland features flat bed seats. Photo courtesy of James Chuang

Economy seats on the Spirit of Queensland tilt train   Lounge car on the Spirit of Queensland tilt train

Premium Economy class seats on the Spirit of Queensland.  Courtesy of James Chuang

 

The lounge car on the Spirit of Queensland tilt train. Photo courtesy of James Chuang

Lounge car on the Spirit of Queensland tilt train   Economy seats on the Spirit of Queensland tilt train

Above left, dinner served at your seat in Railbed class, included in the fare.  Right, at night the attendant converts the Railbeds to fully-made-up beds. Photos courtesy of James Chuang

 

The Sunlander...

Lounge car, Brisbane to Cairns on the Sunlander train   Restaurant car on the Brisbane-Cairns Sunlander train

Lounge & restaurant on the Sunlander, Brisbane to Townsville & Cairns. Courtesy James Chuang.

Read this blog about travelling on the Sunlander, with photos of first class and economy sleepers

The Spirit of the Outback...

Club car on Queensland Railways' Spirit of the Outback   Queensland Railways' Spirit of the Outback at Emerald

Club car & exterior of the Spirit of The Outback from Rockhampton to Longreach.  Although narrow gauge (3' 6") it's very comfortable!  1st class fares now include meals.  Courtesy of Peter Young.


Kalgoorlie - Perth

Transwa's Prospector...

Transwa (formerly known as Westrail) introduced new express diesel trains on the Perth to Kalgoorlie Prospector services in September 2003, running at up to 100mph.  Within a few years, track will be upgraded to 125mph (200km/h), making these trains the fastest in Australia.  For more info, visit www.transwa.wa.gov.au.

 Perth ► Kalgoorlie

       

 Kalgoorlie Perth

 The Prospector

Mon-Sat

Sun

Mons & Fris

 The Prospector

Mon-Sat

Sun

Mons

Fris

 Perth (East) depart

07:10

14:10

15:15

 Kalgoorlie depart

07:05

14:05

15:00

15:00

 Kalgoorlie arrive

14:00

21:50

22:05

 Perth (East) arrive

13:45

20:40

21:35

21:45

This route is also served by the Indian Pacific.  Transwa also run trains between Perth & Bunbury, see www.transwa.wa.gov.au.

Fares & how to buy tickets:  Perth-Kalgoorlie costs Aus$ 81.55 each way.  Children under 5 free, children 5 to 15 (inclusive) half fare.  You can book online at www.transwa.wa.gov.au.

Seats on the 'Prospector' train to Kalgoorlie   The 'Prospector' train between Perth and Kalgoorlie

Above:  The Perth to Kalgoorlie Prospector train, a really classy way to get from Perth to Kalgoorlie...

Photos courtesy of James Chuang



Guidebooks

Lonely Planet Australia - click to buy onlineRough Guide to AustraliaAustralia by Rail guidebookLonely Planet or Rough Guides...

A guidebook is a fraction of what you're spending on your whole trip.  With a decent guidebook you'll see so much more and know far more about what you're looking at.  For the serious independent traveller I recommend either the Lonely Planet or the Rough Guide.  I personally prefer the layout of the Lonely Planets, but others prefer the Rough Guides.  Both books provide a similarly excellent level of practical detail and useful background.  You won't regret buying one!

Buy at Amazon.co.uk (UK) or Amazon.com (US)...

Alternatively, you can download just the chapters you need in .PDF format from the Lonely Planet Website, from around £2.99 or US$4.95 a chapter.

Australia by Rail from Trailblazer Guides...

Colin Taylor's "Australia by Rail" is well worth buying if you plan to tour Australia by train.  Not only will it help you understand the routes, trains, and on-board accommodation, it has city information and best of all a mile-by-mile lineside guide of what to see from the train on the way.  Buy online at Amazon.co.uk


Hotels & accommodation in Australia

 

◄◄ Hotel search & price comparison.

www.hotelscombined.com checks all the main hotel booking sites at once to find the widest choice of hotels & the cheapest seller.  It was named as the World's Leading Hotel Comparison Site at the World Travel Awards 2013 and I highly recommend it, both to find hotels in even the smallest places and to check that another retailer isn't selling your hotel for less!

www.booking.com is my favourite booking site.  It's really clear and you can usually book with free cancellation and so confirm your accommodation at no risk months before train booking opens.

Tripadvisor hotel reviews...

www.tripadvisor.com is a good place to find independent travellers' reviews of the main hotels.  It also has the low-down on all the sights & attractions too.

Backpacker hostels in Australia...

www.hostelbookers.com:  If you're on a tight budget, don't forget about backpacker hostels.  Hostelbookers offers online booking of cheap private rooms or dorm beds in backpacker hostels in many places in Australia, at rock-bottom prices.


Flights to Australia

1)  Check prices at Singapore Airlines & Virgin Atlantic...

Overland travel around Australia by train is part of the experience, so don't cheat and fly, stay on the ground!  But a long-haul flight might be unavoidable to reach Australia in the first place.  Two airlines stand out:

2)  Check flight prices at www.opodo.com...

3)  Use Skyscanner to compare flight prices & routes worldwide across 600 airlines...

skyscanner generic 728x90

4)  Lounge passes...

Make the airport experience a little more bearable with a VIP lounge pass, it's not as expensive as you think!  See www.loungepass.com


Travel to Australia without flying

For information on how to travel from Europe to Australia without flying, either overland by Trans-Siberian Railway to the Far East then by freighter, or by sea all the way,

see the Australia overland page


Holidays by train in Australia

Great Rail JourneysUK companies such as Great Rail Journeys offer fully inclusive 5-star escorted tours around Australia, using the Indian Pacific, the Ghan & NSW TrainLink.  Check the holiday details online, then call 01904 527 120 to book or use their online booking form.  Seat61 gets some commission to help support the site if you book your holiday through this link and phone number.

Alternatively, companies such as Travelbag can arrange independent travel, with flights and trains as required.


Travel insurance & health card

 

 

Columbus direct travel insurance

Get travel insurance, it's essential...

Never travel overseas without travel insurance from a reliable insurer, with at least £1m or preferably £5m medical cover.  It should also cover cancellation and loss of cash (up to a limit) and belongings.  An annual multi-trip policy is usually cheaper than several single-trip policies even for just 2 or 3 trips a year (I have an annual policy myself).  Here are some suggested insurers.  Seat61 gets a small commission if you buy through these links.

In the UK, try Columbus Direct or use Confused.com to compare prices & policies from many different insurers.

If you have a pre-existing medical condition or are over 65 (no age limit), see www.JustTravelCover.com.

        If you're resident in Australia, New Zealand, Ireland or the EU, try Columbus Direct's other websites.

  If you're resident in the USA try Travel Guard USA.

Get a spare credit card, designed for foreign travel with no currency exchange loading & low or no ATM fees...

It costs nothing to take out an extra credit card.  If you keep it in a different part of your luggage so you're not left stranded if your wallet gets stolen, this is a form of extra travel insurance in itself.  In addition, some credit cards are significantly better for overseas travel than others.  Martin Lewis's www.moneysavingexpert.com/travel/cheap-travel-money explains which UK credit cards have the lowest currency exchange commission loadings when you buy something overseas, and the lowest cash withdrawal fees when you use an ATM abroad.  Taking this advice can save you quite a lot on each trip compared to using your normal high-street bank credit card!

You can avoid ATM charges and expensive exchange rates with a Caxton FX euro currency Visa Card, or their multi-currency 'Global Traveller' Visa Card, see www.caxtonfx.com for info.

Get an international SIM card to save on calls & mobile data...

Mobile phones can cost a fortune to use abroad, so consider getting a global pre-paid SIM card for your mobile phone which can cut call & data costs by up to 90%.  At the time of writing, www.roamsure.com claims a definite 25% saving within the EU and up to 90% saving in the rest of the world.  Incoming calls are free in 73 countries, including the USA, Australia, South Africa and EU.  There's no contract or commitment, and at time I write this Roamsure is offering a global SIM card for free when you buy £20 of call credit.  Seat61 gets some commission to support the site if you buy airtime from Roamsure.

 


Back to home page