Updated: Apr 28
We planned an Aussie outback experience from the comfort of a passenger train.
Rail travel has a special place in my heart and one of my goals is to experience the romance of rail travel. With this goal in mind, we booked a great southern transcontinental rail journey to combine an outback experience with the romance of rail travel. Even more importantly, a break following our epic Western Australian road trip,
What's more, we were returning to New Zealand so we decided to swap some of the return air travel for rail travel. We saved some dollars on the airfares which helped offset the cost of the rail trip.
Discover Australia Package Deal
This trip required very little planning thanks to the package deal, which included 3 nights of accommodation in downtown Perth and 3 nights onboard the Indian Pacific train. We chose to stay at the Travel Lodge (breakfast included) on Hay Street and a Gold Class cabin onboard the Indian Pacific (transfers, meals and off-train excursions included).
Things we checked before beginning our stay:
The address of the hotel
Drop off point of the rental car to co-ordinate with hotel check-in
Luggage allowance on board the train
The option of disembarking early at the blue mountains
Down Town Perth
Day 1: Checked in to the Travel Lodge. We walked to a nice Turkish restaurant for our evening meal.
Day 2: Jet boat ride from Elizabeth Quay and hired e-biked and cycled the 'Discover Perth Cycle Trail' including lunch at a cafe right on the banks of the Swan River.
Day 3: Visited the Perth Mint then bussed and walked to a variety of shopping locations.
Travel Lodge Highlights
The central location of the Travel Lodge was a huge bonus. It's fantastic to be downtown in Perth. Located close to walking, cycling, shopping and nature. The bus stops outside the main door and included in the routes is a free loop. Needless to say, we didn't keep the rental car.
Elizabeth Quay is a five-minute walk that links the Travel Lodge's guests to a variety of tourist attractions. Including the ferry to Rottnest Island.
Also, the leafy outlook and quiet room is a stand out feature for me. In fact, the leafy quieter outlook is rare in an inner-city location. No sleeping problems here and I recommend the upgrade to a balcony room. Also, the view from the onsite restaurant actually has a park-like feel.
Perth to Sydney by Train:
The Indian Pacific is named for the two oceans that are joined by this epic transcontinental rail journey. We travelled from the Indian Ocean to the Pacific Ocean in 3 nights and enjoyed 4 days of entertainment including off-train excursions. Meals were taken in the dining car and we also enjoyed a lounge car.
Day 1: We transferred from our hotel by coach and boarded the Indian Pacific at 10.30 am, then enjoyed the day on the rails, disembarking at Kalgoorlie after dark for an off-train excursion. The excursion included a coach tour of Kalgoorlie and a pantomime presented by the Gold Fields Museum. Then overnight on the rails.
Day 2: We disembarked for sunrise at Rawlinna Station and a lovely outdoor breakfast. Later that day we visited the outback ghost town of Cook.
Day 3: For our off train experience at Adelaide, Derek visited the Adelaide Oval and I went to the Central Adelaide Markets. At Broken Hill, we experienced a drag show in The Palace Hotel.
Day 4: Disembark at the Blue Mountains after breakfast and meet up with our kids for the Scenic World experience.
Firstly, our cosy cabin with a lovely little en-suite really set the scene for an intimate journey. The steward transforms the sofa seating to bunk beds at night. I love camping so great fun!
Also, the onboard commentary kept us in the loop regarding time table, informed of the local natural history and the geological features out the window.
An absolute highlight, was the vastness of the landscape, showcasing stunning panoramas, whether out the window or taken in during off the train excursions. I even managed to see a Wedged Tailed Eagle, the symbol of the Indian Pacific.
Onboard the meals are served in the dining car. Visiting the dining car was a highlight for sure! We made the most of the a la carte menu and the good quality beverage list included in the package. The food was fresh, local and delicious and in the appropriate portion sizes. Derek particularly enjoyed the Australian red wines from the regions we travelled through. Off the train, the foodie experience continued, with the tasting of local produce at The Central Adelaide markets.
We disembarked at the blue mountains and met our kids and we all enjoyed the Blue Mountains off train excursion together. The staff were happy for them to join our tour and the kids just paid a standard entry. A real highlight to meet up with family.
Things to think about:
Majority of passengers 50 plus
Some of our off train excursions were cut short due to delays on the line.
Some of the excursions were after dark
Sleep was a little broken due to level crossings, towns and stations
Mission Achieved 8 /10