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Discover Australia’s two longest passenger train routes

By Kirsty T.
February 9, 2017

Travelling by train is a fantastic way to explore Australia. The country boasts a number of very efficient train services that help visitors cover huge distances Australia is known for in next to no time, and this is a very comfortable and stylish way to see the most remote parts of the outback.

Two of the longest and most interesting train journeys that are just waiting to be enjoyed in Australia are aboard the Indian Pacific – which cuts across the country from Perth in the far west to Sydney in the east – and a train called The Ghan which goes south to north between Adelaide and Darwin via “the red centre” town of Alice Springs.

The Indian Pacific – Perth-Sydney-Perth, weekly

The long and exciting railway route of the Indian Pacific runs from the Indian Ocean in the far west of Australia to the Pacific Ocean in the east. Passengers can hop on in the city of Perth, using the railway line to travel all the way to the city of Sydney.

The Indian Pacific stopping at Broken Hill Station in New South Wales. Photo by Simon Yeo, used under Creative Commons.

The Indian Pacific stopping at Broken Hill Station in New South Wales. Photo by Simon Yeo, used under Creative Commons.

This epic train journey covers 4,352 kilometres (2,704 miles) – including the longest stretch of perfectly straight train track in the world – and can be completed in around 65 hours each way. The journey takes passengers along the edge of the Pacific Ocean and there will be plenty of opportunities to soak up sights of Australia’s stunning beaches along the way.

The most luxurious option for those who are travelling from Adelaide to Darwin is to book the platinum service, which costs AU$4,359 (£2,661) per person in the high season and AU$3,919 (£2,392) in the low season and include luxurious cabin accommodation, while gold service single cabins are available for as little as AU$2,269 (£1,385) per person in the low season. Fine dining, wines and beers and a whole host of luxurious extras are included in the fare, meaning that passengers simply need to unwind and let staff take care of their every need.

There are lots of enchanting sights and unique experiences that are waiting to be enjoyed by passengers on the Indian Pacific. A number of off-train excursions are included in the fare for gold and platinum passengers and offer you the chance to pause to explore the Outback and enjoy a roast lamb dinner while gazing at the Nullarbor skies as the sun slowly sinks behind the horizon.

There will also be plenty of time to explore the city of Adelaide with an experienced tour guide and some of the highlights here include St. Peter’s Cathedral the bustling Central Market and the Adelaide Oval.

The Ghan – Adelaide-Darwin-Adelaide, weekly

The epic train journey of The Ghan runs from south to north and takes passengers all the way from the city of Adelaide to Darwin in the Northern Territory, covering 2,979 kilometres (1,851 miles). It runs roughly once a week, while the journey takes 54 hours to complete.

The Ghan train to Darwin departs Alice Springs

The Ghan passenger train to Darwin departs Alice Springs with the spectacular MacDonnell Ranges in the background. The Ghans symbol is a camel and its handler, in recognition of the pioneering Afghan cameleers who opened up the outback of Australia in the mid-19th century.

The Ghan takes passengers through the Australian outback in the heart of the country and provides plenty of opportunities to sit and gaze at the classic Australian red rocks and earth as you spot kangaroos hopping through the wilderness.

Depending on the time of year you travel, The Ghan will either make mid-route stops at Alice Springs or both Alice Springs and Coober Pedy. The stops in Alice Springs and Coober Pedy are for most of the day, so you will have plenty of time to explore the towns and the surrounding wilderness with numerous off-train excursions to choose from.

Lovers of fine dining will be in their element on the Ghan, as the train boasts several dining cars where passengers can enjoy tasty treats such as Australian lamb, shepherd’s pie and kangaroo and emu steaks served with all the trimmings. People who want to travel in pure luxury can opt for the platinum service from Adelaide to Darwin, which costs AU$3,699 (£2,257) per person in the high season and AU$3,319 (£2,026) in the low season and include luxurious cabin accommodation, while gold service single cabins are available for as little as AU$1,999 (£1,220) per person in the low season.

While countries such as India and Canada offer even longer train routes than either the Ghan or the Indian Pacific, you will be hard-pressed to find a travelling opportunity that combines the comforts of these spectacular trains and the remote wilderness of the Australian Outback.

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