• Janice

Australian Outback Experience Aboard the Indian Pacific: Perth to Sydney by Train

Updated: Aug 8


▪️Train CO2 emissions


▪️Travel Lodge High Lights

▪️Rail Itinerary

▪️Rail High Lights

▪️Things to Think About

Why do we consider rail travel ecotourism?

Indian Pacific Train on the Nullarbor
The Indian Pacific Train (image courtesy of Southern Rail)

For those who are interested in CO2 emissions, trains emit a fraction of what planes emit. The BBC reports, that the average long haul economy flight emits 102 g by burning fuel and a further 93 g for the high altitude effect, per passenger per km travelled. Whereas, a domestic train emits 45 g per passenger per km travelled. A tenant of eco-travel is to travel sustainably. I think I am travelling more sustainably aboard a train. Another important reason, of course, is the opportunity to experience the country and contribute to local communities rather than just pass over.

With this goal in mind, we booked the great southern transcontinental rail journey, combining an outback experience with the romance of rail travel. Even more importantly, a break from the road 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. Also, as rail travel emissions are below air travel emissions reduced our carbon footprint.

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 aboard the Indian Pacific train. We chose to stay at the Travel Lodge (breakfast included) on Hay Street and a Gold Class cabin aboard 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-bikes 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

Down Town Perth Mapped showing Elizabeth Quay and Cycle Way
Elizabeth Quay, Discover Perth Cycle Trail

The central location of the Travel Lodge is 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 includes 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.

Down Town Perth from The Travel Lodge balcony
View from our balcony (Image by Derek)

Also, the lush outlook and quiet room is a standout features for me. 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 has a park-like feel.

Night view from The Travel Lodge balcony
Night view from our room (Image by Derek)

Indian Pacific from Perth to Sydney :

The Indian Pacific is named for the two oceans that are joined by this epic, 4,352km, transcontinental rail journey across Australia. The 3-night journey from the Indian Ocean, in the West to the Eastern shores of the Pacific Ocean, is filled with fantastic scenery and stories. A private Gold Class cabin provides daytime seating, bunk beds and an ensuite bathroom. A spacious Platinum cabin comes at a higher price but offers a double bed. Meals are served in the dining car and a lounge car is also available.

Day 1: We transferred from our hotel by coach and boarded the Indian Pacific at 10.30 am. Our day was enjoyed 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 to Rawlinna Station.

Day 2: We disembarked for sunrise at Rawlinna Station for a lovely outdoor breakfast. Later that day we visited the outback ghost town of Cook. Overnight on the rails to Adalaide.

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. Overnight to the Blue Mountains and Sydney.

Day 4: Disembark at the Blue Mountains after breakfast and meet up with our kids for the Scenic World experience.

Passenger train carriage - Indian Pacific
Janice beside the Indian Pacific carriage with Wedge Tailed eagle logo

Mining Truck
Mining Vehicle at the Gold Fields Museum
Old time outback camp site in Kalgoorlie
A pantomime of outback life in the early days of mining (image by Derek)
Rawlinna at dawn (Image by Derek)

Indian Pacific carrages and sunrise.
Sunrise over the desert at Rawlinna Station (image by Derek)

Rail Highlights:

Firstly, our cosy cabin with a lovely little en-suite set the scene for an intimate journey. The steward transforms the sofa seating into bunk beds at night. I love camping so great fun!

Also, the onboard commentary is informative and music and stories abound. For instance, you will hear updates to the timetable and information about the local natural history.

An absolute highlight is experiencing the Australian landscape. The vastness of the landscape, showcases stunning panoramas, whether out the window or taken in during an off-train excursion. The 487 km stretch of straight rail, across the Nullarbor Desert, is the world record holder for straight rail. I even managed to see a Wedged Tailed Eagle, the symbol of the Indian Pacific. Passengers also enjoy farmland, bush, mountains and a variety of towns.

Indian Pacific gold class cabin bunk configuation
Derek on his bunk

Aboard the meals are served in the dining car. Visiting the dining car is a highlight for sure! Make the most of the a la carte menu and the excellent quality beverage list included in the package. The food is fresh, local and delicious, Derek recommends the Australian red wines from the regions travelled through. Off the train, the foodie experience continues, with the tasting of local produce at The Central Adelaide markets.

The funicular at the Blue Mountains

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

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