The Indian Pacific joining two oceans by one train

I am a little bit biased about the Indian Pacific, a passengers train which crosses Australia from Sydney on the East Coast to Perth on the West Coast and vice versa, of course because I’ve done the trip and I loved it.

Named after the two great oceans it joins and symbolised by the magnificent wedge-tailed eagle that so often soars above it, the mighty Indian Pacific travels a 4,352km (2,698 miles) during each single journey.

The entire journey takes three days and three nights to complete and is indeed an epic rail journey.

Taking the Indian Pacific is neither the fastest way to cross the continent, nor is it the cheapest.  Air travel beats the train in both time taken and cost, but air travel comes nowhere near the Indian Pacific in terms of experience and sheer enjoyment. The great advantage that the Indian Pacific has over rail travel is in the adventure that you will have on board.

The first Indian Pacific left Sydney on 23 February, 1970 and now there are two departures from each of the terminal cities each week.

During its first few years of operation the train was operated by four different railways, but now it is run by Great Southern Rail, which also runs other prestige passenger services.

There are two types of services on the train: Gold and Red.

Gold has the better standard of the two classes, and does include either a single, twin or superior sleeper cabin. Included in the cost are all meals, which are served in the restaurant car (alcohol costs extra), use of the lounge car for entertainment and refreshments, a welcome reception, complimentary tea and coffee, and either music or detailed commentary in your cabin, should you be interested.

Red service is a lot less costly, but also a lot less private.  Red service includes the Day/Nighter seat which reclines to help you sleep.  There is a Red Service refreshment car, where you can purchase meals and refreshments, and shared toilet/shower facilities at the end of each Red Service carriage.  You can also opt for a Red Service Sleeper Cabin which are twin berth, have a wash basin, but you still use the shared toilet/showers.    

If you have a car, you can transport your car on the train also.

From the spectacular Blue Mountains, just west of Sydney, to the treeless plains of The Nullarbor (Nullabor is Latin for `no tees’), where the train travels the world’s longest straight stretch of railway track (478 kilometres), see unique landscapes unfold and spot a fascinating array of wildlife from the comfort of the lounge or your cabin.

Get up close and see the sights of some of our most famous outback towns when you enjoy an optional off-train sightseeing tour. The great train offers these tours during scheduled stops at Broken Hill in New South Wales, Adelaide in South Australia and gold rich Kalgoorlie in Western Australia. A remote outpost on the Nullarbor Plain called Cook presents a further opportunity to stretch your legs.

You would think that such a long journey would be boring, but I found it to be the opposite.  Travelling for hundreds of kilometres along a straight piece of track across a landscape that is completely devoid of trees is actually very interesting.  One of the great experiences of taking the train is that early in the morning and at around dusk you begin to see a lot of wildlife by the tracks.  Many of Australia’s iconic marsupials are nocturnal, and to see scores of kangaroos in the wild is quite awesome.  During the day you can see large, flightless emus, although they can be hard to pick out amongst the scrub.

Taking the Indian Pacific, from either direction, is one of the best ways to see Australia and to appreciate its immense size.  It is a journey that will, at times, have you transfixed as you watch this fascinating country pass by your window.

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