Nicki explores Outback Australia on the Indian Pacific.

Staff member: Nicki // Trip date: Nov 2016

We started our Journey at Perth East Train station. Check in process was really easy: we left our check in luggage at the desk and it was taken down the end of the train, not to be seen again until Sydney.

 

We were given our room number and boarded the train. In the room there is enough space for 2: a comfortable seat on one side of the room, a small table (which can be folded away) and wardrobe and vanity area. The bathroom is small, as you can imagine, but a great use of space. One thing which is different from other overnight trains I have been on is there is a magnet or a lock for each door so nothing rattles as the train moves. There was also the journey map which would tell us where we were at each time and a little history of the journey.

We had to be at the station by 9.30am but the train did not depart till 10am, which gave time for our host to come along and ask which off train excursion we would like to book. All the information about each off train excursion is supplied in the room as well as a large amount of general information. At this point we only book in the excursions organised by this crew, so Kalgoorlie and Adelaide in this case, while our Broken Hill excursion was organised after the staff had swapped.

 

As we took off from Perth I noticed how smooth the train runs. The first two hours we witnessed Suburban areas and then the Avon Valley area. Jos our restaurant manager came around and asked us to select our meal times for the next couple of days. He explained how the time changes work, this departure was the first thing they had trialled a new method of only changing the clocks once, on day two, forward two and a half hours to be on Adelaide time. Although confusing in the world of phones which change the time for you, this means no one is disadvantaged by an 8pm dinner time, which would quickly be 9.30pm.

 

At 12pm we had lunch in the Queen Adelaide Restaurant. Mid-afternoon was our first entertainment: a trivia session in the lounge car. After trivia there was a bit of time till dinner.

 

Lunch is served as a two course (main and dessert) while dinner has three courses. Three options for each course: two meat and one vegetarian. You never leave meals hungry! There is also a large variety of Australian wines and beers to select from, and spirits are also included. After lunch we had another drink in the lounge car which is next to the dining car. The train we were on had three lounge and three dining cars.

 

Around 9pm we arrived into Kalgoorlie, we got off the train onto buses for a quick tour around Kalgoorlie town guided by our bus driver. Afterwards we went up to the museum to have a quick look around at the huge trucks and diggers and there was also a show we were able to watch with gave us the history of the town performed by two locals.

 

Back onto the buses and up to the super pit look out point. I never realised how much gold was in Kalgoorlie or how big the super pit was until coming here. They bring up 1400 ounces daily of gold, or around 1.7mil worth.

The passengers were split into two separate buses so we did the opposite trip to the other bus. This ensures not everyone is at the same place at the same time. A lot of people chose to stay on the bus, which I assume would be due to the late tour time.

 

Back onto the train for quite a late night, we got back around midnight. Early Monday morning we woke up around 5.30am for 6am breakfast off the train in Rawlinna, a huge sheep station. We sat on wooden benches next to the train and enjoyed quiches, sausages and field mushrooms. This stop gave us a bit of time to get some fresh air and stretch the legs and also see how many people are actually on board the train. There is not much cross over between the three different dining and lounge cars so this is the first time you see everyone in one place.

 

Most of the day was travelling through the Nullarbor; it was amazing to see just how flat and vacant the land is. Apart from a couple of wedge tailed eagles and a single kangaroo it was mostly wide open space that we looked at for the next couple of hours. The train made two stops, both to drop off supplies and mail. One of those was to the small town which services the emergency landing airfield for any planes that get into trouble between Perth and Adelaide.

 

Around 1pm, after lunch, we stopped off at Cook and did the self-guided tour of cook. We had information in our rooms, but with only 10 different spots it was hard to get lost, there isn't much in Cook. This was also the only opportunity we got to get a photo of the front of the train. 


After we got back on the train we went from train time to real time and the clocks jumped forwards two and a half hours which meant it was almost dinner time.

 

Tuesday morning we arrived into Adelaide, the options were a city sights tour, the walking tour of the north of Adelaide, around the sports and entertainment area, or a market tour with progressive breakfast. We got off the train around 7.30, there was an optional breakfast at 6.30am but that was mostly for those people getting off the Adelaide. We chose to do the market tour, which was really informative and offered lots of great samples. The tour started in the market kitchen where we had fruit salad, quiche and coffee or tea. The guide also gave us a bit of free time if we needed to go to the ATM, pharmacy or to grab anything else in the area. Back onto the train around 10am and off towards Sydney.

 

The train had a change of staff so our new host and restaurant manager came around and got us to book in our tour in Broken Hill and also our meal times.

 

As we left Adelaide the train left the same way it had come into the station, changing the direction of the service. Until now we had been backward facing, but now facing forwards. An important detail as I know clients often ask if they can have forward facing rooms. 


From Adelaide we had a lot more commentary on the in room radio, there are 6 stations to choose from and two of those supply commentary. Travelling through a similar sort of area we had just come from meant we didn't miss anything during the night. That afternoon we arrived in Broken Hill for our afternoon excursion. We chose to do the "Main Drag" which was a drag queen show. It was performed in the same place a lot of the scenes from Priscilla Queen of the desert were filmed. We took a bus to the venue via a little city tour but we decided to walk back to the train as we realised we were actually only a block away. A lot of people still chose to take the bus the single block. 


We got back onto the train around 8pm and went straight to dinner. The staff always converted the rooms from seats to beds while you are at dinner and back while you are at breakfast. 


Day 4 we woke up on the border of the Blue Mountains. Breakfast was not booked in this morning, more of a come-as-you-feel scenario. We didn't have any issues getting a seat around 8.30am. This portion of the train journey was the rockiest. The staff told me it was due to the section from Broken Hill to Sydney being mostly wooden sleepers whereas the rest of the journey used concrete sleepers. Showering was a little difficult as a result of the rocking. Our train was due to arrive into Sydney station at around 11am but we had been delayed an hour overnight. At this point I was glad I booked the 2.30pm flight home and not the 1pm flight.

 

I really enjoyed travelling through the Blue Mountains and seeing all the old towns. You are not able to see the big sights like the waterfalls or Three Sisters from the train but there is still plenty to see. Once we got close to Sydney we stopped at Redfern station while they split the train in two. The first half of the train was pulled into platform 2 and the second half of the train platform 3. When we got off the train our luggage was there waiting for us to collect it. The disembarking process was very easy. 

 

Overall I really enjoyed my experience on the Indian Pacific. I was out of reception for around 90% of the trip so I was nice to relax and not even have the opportunity to be on my phone but a little stressful at times to be so disconnected. At the end of each carriage there are tea and coffee facilities and the lounge car is always open for drinks and snacks. I was quite lucky with the weather; we had a consistent temperature of around 25 degrees, although three days later each of the places we went was mid to high 30s, so the weather can really get quite hot. I would recommend covering up and using mosquito repellent every time guests get off the train. Diseases such as Ross River, Bama forest and other mosquito-borne diseases can be found in the areas travelled through. Also make sure you pack light, there is enough space to fit a small suitcase under the bed, but not much else as the under bed space is taken by the ladder for the bunk bed.

 

My trip on the Indian Pacific was really a fantastic and comfortable way to see the middle of Australia. 

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