The Ghan and Indian Pacific Staff Trip

Staff member: Jody, Bhavna, Maree and Paul // Trip date: Dec 2010

The Ghan and Indian Pacific Staff Trip
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Departure

You will need to arrive at the train station and check in your baggage at least 1 hour prior to your scheduled departure.

Passengers are allowed to check-in their luggage once the train staff has checked all motor rail cars & trailers. Train staff will clearly mark your baggage with the departure point and destination. Once your baggage has been marked you can proceed to locate your class carriage, where you will queue for boarding.

Approximately 10 minutes before the train departs you will be greeted at the door of the carriage by an attendant who will assist you to locate your cabin. Once you are seated within your cabin, an attendant will show you the train's facilities and if you are in gold service they will schedule your meals.

During the beginning of your journey you will receive a "Guests Welcome", which is accompanied by a glass of champagne and some information about the train's history and layout.

Indian-Pacific: Life on Board

We were catching the Indian-Pacific from Sydney to Perth, an adventure of 3 days and 3 nights, 4352 kilometres and approximately 65 hours. We were departing Sydney Central Station at 1455 so we arrived about 1 hour prior and checked our main luggage in at the Luggage Desk and kept just a small overnight bag each for on-board the train. The guys behind the Luggage Desk were super nice and promised our luggage would be ready and waiting for us when we disembarked in Perth. The train departed from Platform 1 and at the start of the platform was a check-in booth where our tickets were checked and we were pointed in the right direction to our cabin.

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We found our carriage, met our cabin attendant and settled into our cabin. Our cabin was set up into day configuration with a 3 seater lounge. We spent some time investigating everything in our cabin, opening and shutting every door and figuring out how everything worked. It was roomier than we expected and we were definitely glad we didn't bring our entire luggage on-board, otherwise we would have spent our journey tripping over each other and our belongings. After a while there was an announcement over the loud speaking announcing our departure and we were off. Our Cabin attendant came round shortly after departure to introduce herself properly and give us a rundown on how the trip was going to operate. She took our preference for coffee or tea for our wake-up call that would be delivered each morning. Then we got to choose our dining preference for the trip with a choice of two sittings - Red or Blue. We choose the Blue sitting as the meals were later and we didn't relish the thought of waking up too early. We were informed there would be a Welcome Reception for Blue Card guests in the Lounge Car at 1800.

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We decided to spend a little time exploring the train and went for a wander along to Red service to see the difference as we were in Gold service. We located the Red Service Dinner, found ourselves a table and settled in with a beverage and watched the scenery go by as we left Sydney. We became a little engrossed in the scenery, or perhaps our beverages, and actually missed the Welcome Reception but we felt welcomed regardless. We made our way back to the Gold end of the train to make sure we wouldn't miss dinner and we were totally rewarded. The meal was fantastic - 3 courses with a choice of 2 different entrees, 4 different mains and 2 desserts and full table service. If this was going to be the standard of the food for the whole 3 days then we were excited! After a scrumptious dinner, we moved onto the Lounge and chatted with fellow guests while we let our dinner digest. Once we returned to our Cabin, our Cabin had been converted and our beds made up for the night. I claimed the bottom bunk and was out like a light.

The next morning we were woken at 0600 with our tea and coffee and advised there was a light breakfast of Danish's and Scones in the restaurant as full breakfast wouldn't be served till after the tours of Broken Hill. We had decided to forgo a whistle stop tour of Broken Hill and opted for a sleep-in instead. We arose a little later and got off the train to have a wander around, met the locals at the station and get some photos of the train. Once everyone returned from their tours, we re-boarded and a full cooked breakfast was served not long after, another excellent meal. The staff inquired how we slept and was pleasantly surprised when we said we slept great.

We returned to our cabin and decided to tackle the shower. I was a little daunted at the prospect of showering in the small room with the train rocking but all went well. The water pressure was great and the water hot.

That conquered, we passed the remainder of the morning away reading and watching the scenery till our call for lunch. Lunch - seriously another fantastic meal. After lunch, we had to book in any Whistle stop tours we had planned for Adelaide and settle our bar tabs as there would be a complete change of crew in Adelaide. We decided to do a tour to the Adelaide Zoo with one thought on our minds - to meet Wang Wang and Funi, the Giant Pandas. We left the train and were greeted by a driver who took us to the Zoo by bus, organised our entry, pointed us in the direction of the Pandas and told us what time to be back at the bus. We arrived back at Adelaide station with about half hour till boarding. As the crew changed in Adelaide and the train was cleaned and restocked, everyone had to disembark and wait to reboard. We were introduced to our new crew for the Adelaide to Perth journey and reboarded the train. This time we made it to the Welcome Reception for all new guests who had boarded in Adelaide. We weren't new but wanted to see what it was about. There were nibbles and drinks provided and a general overview of the next few days and the tours that people could choose to go on in Kalgoorlie and Perth. After the welcome reception and sometime in the lounge it was time for Dinner. The meals continued to be of an excellent standard.

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The next day was our fullest on the train with only a short stop of the morning before reaching Kalgoorlie that evening. Due to some engine difficulties overnight when we awoke we were running 2 and ½ hours behind and had a new engine but the train staff ensured us they were doing all possible to catch us up. This meant we only had ½ hour at Cook instead of an hour. Cook was an odd little town with a population of 4 people. We were left to conduct our own self-guided tour till the Town's Fire siren sounded and was time to reboard. Half an hour was long enough in our world, eerie place. We boarded, took off and before we knew it, time to eat again, yes still can't fault the meals. We settled in after lunch to relax and watch the Nullarbor drift by. We had become fixated in a search for Camels and spent the afternoon scanning the horizon for the elusive animal but alas no joy. That evening was an earlier dinner before arriving in Kalgoorlie for a 3 ½ hour stop. There were options for another Whistle stop tour but we went for the option of a self-town tour and an inspection of the Kalgoorlie night scene. We reboarded the train approximately 2230 and settled in for our last night aboard the train before our arrival into Perth the next morning.

The Ghan: Restaurant and Food in Gold Service

My trip started in Darwin in the morning at about 10am. Once we got all settled into our cabins, the hospitality manager came to us to ask if we would like early or late seating for all our meals as they have two different meal seating's for all their meals. You get a red card for all early meal seating and a blue card for late meal seating. We choose late seating for all our meals. After that we could either stay in our cabins or head down to the Outback Explorer Lounge area which is the lounge area for Gold Service only. In the lounge there are nice comfortable seats and a bar area from where you can purchase any drinks. Passengers can also book any off the train tours and purchase any souvenirs as well. It is also a great opportunity to get to know other fellow travellers on board and share interesting travel stories. As we got on at 10 in the morning we didn't have any breakfast on board thus the next meal was a light lunch. They made an announcement on the speaker for meals and also came and announced in the lounge area that the early lunch seating is ready for the all those holding a red card. The early meal seating was at 1130 and the late one was at 1215.

While waiting for their late meal seating, the other guests enjoyed the nice scenery outside and enjoyed their drinks. Once the late seating was announced we made our way to the dining car called Queen Adelaide restaurant. Seating in the dining car is like a booth style and four people can fit into one both. It a good way to mingle with other guests especially if you travelling alone. Crackers, pita bread and 2 dips (Pesto and Taztziki) were on each table for starters. Alcoholic drinks are served but paid for on the spot. For lunch it was a two course meal with Greek Salad to share. There was a vegetarian option of Mushroom Pie or Chicken with Rice for mains and a chocolate tart for dessert. The Staff come and take your orders drinks and meals and then nice hot food is served to each table.
After the meal we headed back to our cabin to relax for a while before the train stopped in Katherine for 5 hours. We got off the train and explored Katherine town and then headed back to the train. As it was a really hot day everyone changed for dinner and looked all refreshed. While waiting for a late seating dinner, we were given a free glass of champagne and a welcome reception by the hospitality manager and she also talked a bit about the train. The early dinner seating was at 6.30pm and the later seating was at 8.30pm. Dinner was a three course meal. There was option of Lentil soup and grilled Baguette topped with salad of Prawns. For main course there were four different options to choose from and also two dessert options as well. The four different options was either chicken, salmon, beef or vegetarian option. I had the vegetarian option which was grilled Haloumi cheese roasted vegetables in Balsamic. For dessert the option was either cheese platter or lime and passion fruit cheesecake. I had the cheesecake which was really nice. We all were also offered complimentary chocolate and tea or coffee after dinner. All the food served on board is freshly cooked on the train in their galley style kitchen by their on board chefs. After the delicious dinner we headed back to our cabins to get some sleep.

Next morning for breakfast the early seating was 6.30am and the later seating was 8.00am. We got ready and waited for the late breakfast announcement in our cabin and once the announcement was made we made our way to the dining car. For breakfast it was again two courses. You can choose from an option of selection of cereals or fruit bowl to start with and then have a hot breakfast where we had a choice of Great Australian Breakfast which consisted eggs done to choice (Poached, Fried or Scrambled), sausages, bacon and grilled tomatoes and mushroom or a vegetarian option of grilled banana bread in maple syrup with dried grapes and there is toasts to share. They also have little condiments jars on the table as well such as jams, honey, vegemite and also butter for toasts. There was also option for juices (orange, apple or pineapple) or tea or coffee. After the very filling breakfast we headed back to our cabins and packed our overnight backs as we were getting off in Alice Springs.

The Ghan and Indian Pacific: Gold Class Sleeper

After checking in, you are met at the door by your carriage host, who points you to your room and, once everyone is on board, runs through the cabin amenities. They also show you how to use the unique bathroom facilities, and where the self service cold water/tea/coffee facilities are in the carriage. In room you have a radio, reading light, and a small fold away table. There are also power sockets available for charging cameras, laptops, and a specific one for electric shavers. There are small clothes lockers to hang clothes, a large window to watch the world go by, and a large mirror on the inside of the lockers. I found the cabin extremely comfortable as there is plenty of both leg room and space to stretch out. The temperature is kept a pleasant 22 degrees during the day.

The Bathroom includes a foldaway toilet and basin, and a remarkably good shower. The water pressure on board was better than some European hotels, and soft white towels are provided leaving you dry and refreshed. Bath mats and face towels are also provided, with the bathmats coming in handy to keep the cabin and the bathroom clean and dry. A toiletries bag (including soap, shower gel, shampoo and conditioner) can be found in front of a decent sized mirror, and there are drinking glasses in small holders keeping them secure. Remarkably, the cold water tanks for the bathroom reached 55 degrees during the crossing of the Nullarbor, making the hot water redundant.

More bathroom and shower facilities are available at the end of the carriage if this is preferable. Gold Sleepers include the use of these communal bathroom facilities, tea/coffee facilities, and Outback Explorer Lounge at no additional cost.

During the evening meal, the bench seat is converted into a lower bed, and an additional bed folds down to form a top bunk. The beds are firm but comfortable, and the size is impressive for a train - much larger than even the Gran Class on the European Elipsos night trains. Overall, the accommodation is incredibly impressive.

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Arrival

Approximately 10 minutes before arriving into your destination you will be notified by an announcement. At this point you should proceed to collect all your valuables and finalise your carry-on baggage so that you are ready to disembark.

Shortly after you disembark your luggage will arrive on a mobile conveyor. Be sure to collect all of your baggage and then you are free to continue on your journey.

Conclusion

All in all we had a great time on the train. We were a little wary that perhaps 65 hours in our compartment might be the death of us but we were pleasantly surprised. The trip flew by with enough stops to break up the journey, plenty to see and more importantly plenty to eat. The scenery was constantly changing from the Blue Mountains to Outback NSW to lush Adelaide to the barren Nullarbor to our arrival into Perth. Our train staff were fantastic and willing to help in any way possible and despite previous reports the beds were super comfy and we slept great. Now if only we had seen a camel - perfect trip.

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