A train journey that connects two oceans

The Indian Pacific train between Perth and Sydney is a ride to remember

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By Sandip Hor

Published: Thu 9 Jun 2022, 5:30 PM

“I don’t mind living in this remote place,” says Nicole one of the three residents of Rawlinna — an isolated town dotted on the Nullarbor Plain in Western Australia. She always has a few interesting stories to tell about her living experience in the middle of nowhere and the opportunity to hear some of them strikes only when travelling on the legendary Indian Pacific train between Perth and Sydney. Located nearly 900km east of Perth, the gateway city for entering Australia from the west, Rawlinna is one of the few stops where guests onboard are provided with some off-train encounters. When the train arrives, Nicola with her horse drops in to say hello to the travellers.

With the easing of the Covid-19 related restrictions, Indian Pacific has recently recommenced with renewed enthusiasm its bi-directional journeys, which began over a century ago. Measuring over 700m in length, Indian Pacific with 29 silver carriages is one of the longest trains in the world. While covering a distance of 4352kn in four days, this transcontinental expedition connects the Indian Ocean in the west to the Pacific in the east, passing through three Aussie states Western Australia, South Australia and New South Wales, touches their respective capital cities, Perth, Adelaide and Sydney.

Besides matching with other world-famous trains like the Orient Express and the Blue Train in terms of service levels, comfort and luxury, travelling on Indian Pacific provide the rare opportunity to appreciate the vast east-west spread of the continent blessed with different geographical terrains from scorched red-coloured desert lands and goldfields to rocky valleys and lush mountains. Indulgence on rail and romance with the mysterious Aussie outback through the window of a running train makes this voyage a top-ranked bucket list item for almost every Australian and train aficionados from around the world.

Class and elegance are two elements that are synonymous with the Indian Pacific. Their expressions are evident in every facet of the journey. All passengers travel in style with the choice of the Platinum or Gold Service, both of which offer an all-inclusive package comprising on-train accommodation, premium lounge facilities, all meals, and beverages both alcoholic and non-alcoholic.

Gold Class provides a comfortable sleeper cabin with upper and lower berths that convert to a three-seater lounge by day. For the discerning traveller, Platinum Service cabin is configured during the day as a private lounge with deluxe seating, while at night converted into a comfortable bedroom with either double or twin beds.

In addition to the comfort of the beautifully appointed cabins, a key lure of the trip is the sumptuous cuisine, fine wines, and camaraderie served by friendly and well-mannered waiters and waitresses in the art-deco styled restaurant carriages that salute the golden era of rail travel. The kitchen services behind the scene are possibly no less precise than any military type operation as chefs meticulously prepare hundreds of beautifully garnished meals for guests waiting at the dining tables, each adorned with starched white linen and upmarket crockery and cutlery.

Amazing landscapes, which change as the train passes from one region to the other, greet eyes the moment the window curtain is removed. Watching the sun rising in the morning and then plunging into a west at the end of the day becomes a highlight of the voyage as the poignant colours of the horizon outside, from golden yellow and crimson red to light purple and grey, become a feast for the eyes. Sometimes outback wildlife can be spotted outside as well, from running kangaroos, resting emus and ferocious dingoes to Arabian camels. These camels were imported from Afghanistan in the early 19th century for carrying goods, but now off duty, they have blended into the blur of the desert sky. The visual experience of engaging with the incredible diversity of the Great Southern Land is enhanced by off-train adventures that are tailored to complement the train timetable. While travelling from Perth to Sydney, the journey halts at historic settlements of Kalgoorlie — a gold-rush town, Rawlinna and Cook — the two tiny settlements on the 487km long Nullarbor Plains that boast of the longest stretch of the railway track in the world, South Australian capital Adelaide, mining town Broken Hill where Aussie giant BHP was born and Mount Victoria at the edge of the scenic Blue Mountains region. A variety of excursions at these stops provides everyone with a unique appreciation of the remoteness and rich history of outback Australia that can’t be achieved easily by any other means.

While disembarking at the end station, all guests agree to describe the voyage not just as another travel between two destinations, but to be part of history of a geographically diverse and expansive nation. They feel lucky enough to see the soul of almost an entire nation through the window of a running train.


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