We each had one item on the RTW trip from our wish list. Mark wanted to trek with the gorillas – check! Susan’s wish list item was a bit tamer – ride the Indian Pacific train across all of Australia. We took it from Perth to Sydney – from the Indian Ocean to the Pacific Ocean for 4352 km or 2704 miles. This trip takes about 4 days and we had the fun of sleeping on the train for 3 nights.
When Dave Young from Fort Collins heard about the train, he invited himself along since he’s a HUGE train buff and this one is on his bucket list.
The Indian Pacific left at 10 AM Sunday morning from Perth and climbed out of the suburbs into the hills. The ticket prices include food, unlimited drinks including wine, champagne, beer, gin and tonic, coffee, soft drinks and tours at each stop.
The tour part is important because our first stop along the way was at 10 PM Sunday night in Kalgoorlie, Western Australia. The tour took 2 hours on the bus and showed us where the houses of prostitution were and where the huge gold mine is. It’s a pit mine, about 1.5 kilometers deep and is worked 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We want to come back in the daytime for a real mine tour.
Then it was back on the train for our first night of sleep in the little bunks. Mark got the top one! Sleep was OK although at 3 AM, the tracks got a little rough! Mark’s bunk had a rail he could put up just in case he might want to roll out.
Day started with breakfast in Rawhinna about 6 AM outside on tables. Rawhinna is on the edge of the Nullarbor Plain and is the start of 478 kilometres (297 miles) of perfectly straight rail – the longest in the world . On Day 2 we stopped at Cook for a resupply of water for the train. Cook is pretty much a ghost town after the Australian government privatized the rail. The only things there are an airstrip for emergency commercial flight landings in the middle of the country (Never used), fuel and water for trains, and overnight accommodations for freight and passenger train crews.
Day 3 started with Adelaide at 7:30, Mark took the tour of the Adelaide Oval – cricket and Aussie Rules and Rugby – while Susan took a bus tour of the city. Dave left us here for 5 days in Adelaide before he flew home.
The train stopped in Broken Hill in the afternoon. We saw the Main Drag show in the hotel that was used in “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert”.
On Day 4, the train wandered its way through the Blue Mountains and suburbs of Sydney before arriving about noon at Sydney Central Station.
In between stops, we used our cabin for reading or naps or we wandered up to the Lounge Car and had a glass (or 2 or 3) of wine while we talked with other passengers. We met Gayle and Mark from Sydney and even got invited to their house for dinner. Another US couple we met, and there were not many of us, were from California and they’d been on a diving trip for about 2 months. We had drinks with them in Sydney.
Overall, the trip was fun. There are miles and kilometers of nothing in the middle of Australia. This trip drives home the point that Australia is about the size of the US but only has about 30 million people! Lots of it are pretty uninhabitable in the middle of the desert.
The next train trip to do in Australia is the Ghan that goes from Darwin south through Alice Springs into Adelaide. This train has been completely updated and we heard is quite posh.