The vastness of Australia, the planet’s sixth largest country, is awe-inspiring. Travel in Australia for hours, then refer to a map to see how far you’ve come and you may be surprised at how little ground you seem to have covered.
Train travel in Australia is becoming an increasingly attractive way of seeing the country. The railways offer a unique travel experience for visitors who can spare the time. It’s an opportunity to kick back, relax in comfort and soak up the breath-taking scenery.
1. The enormity and diversity of the landscape
Embark on an Australian road trip and you may find yourself exhausted, faced with the distances and glare from the sun. Avoid reaching your destination feeling like you’ve been run over and enjoy this extraordinary country of contrasts by boarding a train and marvelling at the diversity, ranging from mountains to red desert, rainforest to reef, coast to vibrant cities.
2. The journey: a destination in itself
Offering an enriching and relaxing travel experience, travelling by train is arguably the best way of discovering the Australian coast and outback. There are a host of different trains and routes, some, like the legendary Ghan, a three-day trip between Adelaide and Darwin named after the Afghan cameleers who once made the journey, reputed to be among the world’s most spectacular journeys.
Options range from fully planned itineraries arranged by companies such as tour operator Great Rail, to doing your own thing. You can always supplement train travel with additional modes of transport and can take advantage of the Austrail Flexipass. If you’re travelling solo, the train makes perfect sense.
Taking the train is a step in the right direction when it comes to reducing your carbon footprint. Trains use less fuel than planes, an important consideration for Australia with its climate change challenges.
5. Highlights not to be missed
Great Barrier Reef, Queensland
A marine park stretching over 1800 miles, this is the world’s largest collection of corals and is home to over 1500 types of tropical fish, over 200 species of bird, reptiles, rays and dolphins.
Ayer’s Rock/ Uluru
One of the world’s great natural wonders, Uluru is a vast monolith in the centre of Australia, sacred to the Aboriginal people. The sun has a remarkable effect on the colour of this unique landform.
Adelaide and Melbourne
Adelaide, Australia’s wine capital, has many regions within easy reach and is also culturally diverse. Melbourne prides itself on being a vibrant hub, with art, green spaces, and bars, cafés and restaurants.
Great Ocean Road
A beautiful route, encompassing rocky coastline, ancient rainforest and native wildlife.
Native to Australia, the 26,000 little penguins of Philip Island depart from their burrows an hour before sunrise daily, swimming all day, before returning at dusk.
With its temperate climate and iconic beaches, eclectic cityscape, lively cultural scene and laid-back vibe, Sydney is one of the most alluring cities of the world.
If you want to discover Australia, take the train – it’s hard to beat.