Large distances between major cities make trains the poorer cousins to planes when it comes to getting around Australia. Despite this, Australia is still home to a couple of classic rail journeys that provide a brilliant way of seeing the country. The Ghan is one of Australia’s most romantic and iconic railways, snaking its way for over two days through the Red Centre from Adelaide to Darwin (or vice versa) via Alice, and takes its name from the 19th century Afghan camel trains that travelled through the outback. Australia’s other big one is the Indian Pacific, which travels between Sydney and Perth via Adelaide and includes the world’s longest straight stretch of track across the Nullarbor. Standard fares can be prohibitive, but there are massive savings to be made with backpacker cards, like the YHA one. Also, the excellent Rail Explorer Pass, available only to holders of foreign passports, provides six months of travel on both routes, as well as the Melbourne to Adelaide Overland train, for only $690. The Overland, which commenced service in 1887, came from the term for an adventurer who had travelled across the country, however today the Overland is a comfortable and convenient way to travel between these two southern cities. Visit for details. And the Sydney to Newcastle train, well let’s just say there’s nothing romantic about that one.

February 6th, 2012