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World's Top 25 Trains

Train: Sunlander

Train Type: First-Class


The Sunlander's Queenslander class offers cozy, private cabins; beds make into seating by day.



Journeys on this Train

Sunlander Cairns to Brisbane


What better way to sample some of the iconic Australian pleasures: The Great Barrier Reef, the Kuranda Scenic Railway, the islands such as Fraser and the Whitsundays, and the rainforest? The Sunlander train links them all, with its overnight service crossing 1,045 miles on the east coast of Queensland, Australia, from Brisbane to Cairns. The scenery is spectacular. The possible stopovers are, too. If you take the train straight through, it takes 32 hours. In 2012,  Queensland Rail Travel upped its game to three weekly departures in each direction, and the "Queenslander class" is offered on each departure.

Latest News: Click here for our Track 25 blog on the Sunlander.

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On This & Other Trains


IRT members recommend Queenslander Class for the most luxurious on this route in sleeping and dining facilities. The accommodations in this class are private cabins with twin berths; singles pay for sole use of a double. All have washbasin, wardrobe, full-length mirror and reading lights. Shower and toilets are down the hall. Our most recent Pullman Club member who traveled on this train in the summer of 2010 liked this service much better than Gold Kangaroo class on either of the other Australian “name” trains: the Ghan or Indian Pacific. He especially noted the great service and all the little extras such a a welcome party in the lounge and high tea in the afternoon. He did not travel in Platinum class on the Ghan or IP, the luxury service on those trains.


This is an all-inclusive package that includes fine dining in an exclusive restaurant car with china, silver and linens. Service is of a high level, with meals served in courses, and the overall dining experience is enjoyable. Passengers dine on sumptuous hot breakfasts and meals featuring fresh local produce and Great Barrier Reef seafood—stunning plates of shrimp, for example.

Lounge Cars

Mixed drinks and wine are served in the club car.


Guests can choose from an extensive Australian wine list in the dining car for additional cost. If you have special dietary requirements, be sure to order at least four days ahead. You can choose from a long list of offerings, depending on your needs. Neither alcohol nor traditional gratuities to the train staff are included.

Many IRT travelers have sampled this train, and the agreement is nigh unanimous: It is relaxed, enjoyable with a high level of food, dining and service and very much deserves to  be on our World's Top 25 Trains list. It has also been named the No. 1 train in Australia.

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