Journeys on this Train
Australia’s transcontinental Indian Pacific offers a twice-weekly service in both directions between Perth and Sydney, via Adelaide, across more than 2,704 miles. Almost 300 miles of it is across the longest straight track in the world, the Nullarbor Plain. The journey takes three nights, and our travelers report it’s frequently a very jolly departure, with many Aussies traveling the route, especially around holiday periods. In 1849, Australia’s first railway lines were built—but on three different rail gauges. The beginnings of modern-day Indian Pacific can be traced to 1917, but the first unbroken journey of the new Indian Pacific departed Sydney Central Station on Feb. 20, 1970, arriving Perth five days later to a welcoming crowd of 10,000.
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In September 2008, the Ghan kicked off a new luxury service, limited to 24 Platinum class cabins. The same service is now being offered on select Indian Pacific departures (Wednesday departures from Sydney to Perth; Sunday departures from Perth to Sydney). Each Platinum class cabin is 82.5 square feet, including private, en-suite shower, sink and toilet, almost twice the size of the existing Gold Kangaroo service. The cabin is converted to lounge area by day, with a moveable table and two ottomans. At night, it converts to a double or twin beds; the interior is finished in Tasmanian Myrtle wood. Each compartment has full-size shower, vanity with storage space, mirror and oversized panoramic window.
Our most recent reviewer of the train, checking out the early Platinum cabins for our magazine, The International Railway Traveler, found it wonderful overall. "I am sorry to leave... and even sorrier to part from the staff’s excellent care," Phoenix Arrien said in her story. "...The service is one of the best aspects of Platinum class."
Gold Kangaroo service, which is set for two persons, is the next class of service. Most of our single travelers recommend booking sole use of a double. The reason: double cabins have private, ensuite sink, toilet and shower. Single compartments’ shower and toilet are down the hall. Smoking is not allowed on the train. (Note: Red Kangaroo class is also offered at a lower cost.)
Twin Cabins feature a three-seat sofa which converts to upper and lower sleeping berths at night. It includes private, ensuite toilet, sink and shower.
Single Cabins feature a lounge chair converting to single sleeping berth, with shower and toilet facilities located at the end of each carriage.
Dining is in the private restaurant for the first-class Gold Kangaroo and Platinum guests. All meals are included in the cost of the ticket; drinks are extra. IRT Society members last on this train felt that the dining service was rushed, with all courses served at once. Hopefully, this criticism has been addressed and service has improved. IRT members are heading on this train soon, and we will have an updated report then.
IRT Society passengers report that the lounge cars can be jammed. There just isn’t room for more than a fraction of the travelers to sit and enjoy a drink. Alcoholic drinks are not included.
If you want to go all out, book The Chairman’s Carriage, which accommodates up to eight people. It has two double bedrooms sharing a two-way bathroom and two twin-bedded cabins with adjacent bathroom facilities. There is a spacious lounge with CD player, DVD and video system; private dining room, fully equipped kitchen; dining in the Gold restaurant on the train at no extra cost; or, dine in your private car’s dining room with meals prepared by your own chef at extra cost. Pricing starts at about $7,000 AUD for Sydney to Adelaide.