Australia Rail Extravaganza: Luxury Down Under

17-day Independent Tour


The Tour

Our exclusive ‘Australia Rail Extravaganza: Luxury Down Under’ itinerary allows you to experience the joys of two cross-continent World’s Top 25 Trains — the famous Ghan, and the Indian Pacific. The great Platinum service on board the trains allows you plenty of time to be pampered — but also lots of time exploring off the train on included sightseeing excursions. The trains have added fantastic off-train experiences. Experience Sydney, Perth, Darwin and fantastic sites in between including rain forests, deserts and outback mining towns. This program abounds in UNESCO World Heritage sites, from Kakadu National Park to Uluru (Ayers Rock) and Kata Tjuta (the Olgas).  All of our Society of International Railway Travelers guests who have taken this independent journey loved it. Now it’s your turn to try the Australia Rail Extravaganza. We can still remember what it felt like to wake up in the middle of the desert on the Ghan, with the fine orange glow of the sand, coffee in hand, as the world passed us by.

 “Thank you for encouraging us to go Platinum, because it made all the difference in the world. I loved it. It reminded me a lot of the Rovos Rail and the Orient Express, but the wood was oak. It was very nice. Their service was impeccable. They went out of their way to please you. It was really a nice trip. I’m really glad we could do it.” — C & R Gambrel

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“As we shudder to a halt in Adelaide, I am sorry to leave the Ghan and even sorrier to part from the staff’s excellent care. The service is one of the best aspects of Platinum class…the cheerfulness is genuine.”

— Phoenix Arrien, The Society of International Railway Travelers®

The Itinerary

Day 1: Sydney
Arrive Sydney. Private transfer included to your hotel. Explore the city at your leisure today as you get your bearings. Soak up Sydney’s gorgeous harbor and natural beauty. Grace Hotel (or similar).

Day 2: Sydney
After your included breakfast, explore the famous bridge, the Opera house, its great transit, or a harbor cruise.

Day 3:  Indian Pacific
Included transfer from your hotel to the train terminal. Board the Indian Pacific at Sydney Central Station this afternoon. Relax in your cabin or mingle in the Outback Explorer Lounge as you leave Sydney behind. Enjoy dinner on board as you head toward the far West toward Perth. Dinner served on board in the classic Queen Adelaide Restaurant.

Day 4: Indian Pacific
The train travels north, pausing in Broken Hill for an early off-train experience. Visit the Pro Hart Gallery and learn about one of Australia’s most iconic artists. Step back on board for breakfast, and watch the scenery change from the outback to the green and gold of South Australia. Upon arrival in Adelaide, enjoy a leisurely walking tour and a gourmet dinner in the National Wine Center. After dinner, return to the train. Meals and overnight on the train.

Day 5: Indian Pacific
Travel through salt lake country and vast Nullarbor Plain — the longest straight stretch of railway in the world. Stop at one of world’s most isolated outposts, Cook. Arrive in Rawlinna this evening for a short stop to enjoy the brilliant desert stars. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are served in the dining car. Overnight on the Indian Pacific.

Day 6: Arrive Perth
Today, take in the scenery of Avon Valley over breakfast before arriving in Perth. Transfer to Crowne Plaza Perth (or similar) for a one-night stay.  Discover Perth’s major attractions, including a replica of 1899 Perth Tram. Cruise Swan River to Fremantle and enjoy scenic tour of historic Port City.

Day 7: Perth to Darwin
Transfer included to the airport today in a deluxe chauffeured car. Fly Perth-Darwin* today, check into Darwin Hilton (or similar).  Airport transfer included to your Darwin hotel.   Darwin is known for its relaxed outdoor lifestyle and enjoyed warm weather all year round. The sea surrounds the city. More than 50 nationalities call Darwin home.

Day 8: Kakadu National Park
Your first stop this morning is Fogg Dam, a vast, open wetland area that is home to large numbers of colorful birds during the Top End dry season. After a stop for tea, join a small group scenic cruise around the picturesque Corroboree billabong, viewing a large variety of wetland birds and the Top End’s famous saltwater crocodiles in their natural environment.

This is part of the Mary River wetlands system, which has the largest concentration of saltwater crocodiles in the world. The birdlife out on the wetland is fantastic, with many different species of birds including Jabiru, Ibis, Brolga, Jacana, Egrets, Herons, Kites, Sea Eagles, Whistling ducks, Magpie, Geese and many others.

Learn about the wildlife on the billabong from your knowledgeable guide. After the cruise, we then head off the highway down the old Jim Jim 4WD dirt track into Kakadu, where you will have ample opportunity to view bird and wildlife at numerous waterholes along the way. This tour is a must for keen wildlife and bird photographers, so make sure your camera is charged! This private journey includes a stay in Cooinda Lodge (or similar), a 3.5-star property that is clean, comfortable and better access for touring.

Day 9: Kakadu to Darwin
After a delicious breakfast, visit Nanguluwur rock art and Aboriginal occupation sites. The Nanguluwur site is less well-known, so we are well away from tourist crowds, yet it has some excellent examples of rock art, including the rare and ancient ‘dynamic figures’. There are also examples of the famous ‘x-ray’ style art and so-called ‘contact period’ art, when Aboriginal people had first contact with Europeans.

Your guide will explain the unique art and rich culture of the area. Next, head south to Maguk (Barramundi Gorge) to spend the afternoon in this picturesque area. At the end of a monsoonal forest walk, enjoy a swim in a refreshing, natural plunge pool with a beautiful, perennial waterfall cascading above you. Return to Darwin for your overnight at the Hilton (or similar).

Day 10: Boarding The Ghan
Enjoy your included transfer from the hotel to the train station. Board the legendary Ghan this morning. Enjoy lunch on board, relax in your cabin. Arrive Katherine early afternoon and take a leisurely cruise on the Katherine River or meet the traditional owners of Nitmiluk (Katherine) Gorge, the Jawoyn people. You can choose to take a scenic helicopter flight (additional cost). Dinner served on board tonight.

Day 11: The Ghan to Alice Springs
This morning on board, wake up to a magical experience: the wonders of the Red Center. Breakfast is served, then take an off-train excursion to explore Alice. (You can choose to take a helicopter excursion, additional expense.) Dine in Alice this evening beneath a canopy of stars at an authentic Outback Bush Barbecue. Arrive Alice Springs.

Day 12: On board the Ghan
After breakfast, arrive in Manguri and disembark for a tour to Coober Pedy. This is the sun-scorched opal mining capital of the world. More than half of the residents live underground. Venture into the town’s underground tunnels and caves and have a gourmet lunch underground. Return to the Ghan and relax before dining in the Queen Adelaide Restaurant this evening.

Day 13: Arrive Adelaide
This morning, you will love the dramatic change in the landscape. It changes form the rich ocher tones of the outback to the beautiful green of South Australia. Breakfast is served in the restaurant before arriving in Adelaide. Your transfer is included to your hotel. Overnight one night in the Playford Adelaide (or similar). Includes full breakfast. This boutique hotel in the heart of Adelaide is a great location. Explore this South Australian city at your leisure.

Day 14: Ayers Rock
This morning, meet your limousine driver for your transfer to the Adelaide Airport. *Flight on your own arrangements. Our driver will meet you at the Ayers Rock Airport with a sign with your name on it — and take you to the magical land of Uluru, the true Aborginal name for what many people call Ayers Rock. It rises 348 meters high and is one of the country’s most recognized natural landmarks. It dates back 500 million years.  Overnight tonight at the Sails in the Desert Hotel, Ayers Rock (or similar). Breakfast is included daily. Tonight, we arrange for you the Sounds of Silence Dinner — one of the most memorable experiences IRT has had in Australia. In front is Uluru. Behind are the domes of Kata Tjuta and a most spectacular sunset. Sparkling wine, canapes, and a barbecue buffet are all included. Stargazing the southern night sky is a memorable experience.

Day 15: Uluru Sunrise, Kata Tjuta
Set out early this morning on a small-group tour.  Watch the first light of the new day at Uluru as you enjoy a cup of tea or coffee and have an Outback picnic breakfast.  You will learn the creation stories of Liru (poisonous snake) and Kuniya (python) and hear about the Mala people. After breakfast you will visit Mutitjulu Waterhole and then drive around the base of the Uluru before returning to the resort.

This afternoon, travel to Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park to a place where unique flora and fauna thrive – Kata Tjuta (The Olgas).  Here your guide (small group tour) will reveal the many attributes of this diverse environment and describe the cultural significance of Kata Tjuta as a sacred Aboriginal men’s ceremonial site.  Arriving at Walpa Gorge, walk between the mighty conglomerate domes and hear how these 36 domes that make up Kata Tjuta have evolved over millions of years.  Take time to listen to the wind (Walpa) far above and view the scale of the rock walls that surround you. The spirituality of this amazing location embraces everyone who ventures here.

Day 16: Ayers Rock
Today is at leisure and time to do some independent exploring — or just relax. Overnight Sails of the Desert (or similar).

Day 17: Sydney and your onward travels
Today, you’ll transfer to the Ayers Rock Airport for your flight to Sydney to connect in time for your international flight home.

*Sightseeing tours are included with Gold and Platinum service; internal flights not included in the pricing.

2020 Dates:

March 30
April 6, 13, 20, 27
May 4, 11, 18, 25
June 1, 8, 15, 22, 29
July 6, 13, 20, 27
August 3, 10, 17, 24, 31
September 7, 14, 21, 28
October 5, 12, 19, 26

The Prices

2020 Pricing: 17-Day Australia Rail Extravaganza (Platinum Service on Ghan & Indian Pacific)
On request

Please note for all departures: prices are in Australian Dollars. Please visit for a US dollar estimate of cost.

Prices are per person. Prices are subject to fluctuate based on availability and season of travel. 

Our Process / How to Book Your Trip:

This journey is especially time- and labor-intensive for our travel professionals.

Because of the time involved, we charge a $250 “plan to go” fee per person (or $500 for solo travelers) after we have had a brief courtesy phone conference with you, during which we will answer any preliminary questions you have and collect the necessary information to begin planning your trip. Please provide us with a wide range of availability in travel dates.

If your dates are not available, you will be refunded the “plan to go” fee.

If you take this trip, you will be refunded the “plan to go” fee after you return, minus any professional fees required for changes/additions to this itinerary.

Our “plan to go” fee ensures we are able to maintain an extremely high standard of service for all of our valued travelers!


*Off-train tours included with Gold and Platinum service only; flights not included in the pricing.

Itinerary may be adjusted depending on rail availability. It is best if you have some flexibility with your travel dates – especially if you would like Platinum Service on both trains.

IRT recommends Platinum service for the top class of service. Prices here include Platinum service. Gold service is available — but our guests who have traveled in Gold missed all the many little extras not offered in this class. Highly recommend Platinum. Book well in advance.

You must have an electronic visa to enter Australia. This can be processed online.

Latest News: Click here for Track 25, our blog, for the latest news on this and other tours on our World’s Top 25 Trains™.

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The Highlights

World-famous Indian Pacific train from Sydney to Perth, with meals included on board
The Ghan from Darwin to Adelaide
Experience Platinum service on The Ghan  — IRT’s top recommendation
Kakadu National Park
Kata Tjuta and Uluru
All accommodations, taxes, breakfast daily and all transfers included


The Ghan at The Darwin Terminal, Northern Territory.  (Photo courtesy of Great Southern Rail)
The Ghan at The Darwin Terminal, Northern Territory. (Photo courtesy of Great Southern Rail)
The Indian Pacific.  (Photo courtesy of Great Southern Rail)
The Indian Pacific. (Photo courtesy of Great Southern Rail)
The Ghan crossing over Elizabeth River.  (Photo courtesy of Great Southern Rail)
The Ghan crossing over Elizabeth River. (Photo courtesy of Great Southern Rail)
Indian Pacific locomotive.  (Photo courtesy of Great Southern Rail)
Indian Pacific locomotive. (Photo courtesy of Great Southern Rail)