When my partner and I spent some time in Australia, we decided to embark on one of the great train journeys in the world, the Indian-Pacific. The full length of the trip spans from Perth in the west to Sydney in the east and the sights along the way are amazing. While we stopped in Adelaide instead of going the full route, those two days onboard the train were phenomenal and had me yearning for more. It truly is a wonderful way to get across the Australian continent and while there are many reasons to enjoy the journey, these are in my opinion the most important.
1. Comfort and ease – There’s a lot to be said for crossing a continent without having to put a lot of thought into the experience. That’s the beauty of the Indian-Pacific, as soon as you step onboard those quotidian concerns are taken from your shoulders. It’s also a remarkably comfortable ride, although there are of course several different classes of service. I’m a luxury guy so it was with great joy that my partner and I entered our Platinum Class berth on the train. This private compartment was perfect for our trip from Perth to Adelaide and had everything from a sitting area that converted into beds and a full sized bathroom including shower. Several times I had to pinch myself to prove that I was indeed on a train and not a cruise ship somewhere. Given the nature of the journey, the service staff does a lot to make sure that the passengers are comfortable, especially at mealtimes. Passengers in both Gold and Platinum Classes of service have access to their own dining car where delicious meals are served up three times a day. Not bad for a train, I mean, it’s a train! This rolling hotel has everything one needs and was an incredibly easy way to cross Australia.
2. Incredible access – A trip on the Indian-Pacific is on many people’s bucket list because of the scenery and the remarkable access that the train provides. Chugging through some incredibly remote parts of the country, there honestly is no other way to visit these spots other than train. Our trip took us through Kalgoorlie, the capital of the Goldfields region where our train stopped for several hours, giving us the opportunity to explore this remote city. Much like a cruise ship at port, there are several stops along the Indian-Pacific journey from ghost towns like Cook in the middle of the Nullarbor Plain to the much more interesting city of Adelaide in South Australia. More than just the whistle-stop tours though, the scenery through which the train passes is unlike anything else on this planet. To see the rich diversity of Australia’s landscapes without the train would be hard, expensive and ultimately futile. But on the train we sat back and watched as deserts larger than all of the UK streaked past, an experience completely unparalleled anywhere else in the world.
3. Good to go slow and disconnect – There is no Wi-Fi and the train goes through areas so remote that cell service is off more than it is on. Rather than complain about this lack of technological connectivity, use it instead as a great way to relax, decompress and get away from the modern world for a couple of days. I am an Internet junkie, a fact that should in no way surprise you. But it’s also a social disease and I find that when I’m without easy access to email I start to get jittery and concerned about all that I am missing. At least for the first few hours. Soon, after accepting the fact that no matter how close to the window I held my phone I just wasn’t going to connect, came acceptance. I turned off all gadgets and looked at the world around me, a shockingly rare experience. I relaxed, I read, I watched the beautiful Australian terrain race past. My partner and I had great talks, enjoyed delicious meals – in other words we took a short vacation. It’s sad how rare it is that we in this modern world truly detach and relax, but that singular experience proved to me just how very important it is to do, even if only now and then.
4. Journey more important than the destination – I’m a firm believer that sometimes how you get somewhere is just as important and special as the destination. I particularly love transportation and a nice plane ride actually is an enjoyable experience for me, separate from the destination but just as important. That’s what the Indian-Pacific is. It transcends a simple mode of conveyance into an experience unto its own right. Let’s be honest, if I wanted to get from Perth to Sydney, there are faster, cheaper and easier ways than by taking a 4-day train trip. Then why do it? Because it’s an adventure, it’s an escape, it’s a way to pretend that travel is still sophisticated and elegant. That being treated in style with respect is still a real thing and not relegated to history books.
These are just a few reasons why I think everyone should hop on board the Indian Pacific at least once in their lives. What reasons would you add?