Is the Indian Pacific woth the money
July 14, 2012 3:17 PM   Subscribe

Has anyone used the Indian Pacfic railway in Australia? Was it worth the price?

I will be spending a month or so in Australia next year as part of a round the world trip. I love the idea of taking the train from Sydney to Perth but it seems quite pricey. Those gold kangeroo single cabins look a lot better than spending 3 nights in coach but are 6 times more expensive. Are they worth it? Or should I just skip the whole thing?
posted by drugstorefrog to Travel & Transportation around Australia (9 answers total)
Travelling alone? Nah, I wouldn't bother, it would be a bit boring. Catch a $150 Syd - Perth flight instead if you want to get to Perth. If you want to do some rail touring, check out the Ghan or some long distance Queensland rail trips.
posted by Kerasia at 3:36 PM on July 14, 2012

It's pretty cool, I've done it twice, once in coach, once in a private cabin. However, I don't think either are worth the price, and I really enjoy train travel.

Coach is uncomfortable. The seats are OK, but after three days, I was really, really over it. Actually I was over it by Adelaide, and that isn't even half way. The company in the lounge was good though. Full of interesting characters from all over the world, all sick to death of their seats and their own company. Lots of students, because at that time at least, they could travel half price.

Private cabin was cool. I read and listened to music and watched the desert slowly change. The cabin was small, but comfy. However, half of the fare was paid for me. I was also the only person in first class under 40, and you have to share a table of four at meals, which is fine if you enjoy small talk, but I do not. The meals were excellent though, much better than what was available in the cheap seats.

It is an amazing journey though. Maybe do Sydney - Adelaide, or if you really want to see some nothing, Adelaide - Perth. Or take some breaks along the way (though they do only run twice every week). It gives you an unique insight into how empty inner Australia is. There is, or used to be, and middle class which would be worth considering. I've never seen it, but having a bed would make the three days much more bearable. Memail me if you've any specific questions.
posted by kjs4 at 4:26 PM on July 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

An Aussie friend and I took it from Sydney to Adelaide, and then drove back to Sydney along the Great Ocean Road. We were in coach. This was in 2000. It was fun to watch the country change, and we did see some kangaroos here and there along the way. That was most of our purpose, really - just to be able to sit back and relax for a while and watch the scenery, because we'd been going pretty full tilt at our travel together up to that point.

In retrospect, I would have had us get a cabin for sure and skimped somewhere else. I can't sleep sitting up, so I eventually took the floor and got a cold which I carried for the rest of my remaining three weeks in Australia. If you have a month, I don't think three days is too much to spend at it, but as kjs4 says, it definitely depends what your tolerance for the discomforts and pace/boredom of train travel is.
posted by jocelmeow at 4:55 PM on July 14, 2012

Yeah I haven't done it, but Australia's interior is really, really, surprisingly empty and featureless. It's not like you'll be passing through amazing scenery and quirky towns. Just a lot of scrub and a few roos.

You'd still get a sense of the vast emptiness, but also see the awesome natural beauty too, if you went to somewhere like Kata Tjuta.
posted by dontjumplarry at 5:05 PM on July 14, 2012

When I first moved to Australia in 2010, I backpacked around the country for 4 months before settling in Melbourne. I had considered the Indian Pacific, but was talked out of it by just about everyone I met.

A highlight of my travels was the 10 days I spent traveling Adelaide-Perth on the Nullarbor Traveller tour. They're the only tour company brave/crazy enough to attempt to turn a vast emptiness into an appealing tour option. They also travel in the opposite direction.

You get to see the Nullarbor, plus plenty of nice stuff on either end (Esperence in the west and the Eyre Peninsula in the east). Plenty of long driving days in the middle, but an opportunity to sleep in a swag under the stars each night. Mixed ages (low: early 20s, high: mid 60s) and nationalities, and everyone was lovely.
posted by adamk at 7:25 PM on July 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

We took the train from Perth to Adelaide. I'm glad we did it, but part of the attraction was taking our car and then driving to Melbourne.

The Perth-Adelaide leg is not an exciting journey. I wouldn't do it if I was only in Australia for a month. You're much better off getting cheap flights and using your time to tour from Perth.
posted by robcorr at 9:11 PM on July 14, 2012

We did Adelaide to Perth gold class and loved it. The scale of the land, the stressless trip, the soothing pace of rail travel... it was great.
posted by gingerest at 3:19 AM on July 15, 2012

I've done it in first/gold class. But it was paid for me. I did it with my [now] wife and my [now] in laws. The cabin was small but comfortable with a small ensuite bathroom. But there was a casual lounge you can use with big windows looking out on the desert. We spent most of our time in there. You get fed very well - breakfast, lunch and dinner. You will not starve.

Plus: Scenery, relaxation, food, the whole oldy worldy dining cars and lounges thing
Minus: The scenery is a bit samey after 3 days, you get fed so much and do so little it can be a bit much.

You definitely need someone to travel with or it will get a bit dull. I loved it, but by the third day I was plenty ready to get off and have a long walk. It was a real experience that is hard to replicate. At the risk of sounding snobbish, I wouldn't do it other than in the gold class. I'd rather catch a flight or drive it.
posted by MuffinMan at 3:29 AM on July 15, 2012

I travelled Perth - Sydney in coach several years ago while a Jim Carrey movie marathon played over the p/a for all to enjoy. Yes, that's approximately 72 hours of Carrey! You should check what the entertainment option are like these days or byo in first class. It's a lot of desert either way.
posted by sconbie at 4:54 AM on July 15, 2012

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