Travel SOS: riding the rails on the Indian Pacific

What do you do over four days on the Indian Pacific?

Travel SOS: riding the rails on the Indian Pacific

Lee Mylne has managed to combine her two passions – travelling and writing – into a long and successful career as a travel journalist. Her work is published in newspapers, magazines, websites and travel apps in Australia and around the world.

John’s dream of travelling across Australia on the Indian Pacific is being clouded by doubts that four days on a train is too long. Today, Lee Mylne outlines the itinerary to set his mind at ease.

Q. John
I’ve always been keen on taking the journey from east to west on the Indian Pacific but wonder if three nights and four days on a train would be too much? Alternatively, can I break the journey up along the way and if so, how would you suggest it’s done?

The Indian Pacific is a great train journey, and one you’ll thoroughly enjoy, John. I’m a big fan of riding the rails, and I really don’t think you’d find it boring to be on the train for four days at all. But that’s just me!

The journey is designed so that there’s plenty to see and do along the way, including time off the train. Platinum and Gold Service passengers have a choice of ‘off-train’ excursions included in your fare, or as optional upgrades – and I think this is a great way of making the most of the whole experience.

indian pacific

After the first night on the train (you don’t leave Sydney until 3pm), you spend a couple of hours in the morning exploring Broken Hill and then continue on to Adelaide. You then get about six hours in Adelaide before the overnight trip westward continues and can either take a tour of the city or head to the Barossa Valley for some wine tasting.

On day three, you have a couple of hours in the evening at Rawlinna – a tiny station on the Nullabor Plain – five hours drive from Kalgoorlie, the nearest town. The rail stop is on the edge of the sprawling Rawlinna sheep station, and guests in Platinum and Gold Service can disembark for a roast dinner under the stars (or stay on board if you prefer). Another amazing stop is at the deserted station at Cook, where you have time for a walk around to marvel at this outpost in the middle of nowhere. 

indian pacific

Image: Australian Tourism 

Arrival in Perth is at 3pm on day four … and I think you’ll find there’s been plenty to see along the way, as well as the opportunity to meet and talk to fellow travellers, read, or – if you’re like me – just gaze out of the window at the passing outback landscape. It’s certainly not ‘four days on a train’, as you can see.

The Indian Pacific offers several package options that also allow you different choices, depending on how much time you have or would like to spend in each major city along the way. Whichever you choose, I’m sure you’ll find this a very memorable trip!

Read more at Great Southern Rail

Have you travelled on the Indian Pacific? Do you have any tips for John?

Do you have a travel question for Lee? If so, email your Travel SOS to



    To make a comment, please register or login
    25th Feb 2017
    For me, my observation :
    the trackwork is that bad, that I would not be able to sleep as the train moved from side to side and up and down simultaneously. Sleep was impossible.
    I believe it is due to the heavy freight trains and a very tight purse as far as maintenance is concened.
    25th Feb 2017
    My dream trip and The Ghan. Love sleeping on trains. 4 days is not enough! One day soon ....
    25th Feb 2017
    One of the BEST trips we have made - it was a wonderful experience, met some lovely
    people, learned more about our beautiful land. Visited the School of the Air and the Royal Flying Doctor Service etc., and then 4 enjoyable days in Darwin. Flew home very happy with our holiday. The whole train experience great, train journeys to me are just so special.
    Did both the Indian Pacific and the Ghan.
    25th Feb 2017
    We have done the Indian Pacific twice from Perth to Sydney, and enjoyed it both times, but have to agree about the poor tracks. Very difficult to sleep, but that would be our only complaint. Food, refreshments of all types & service all excellent. Very much enjoyed trips and entertainments off-train at Kalgoorlie, Adelaide & Broken Hill
    25th Feb 2017
    Best trip ever,no issue with the track,sleep was no problem(beats trying to sleep/rest on a plane).Always something to see,to talk to other travellers about and to enjoy the company.
    Amazing sight was the balloons rising above Northam in the (very)early morning) as we traversed down the Avon valley.
    Recommend this trip to everyone.
    On to the Ghan next trip.
    25th Feb 2017
    I have done this trip and loved it! Train travel is so relaxing and the view from the window is entertainment enough for me ????
    26th Feb 2017
    Hello to all. I love train travel, and never had the chance before. I want to leave from Brisbane and return to Brisbane in comfort,can anyone advise me please? Time is not a issue. Tee
    26th Feb 2017
    I travelled on the Indian Pacific (in the sit ups) from Adelaide to Perth in 2003. It was horrific. Uncomfortable, broken equipment, being parked in sidings for an hour or so whilst freight trains got priority, lack of staff to assist, stopping in Cook for an hour! Entertainment was black and white films from about the 1930s. No way of knowing where we were as the onboard commentary was out of sync. Hated it. Maybe it's improved. I would hope so. Never again for me.
    26th Feb 2017
    This will the first trip for me by myself. I want to see my country leisurely. I am not very sure where to start on train travel, so I thought I would try here.thanks Christine for that. Cheers.
    fish head
    26th Feb 2017
    Ran away to Darwin for my 70th (my family's description - I was NOT having another surprise birthday party, bless them). Rode the Ghan solo to Adelaide. Absolutely beautiful. Didn't even open my book. Not for the impatient. Offtrain excursions all interesting. Indian Pacific is on my bucket list.
    26th Feb 2017
    Thank you fish head. Unusual name. Yes, That is what I am looking for lots to see and take photos of everything. I just don't want to fly any where as I get very sick. It's a Curse. Regards
    30th Apr 2017
    The Indian Pacific is certainly on my to do list and I wish to get off in Broken Hill and spend some days there as that is where I grew up. I did the Ghan from Darwin to Adelaide in 2015 and absolutely loved it. Food, staff and off train excursions were absolutely fantastic and loved socialising in the lounge area. If you are going to do the Ghan trip make sure it goes into Coober Pedy as I loved this experience the most. Not all trips do this.

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