A journey on the Ghan or the Indian Pacific

March 4, 2024
By Patrick Cros

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With its fascinating vastness, Australia is an ideal continent for travel by train, offering a true luxury hotel experience on rails through the magnificent, isolated, and wild Outback. On the agenda: breathtaking views from large bay windows, while relaxing in the comfort of your cabin or lounge, and enjoying tasteful breakfasts, lunches, and dinners, with stops at key places to explore. Enjoy the journey on the Ghan for travel from North to South, and the Indian Pacific from East to West. Our team of specialists at Goway is ready to help you organize exclusive trips for your clients ([email protected]).

These are two legendary trains for a unique way to discover Australia.

The Indian Pacific crosses Australia from West to East (and vice versa), from Sydney (on the Pacific Ocean coast) to Perth (on the Indian Ocean coast) via the Blue Mountains, Broken Hill, Barossa Valley, Adelaide, the Nullarbor Plain, and Perth. It is a 5-day journey across the southern part of the continent (and in 4 days from Sydney to Perth). You can land in Perth or in Sydney to board the Indian Pacific. It is also possible to start or end your journey in Adelaide and head towards Sydney or Perth.

The Ghan crosses Australia from North to South, from Darwin to Adelaide via Alice Springs in 4 days (and in 3 days in the opposite direction). You can land in Adelaide, Darwin, or Alice Springs to board. As with the Indian Pacific, it is possible to travel just on a section, starting or finishing, for example, halfway at Alice Springs, in the heart of the continent.

Both trains offer an all-inclusive service (with a range of off-train excursions also included) in Platinum, Gold Premium (a new feature for 2024), and Gold classes, with Single, Double, or Twin cabins.

Platinum Cabin

The most luxurious class offered by the train, Platinum service includes transfers between hotels and the train at the start and end of the journey, as well as a cabin twice as spacious as the Gold cabin. During the day, it transforms into a comfortable lounge with luxury seats, a table, and two ottomans. At night, it becomes a cozy double or twin bedroom. The Platinum Club, exclusive to Platinum passengers, offers a premium bar, lounge, and flexible dining area (with two-course lunches and four-course dinners, all inspired by the region and accompanied by Bollinger champagne and premium wines).

Platinum cabins include:

  • All-inclusive gourmet meals in the Platinum Club dining car
  • Unlimited Bollinger champagne, Australian wines, beers, spirits, soft drinks, and barista coffee throughout your journey
  • Immersive off-train experiences and priority in tour selection
  • Spacious Double or Twin cabins, almost twice the size of a Gold cabin
  • By day, the cabins are arranged as a lounge with a movable table and two ottomans
  • In the evening, the cabins are converted into double or twin beds
  • Ensuite bathroom equipped with a separate shower, a vanity with storage space, toilet, and essential toiletries
  • Premium quality products, extremely soft bed linen, and silk sleep masks
  • Socializing at your leisure in the Platinum Club dining car
  • Freshly prepared continental breakfasts and refreshments served in your cabin on request
  • Transfers at the start and end of your journey for guests within 60 km of the rail terminal
  • Electrical outlets and a safe in the cabin
  • In-cabin music channels and audio commentary on the journey
  • Priority luggage check-in
  • A checked luggage allowance of 90 kg per guest (3 x 30 kg each, to be checked into the luggage car, plus a small carry-on and one hand luggage item, stored in your cabin)

Gold Premium Cabin

Launched in 2024 on the Ghan, and in 2025 on the Indian Pacific, the Gold Premium cabins feature a compact bathroom with toilet, sink, and shower, and you can choose from a selection of music channels in the cabin.

Gold Premium cabins include:

  • The Gold Premium Lounge, a space to enjoy a cup of coffee in the morning, a drink in the afternoon, and a "last glass" in the evening. Dining here is a feast, with a contemporary design paying homage to Art Deco as the setting for carefully crafted meals.
  • Hearty breakfasts, two-course lunches inspired by the region, and delicate four-course dinners highlight the finest ingredients from local suppliers, farmers, and producers. Naturally, this comes with a selection of premium Australian wines.
  • A newly designed contemporary cabin that transforms into a lounge by day and bunk beds by night
  • A private and compact en-suite bathroom with shower, sink, and toilet
  • Premium toiletries, extremely soft bed linen, and silk eye masks
  • Exclusive access to the Gold Premium Lounge for premium drinks and socializing
  • All-inclusive meals in the Gold Premium dining car
  • Two-course lunches inspired by the region and four-course dinners
  • Premium Australian wines, beers, spirits, and non-alcoholic beverages throughout your journey
  • Immersive Off-Train Experiences and priority in excursion selection
  • In-cabin music channels and audio commentary on the journey
  • Priority luggage check-in
  • A checked luggage allowance of 75 kg per guest (3 x 25 kg each to be checked into the luggage car, plus a small carry-on and one hand luggage item, stored in your cabin).

Gold Cabin

The Gold cabin offers hearty breakfasts, two-course lunches, and three-course dinners. Guests can also choose to accompany their meal with a selection of wines and other beverages, all included in the fare.

Gold Twin cabins feature a compact private bathroom, with toilet, sink, and shower.

Note, Gold Single cabins have spacious shared sanitary facilities (with communal showers and toilets located at the end of the carriage) and high-quality Australian toiletries provided individually.

Gold Single and Twin cabins include:

  • All-inclusive meals at the Queen Adelaide restaurant
  • Complimentary Australian wines, beers, spirits, soft drinks, and barista coffee throughout your journey
  • Access to the Outback Explorer Lounge for a drink or conversation
  • Immersive off-train experiences
  • A compact sleeper cabin with a single bed that converts into a seat during the day
  • Complimentary toiletries
  • Power outlets
  • In-cabin music channels and audio commentary on the journey
  • A checked luggage allowance of 60 kg per guest (2 x 30 kg each, to be checked into the luggage car, plus a small carry-on and one hand luggage item, stored in your cabin)

The Ghan, from Darwin to Adelaide

From Darwin to Adelaide in March and November, the three-day journey on the Ghan includes stops at Katherine, Alice Springs, and Manguri.

From April to October, the journey from Darwin to Adelaide becomes "The Ghan Expedition," spanning four days, including a stop at Coober Pedy and a dinner under the stars, which is one of the highlights of the adventure.

In Darwin, head to the Convention Centre (Darwin Convention Centre), with views over the Waterfront (Darwin Waterfront) and the Wharf. After completing check-in, a light breakfast is offered there, before boarding buses that lead to the Darwin Rail Terminal to embark on the Ghan.

  • For 2024 bookings, transfers are included from selected hotels (DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Esplanade Darwin / Mindil Beach Casino Resort / Travelodge Darwin / Hilton Darwin / Adina Apartment Hotel Darwin Waterfront / Vibe Hotel Darwin / Oaks Élan Darwin)
  • For 2025 bookings, Gold passengers will need to make their own way to the Darwin Convention Centre. Platinum passengers will still have the transfer included from their hotel.

The Ghan Expedition

From Darwin to Adelaide (4 days and 9 meals), the experience allows exploring the wonders of the Australian vastness on one of the most renowned rail journeys in the world. Starting in Darwin, this all-inclusive 4-day journey takes you through some of the most remote and captivating parts of Australia with style and comfort.

Operating from April to October, this adventure through the country's interior indeed showcases the Australian Outback in all its strength and splendor. In the Northern Territory: exploration of Katherine and Alice Springs (with a signature dining experience at the Telegraph Station). In South Australia, visit Manguri/Coober Pedy before reaching the final destination, Adelaide.

Day 1: Darwin, Katherine

Settle into the Ghan, relax in your cabin or get to know other travelers in the lounge car. Enjoy lunch before your off-train experience in Katherine. In a region known for its incredible natural assets, Katherine offers one of the most beautiful natural sites in the Top End, the Nitmiluk Gorges, where a cruise is offered. Alternatively, Katherine's "Outback experience" immerses you in the life of the locals, exploring Cutta Cutta Caves, local wildlife, the richness of Aboriginal culture, and the history of pioneers. Or, admire it all from the air, with an optional helicopter flight over Nitmiluk available at an additional cost. (L, D)

Day 2: Alice Springs

Your arrival in Alice Springs after breakfast gives you time to explore this iconic city at the ochre heart of Australia during an off-train experience. Choose from: an all-terrain electric bike adventure, the "Alice Explorer" tour which includes a visit to the Royal Flying Doctors and breathtaking views of the city and its surroundings from ANZAC Hill, a cultural experience at the stunning natural site of Standley Chasm, meeting local fauna at the Desert Park, or discovering the beauty of Simpson’s Gap in the heart of the McDonnell Ranges. Optionally available at an additional cost: Scenic flight over the vast Outback with Uluru and Kata-Tjuta as a backdrop. At nightfall, dine under the Milky Way at the Alice Springs Telegraph Station, with the red earth at your feet and white tablecloths to enjoy the dishes. An unforgettable night. (B, L, D)

Day 3: Manguri, Coober Pedy

In the morning, the train stops at Manguri. Here, you venture into the unusual opal mining town of Coober Pedy, where more than half of the residents live underground. Enjoy a day of discovery and a gourmet lunch in one of the most unusual places: underground! The off-train experiences offered include exploring the majestic Breakaways, visiting the town, learning about the mining history during the "Opal Experience," or – optionally available at an additional cost - a scenic flight over the Painted Hills and Lake Eyre.

Dinner is served aboard the train, where you can enjoy a final drink as your journey continues. (B, L, D)

Day 4: Adelaide

Enjoy brunch as you prepare to arrive in Adelaide. (B)

The Ghan

From Adelaide to Darwin (3 days and 7 meals), the train travel from the green to the ochre of arid plains where the colors of the Outback bring out the full intensity of the landscapes. With stops at Marla, Alice Springs, and Katherine to learn more about the history, culture, and significance of each of these picturesque small Outback towns.

Day 1: Adelaide

Board the Ghan in Adelaide for an incredible journey through the heart of Australia. As the train leaves the city towards the Flinders Ranges, the landscapes evolve from pastoral lands to the desert plains of the Outback, sparking the imagination and enhancing the feeling of reaching the end of the world. Lunch is served onboard - the first of the gourmet meals prepared by chefs, showcasing regional and seasonal flavors.

Spend the rest of the day enjoying life on board. Dinner comes with a selection of Australian wines, beers, and non-alcoholic beverages. (L, D)

Day 2: Marla, Alice Springs

Wake up to a stunning Outback sunrise at Marla - an isolated bush outpost 160 kilometers from the Northern Territory border, marking the beginning of the Oodnadatta Track. With the red earth at your feet and a campfire to warm the morning air.

Board the train for brunch as you continue towards Alice Springs. Here, you'll have a choice of off-train experiences. There's something for everyone: from an MTB adventure on the ochre earth, to visiting the city's main attractions with the Alice Explorer tour, a cultural experience at Standley Chasm, meeting local fauna at the Desert Park, or discovering Simpson’s Gap, a superb natural site. Alternatively, you can see it all from the air (optional at an additional cost) with a helicopter flight. Return to the train in the late afternoon where you'll have time to rest and freshen up before dinner is served. (B, L, D)

Day 3: Katherine, Darwin

Your day starts in the tropical north as the landscape transforms into canyon country. Get ready to explore one of the Top End's most beautiful natural sites on a cruise along Nitmiluk Gorge. Your guide will highlight Nitmiluk's significance to the indigenous Jawoyn people and the many stories that celebrate their spiritual connection to the gorges. Optional helicopter flight for those who wish to see Nitmiluk from the sky, at an additional cost. Alternatively, Katherine's Outback experience immerses you in the life of Outback inhabitants, through a vast cattle station.

After the day's activities, the train resumes its journey towards Darwin, the end of the trip. (B, L)

3-Day Journey from Darwin to Adelaide
In March and November, the southbound journey on the Ghan, from Darwin to Adelaide, is a three-day experience. During the all-inclusive 2,979 km journey, the Ghan stops at Katherine, Alice Springs, and Manguri, to explore remote Australian sites and experience immersive off-train adventures.

Indian Pacific

East to West or West to East, between Sydney and Perth, the Indian Pacific train covers a journey of 4,352 kilometers, crossing mountain ranges, arid desert plains, and renowned wine regions.

The journey takes the world's longest straight stretch of railway track across the Nullarbor Plain between Adelaide and Perth.

The journey can be undertaken in its entirety or in part, from Perth to Adelaide, or from Sydney to Adelaide (and vice versa).

From Perth to Sydney

From Perth to Sydney, ocean to ocean, the Indian Pacific spans Australia in 5 days (12 meals), connecting the west and east for over 50 years. This transcontinental journey crosses cities and wilderness, showcasing the continent's diverse landscapes, from urban horizons to arid plains and forests. Starting in Perth, the first day of your journey is dedicated to life on board the train, and as the Indian Pacific continues its journey overnight, you wake up in the Outback with a first stop in Kalgoorlie, then, about 900 km further, in Cook on the Nullarbor Plain. It then crosses South Australia, stopping in the Barossa Valley, famous for its wines, for a culinary experience, as well as in Broken Hill and the Blue Mountains as it approaches Sydney.

Day 1: Perth

Your afternoon begins with a welcome gathering at the station, to celebrate the start of your cross-country journey along the world's longest straight stretch of railway. Spend a relaxed afternoon getting acquainted with other passengers after boarding the Indian Pacific and departing Perth, leaving the Indian Ocean behind and "sailing" towards the Pacific. In the evening, a delicious dinner is served on board, featuring contemporary Australian cuisine with seasonal and regional flavors. (D)

Day 2: Kalgoorlie, Cook

Wake up to see the sunrise over the Australian Outback town of Kalgoorlie. In the morning, delve into the fascinating past and present of this mining town, with a look back at the region's gold rush era, now home to the modern Super Pit mine. Decide how you wish to explore Kalgoorlie with a choice of off-train experiences, including refreshments. Board the train mid-morning for brunch. The rest of the day is yours to enjoy on board. Relax and enjoy the comfort of the train while taking in the spectacular views of the endless expanse of the Nullarbor Plain. You'll cross a border and a time zone entering South Australia before dinner. Late in the evening, the train stops in the near ghost town of Cook for a final drink, a campfire at dusk, and a stargazing experience. (B,L,D)

Day 3: Barossa Valley

Spend the morning crossing pastoral lands and remote communities of South Australia as the Indian Pacific skirts the Flinders Ranges, Spencer Gulf, and the Adelaide plains. Breakfast and lunch are both served on board. In the mid-afternoon, the train stops at Two Wells, where you'll disembark for a short comfortable coach ride to the world-renowned wine region of the Barossa Valley. You'll spend the evening at Seppeltsfield Winery, enjoying an iconic culinary experience in the historic cellar.

A traditional 'Barrel Lighting' is part of the evening, along with a meal and wine pairing organized by Chef Owen Andrews, highlighting regional products and traditional methods reflecting Barossa's history. Here, Platinum guests also enjoy a centuries-old wine tasting experience.

After dinner, you'll return to the Indian Pacific, continuing your rail journey through the night. (B,L,D)

Day 4: Broken Hill

Crossing another border overnight, you'll wake up in Broken Hill, New South Wales. Enjoy a hearty breakfast before embarking on the day's activities in the "Silver City." You'll have a choice of four off-train experiences, including guided tours through history, art, and culture, highlighting the highlights of Australia's first heritage-listed city.

Return to the train for lunch, then admire the landscape as the Indian Pacific crosses New South Wales. Tonight, dinner is served on board as you make the most of your last night exploring Australia by train. (B,L,D)

Day 5: Blue Mountains, Sydney

The Blue Mountains are known for their towering sandstone cliffs rising above valleys and forests. This World Heritage-listed area marks your last stop before arriving in Sydney. Say goodbye to the Indian Pacific after breakfast to delve deep into the mountains during this off-train experience.

Scenic World offers four exceptional experiences in the Blue Mountains, from the Scenic Skyway, which transports you above ancient ravines with 360-degree views, to the Scenic Cableway gliding above the forest down to the valley floor, and the Scenic Railway, the world's steepest passenger railway. Alternatively, choose a guided walk offering spectacular views from many lookouts along the trail. Both experiences conclude at Echo Point Lookout, located on the edge of the escarpment at Katoomba, where a light lunch is served.

Complete your journey on our New South Wales chartered rail service (fully supported by your Indian Pacific crew) to arrive at Sydney Central Station. Alternatively, if you prefer to arrive in Sydney earlier, stay aboard the Indian Pacific to travel directly to Sydney Central Station. (B,L)

Alternative Journeys: Perth to Adelaide (3 days) Adelaide to Sydney (3 days)

From Sydney to Perth

From Sydney to Perth (4 days and 9 meals),

The Indian Pacific embarks on its epic transcontinental journey between the two oceans that lend it its name, a tradition spanning over half a century. Departing from Sydney, this remarkable voyage traverses mountain ranges, cuts through arid landscapes and goldfields, rocky valleys, and coastal vistas before arriving in Perth. Bid farewell to Sydney as you head west, passing through the Blue Mountains, and making stops at Broken Hill and Adelaide along the way. Cross the incredible Nullarbor Plain and take a break at Rawlinna, a small Outback outpost where you will dine under a canopy of stars.

Day 1: Sydney

Departing from Sydney Central Station, get acquainted with your cabin and fellow travelers. Leave the cityscapes behind as the Indian Pacific winds its way through the Blue Mountains with breathtaking views. Relax in your cabin or in the lounge with a cup of coffee or a snack upon request. Tonight, enjoy your first meal onboard - a dinner inspired by the region accompanied by fine wines and beverages. After dinner, consider a nightcap in the lounge before retiring to your cabin. (D)

Day 2: Broken Hill, McLaren Vale, Adelaide Surrounds

After breakfast, prepare for your first off-train experience in Broken Hill, the "Silver City". Explore the mining heritage by visiting the Broken Hill Trades Hall and the Miners' Memorial overlooking the town or, for a different take on Broken Hill, take a tour down the main street with locals.

Art enthusiasts may choose to visit the Living Desert Sculpture Park or explore the exhibits at New South Wales' oldest regional art gallery. Alternatively, ignite a spark of nostalgia at Bells Milk Bar, a Broken Hill icon, by sipping a malted milk while Cindy and Johnny take you back to the 50s.

Lunch is served onboard as the Indian Pacific enters the southern tip of the Flinders Ranges.

Arriving in Adelaide in the late afternoon offers a chance for an off-train experience, exploring the South Australian Museum (famous for its Aboriginal art collection) or indulging in a culinary experience: visit McLaren Vale to taste South Australian wines before a meal of local produce, or for a cheese or gin tasting in the charming village of Hahndorf (in the Adelaide Hills) before feasting at Haus, a restaurant showcasing the best of local produce. Alternatively, visit Adelaide Central Market for an exclusive tour and dinner. (B,L,D)

Day 3: Nullarbor Plain

This day offers spectacular views of the Outback as the train crosses the famed Nullarbor Plain, and the world's longest straight stretch of railway. Along the way, the Indian Pacific stops at Cook, a once bustling bush village now almost a ghost town, originally built as a support town for the railway.

Continuing westward, the next stop is Rawlinna on the edge of Australia's largest sheep station for a signature dinner under a thousand stars. (B,L,D)

Day 4: Perth

Enjoy the view over the charming undulations of the Avon Valley and savor a final breakfast onboard as the last leg of this transcontinental crossing unfolds. Arriving in Perth is the time to say goodbye to fellow travelers and the crew. You've just traveled together… 4,352 kilometers on the Indian Pacific! (B,L)

Alternative journeys: Sydney to Adelaide (2 Days) or Adelaide to Perth (3 Days)

Images : Journey Beyond

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