This classic long-distance rail journey crosses the Australian continent from the Pacific Ocean in the east to the Indian Ocean in the west. Running twice weekly in each direction, trains are hauled by huge diesel locomotives and can be up to a kilometre (over half a mile) in length.
From Sydney, the journey provides an inspiring overview of many of the country’s most distinctive landscapes: the lush, heavily forested slopes of the Blue mountains give way to the Sprawling rural heartland of New South Wales which in turn is succeeded by the bleak outback scenery of the Broken Hill mining region. Crossing into South Australia gives you fine views of the Flinders Ranges with their dramatic ridges.
After an extended stop in Adelaide, the Indian Pacific heads northwest along the Spencer Gulf to Port Augusta before embarking on the most forbidding part of the journey, across the vast and featureless Nullarbor Plain (which means literally ’empty of trees’) – 1,200 km (750 mi) of red earth, low scrub and nothing else, which includes the longest straight stretch of railway track in the world (478 km/ 300 mi). The bustling gold-mining centre of Kalgoorlie returns you to human activity with a jolt before your last night on board conveys you the final 600 km (375 mi) for a morning arrival in the West Australian capital of Perth.
The Indian Pacific is run by the same company that operates the Ghan Railway, and it offers the same range of travel options. If your budget allows, the most comfortable option is to travel Gold Kangaroo class – a definite recommendation for the en-suite accommodation, full on-board catering and the attentive but relaxed service throughout your journey.
Mode of transport
When To Visit
You can take this journey at any time of the year as the train is fully air-conditioned. If you get off the train at any of the outback stops, however, you should bear in mind that temperatures can climb well above 40 C (104 F) in the summer months (December to February).
Duration of the journey
Three days, with three nights on board and extended stops for optional tours at Broken Hill, Adelaide and Kalgoorlie.
- Early morning sightings of Kangaroos and emus beside the line. Experiencing something of the hard life of the miner on an underground mine tour in Broken Hill.
- The majestic spectacle of a soaring wedge-tailed eagle. Australia’s largest flighted bird symbol of the Indian Pacific.
You should know
This route has only been possible as an uninterrupted journey from coast to coast since 1970 when standard gauge rail lines were adopted in the three states through which it passes.