If change is as good as a rest, then forget switching countries to shake things up, opt for a change of pace instead joining Zoe Macfarlane aboard the iconic Indian Pacific railway.
The Indian Pacific is Australia’s version of the Orient Express, delivering a fancy 30-carriage train that provides respite to 200 travellers of all ages from around the world.
Though the journey commences for many in Perth, I hopped aboard at its midway point, Adelaide, embracing 25 hours of train travel in a trip that takes just two by air.
Entering the Indian Pacific evoked a childish nostalgia, melding Enid Blyton’s fictional boarding school train trips with Agatha Christie murder mysteries.
You’d think the Indian Pacific was as old as the Bailey’s-drinking octogenarian aboard but it surprisingly only commenced departures in 1970.
The Indian Pacific cabins elicit a time when travel was a luxury, not a necessity. Wood panelling and old-fashioned upholstery set the vibes to ‘classic rail journey’. Cabin design resourcefulness utilises every space, proving that the hip #tinyhome movement doesn’t belong to millennials.
The Meaning of Life
Our modern go-go-go lifestyle leaves little time to reflect on what’s meaningful in life so the appeal of the Indian Pacific is the change of pace. There’s no Wi-Fi and phone service is spotty throughout. No in-room TV or sports lounge. You’re thrust into… face-to-face conversations. Gasp.
Drinks Are On Me
In the Outback Explorer Lounge, the drinks are always on you (aka, the booze is free). This lively lounge is where you head to have a yarn with your fellow passengers, or if you’re experiencing cabin fever.
When was the last time you were randomly paired up with strangers to dine? At the Queen Adelaide Restaurant, you get to mix things up as you’re randomly assigned to a table of four. Enticing menus reflect dishes with an Australian flair and regional flavours.
View with a ‘Roo
The Indian Pacific route is the largest stretch of straight rail tracks in the world. The sparseness of the Outback is evident with extensive views of ochre soil and lowland shrubs, punctuated by the occasional settlement and unexpected salt plains. Kangaroo spotting from the lounge is the number one on-board game.
It’s No Drag
Off-train excursions are included in your fare. For my leg, it was Broken Hill, a border town famed for its mining, art and… drag queens. Priscilla Queen of the Desert was filmed here and one of the whistle-stop excursions was a drag show (alternatively an art exhibit or museum was on offer). Although the performance was a little lacklustre (or was it that I was sober?), it was still fun.
Indian Pacific Matchmaker
How can you tell if the Indian Pacific is for you? If you’re the type of person who would rather perform in the Broken Hill drag show than be without Wi-Fi then maybe not. But if you’re ready to embrace a slower pace and swap stories with worldly travellers, then simply pick a date and go.
Have you been on an iconic rail journey?
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