Iconic Named Trains
The Indian Pacific
The Ghan and the Indian Pacific are Australia's two iconic long distance railways, famous as much as anything because they cross the vast continent from one side to the other. The Indian Pacific, which travels from the west coast to east coast on a 3-day, 4,352 km trek across Australia, is billed as one of the world's great train journeys. The three day trip (if you do it all in one go) takes you through just about every kind of terrain you're likely to find on the Australian continent, giving travellers a true indication of how vast Australia really is.
Whereas the Indian Pacific travels from east to west, The Ghan travels north to south, providing a rail link between Darwin and Adelaide via Alice Springs. The Ghan is a great way to see Australia's Red centre - you get a real feel for the scale of the Australian outback, which you simply don't on an aeroplane. The journey is ideally split into two 24-hour sectors with a stop-over in Alice Springs.
Fondly referred to as the old 'tin hare', the Gulflander is an award-winning service, which operates between Normanton and Croydon in Queensland's Gulf Country. A half-day journey, The Gulflander often stops for an impromptu morning tea supplied by the locals and for photo opportunities at Norman River Bridge.
The Savannahlander is a truly unique journey that travels all the way from Cairns to Forsayth, 423 kilometres away, over two days. Affectionately known as 'The Silver Bullet', the 1960's Savannahlander is one of the world's greatest rail experiences, offering passengers the opportunity to discover the outback in a very unique and comfortable way.
One of Victoria's most notable attraction is the heritage narrow gauge, steam-operated Puffing Billy Railway, which was reopened in 1962 - after four years of restoration by volunteers - and travels to Gembrook. The restored Puffing Billy steam train takes travellers on a memorable journey in the Dandenong Ranges, through 24 kilometres of cool temperate rainforest, lush ferns and towering timbers, semi-urban development and rural farmland.
The Old Ghan
The idea of a railway from Adelaide into the far north was suggested in the 1860s when railway building in Australia was at its peak. Up until that time, Australia's outback telegraph and pastoral stations relied on camel trains to bring their supplies, no matter how isolated or far away they were. These camel trains worked the Queensland road, which later became known as the Birdsville Track, as well as the Oodnadatta and Strzelecki Tracks.
The Spirit of Progress
The Spirit of Progress was the premier express passenger train on the Victorian Railways in Australia, running from Melbourne to the New South Wales border at Albury, and later through to Sydney. The service ushered in a standard of passenger train speed and comfort not previously seen in Australia.
The Newcastle Flyer
The Newcastle Flyer was an Australian passenger express train that operated from November 1929 until April 1988 connecting New South Wales' two largest cities, Sydney and Newcastle. On 1 May 1889 the first trains began running between Sydney and Newcastle. However, it was not until November 1929, with the pending completion of the Pacific Highway, that a premier express service was introduced. Two trains named the Inter City Express and the Northern Commercial Limited were introduced taking 2 hours 45 minutes to cover the 168 kilometres.
The Southern Aurora
The overnight Sydney-Melbourne express, the Southern Aurora, was one of the icons of Australian railways in the 1960s and 1970s. It conveyed passengers only between the starting and terminating points (although later in its life some limited intermediate traffic was allowed). Uniquely in Australia, it conveyed only First Class passengers, all of whom were accommodated in air-conditioned sleeping cars, all equipped with showers.