Review: Indian Pacific Train from Sydney to Perth

Now that I’ve blogged my way from Sydney to Perth via the Indian Pacific Railway, I thought I’d provide a summary review of the trip.

How long is the train trip?
Three nights and three and some days. I departed on Saturday at 2:55PM from Sydney and arrived in Perth at 9:10AM on Tuesday.

How much did it cost?
The trip set me back about $1200. It was expensive. In retrospect, however, trying to drive across Australia would have taken longer and probably cost just as much when you factor in the car hire, the fuel, the food, and lodging.

Which service did you take?
I opted for the Gold Service. Platinum service was not offered and I really don’t think it would have been necessary. Red service provided chairs only or chairs that reclined, however they were in general cars. Red service is obviously cheaper, but does not include privacy, drinks, meals, or off train tours.

What is included in gold service?
I purchased a single gold cabin. I have a cabin with a chair and footrest, a large picture window, a trash can, a mini closet, a speaker system that plays music or the history of the areas we are passing [there are 6 channels], a small vanity, and a sink. In the evenings, my chair turned down a bed comes down from the wall. There are bathrooms and showers a few doors down from my room. Gold service also includes all drinks [non-alcoholic as well as about 20 wines, 8 beers, and hard liquor] as well as all meals. I also have access to a lounge car and a bar for Gold patrons. Finally, gold service includes off train excursions in the towns where the train stops; these include: Broken Hill, Adelaide, Cook, and Kalgoorlie.

How were the meals?
The meals were delicious. Breakfast was a two course meal and lunches and dinners were three course meals. Menus changed each day according to the area we were passing through in an effort for folks to try out more “local” dishes. Vegetarian options were always offered. Seafood and lamb seemed to be plentiful. You have set eating times that are scheduled via your car attendant. You show up to the lounge around your eating time and you can relax with a drink before the host will come get you [typically in groups of 4] and seat you.

How were the tours?
The tours were nice. It was great to just jump off the train and get whisked away by a professional tour guide who could talk about the history of the town and point out the various areas of interest. Most of the stopovers are very brief, so don’t expect a ton. However, as someone who was simply interested in a quick info session, it worked well.

What is the age group on the train?
The majority of the folks on the train range from probably early 50s and up. I was actually surprised that there were not younger people, but from what I gather, most backpackers travel in Red Service.

What is the dress code?
The dress on the train is “nice and neat”, I would say. I felt a bit underdressed some days and right at home other days. Because I was traveling to Indonesia after and going to be biking, I packed really lightly, so I didn’t have many options with me. I would suggest jeans, capris, or other pants with a nice top for girls and jeans or khakis with a button down or polo for guys. Like I said, not everyone was dressed this way, but it seemed to be the normal. Shoes- I haven’t really noticed. I brought a simple pair of sandals [not flip flops] and wore them for every meal.

Can you fly into Sydney and take the train on the same day?
It depends. I landed in Sydney at 6:30AM or so on Saturday morning. In the winter season, the Indian Pacific runs twice a week; departing once on Wednesday and once on Saturday [so I lucked out].  The train departed Central Station at 2:55PM. I had plenty of time between my flight and the train departure; I even had time to talk to the Sydney Opera House and grab lunch. I also made sure to check out the train station and figure out where I was going to have to be to board beforehand. That helped a lot.

Is it easy to get from the Sydney International Airport to the Train Station?
Yes. Definitely. See my earlier post on the Sydney Public Transportation Train. It costs about $16AUD to go from the airport to the train station. Indian Pacific is stationed at Central Station; a great location because every train line in the city goes through Central, so no matter where you are, you can easily get to Central Station. Central Station is about a 10-minute train ride from the Sydney International Airport. If you have questions, ask an Aussie- they’re really helpful and friendly!

How about outlets, Internet, and cell service?
There are outlets in your cabin. Make sure you have an international plug to use with the outlet [110 volts]. There is no Internet service on the train; sorry! Cell service was decent for most of the trip, except when we hit the desert on the third day. My advice: don’t stress it. Relax, put your feet up, and enjoy the ride.

 Would you do it again?
Absolutely. To me, it was an absolutely fantastic way to see Australia. It also gave me an opportunity to see places that I want to come back and visit [Adelaide] and sparked my interest in taking one of the other trains run by the same company [Adelaide to Darwin, for example].  I hope I can convince Andrew to take a trip here with me J

Have other questions? Feel free to ask and I’m happy to answer. It was a great time and I would honestly rank it about 4.75 stars out of 5. I think it would be nice to have lunch in my cabin sometimes [you can do this with Platinum service], but it was nice to meet new people and have a nice chat. Also, please note that there are cabins that sleep more than one person, I was just traveling by myself, so I took advantage of the single cabin. The larger cabins look very nice as well and everyone I talked to enjoyed them quite a bit!

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