The Indian Pacific?...
A transcontinental train who travels across Australia East to West from Sydney to Perth:
December, 8th 2014
Average train speed with a maximum of 115 km/h
Not as fast as our French speed train! 300 km/h
775 m / 1400 t
Average train length and weight!
Journey lenght Sydney - Perth
3 nights and 4 days (stops & excursions along the way are part of the journey, it seems a long time but was actually too short!)
Indian Pacific in a 1 minute video:
A few dates that have made The Indian Pacific:
1917: After decades of debate between Australian states, a coast-to-coast rail line was completed. However the track was made up of three conflicting rail gauges, which necessitated a different train for each different section of line. As a consequence, passengers from Sydney to Perth had to switch between at tleast 5 trains to complete their journey! Not really straightforward..
1969: An uninterrupted rail line is completed and a competition is held for the public to give a name to the transcontinental train. Indian Pacific, by Henry Roach was the winner one.
2000: The Indian Pacific carries the Olympic flame from Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta.
For a return journey Sydney-Perth :
58 000 litres of diesel
3000 litres of water for each carriage
2 locomotives which cost approximately $100,000 to operate
$65,000 in fees to access and use the rail tracks
$40,000 in maintenance and services costs
The Indian Pacific covers 539 648 kilometres, this is equivalent to travelling around the world 13 times!
Aboard the Queen Adelaide Restaurant, 715,000 dishes are served!
In the kitchens, they use on average :
30,000 litres of milk
7,000 kg of tomatoes
28,000 cans of Coke
1,100 litres of extra virgin olive oil!
22,000 bottles of wine
And so, what do we do for 65 hours ?
Take in the wonderful views while the landscapes go through your window...
Travelling aboard the Indian Pacific will promise you a memorable trip across the land Down Under. Along the 4352 kilometre from East to West, I never stopped being amazed by the views over this great country. Right after leaving Sydney and its skyscrapers, the train makes its way across the stunning Blue Mountains National Park. The sun is setting slowly as we travel through, this is a show I won't soon forget!
What's sure is that the rails are not straight on this first portion of the journey! Turns and more turns, the locomotive and its 30 carriages serpentine across the valleys and green rolling hills. We go to bed with this bucolic backdrop without even thinking that we will be waking up the next morning in the middle of the red outback of Broken Hill! Spinifex country has replaced the green grass and dairy farms.
A few hours later, the train is now going through the wheat fields of South Australia. A thunderstorm is approaching and the sky darkens, a superb contrast to photograph!
Soon before South Australia's and Western Australia's border, the train starts its journey on the longest straight stretch of railway in the world! 478 kilometres with absolute no turn! We have breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea...we are still on a straight line, same backdrop, the imense plains of the Nullarbor! Not a single tree to be seen, just red dirt and spinifex. Nullarbor comes indeed from Latin and means “No tree”... These plains are famous as they are the world's largest single exposure of limestone bedrock spanning 200,000 square kilometres!
Finally, the train arrives into Perth region: valley, river, trees and vegetation are back! Almost shocking after crossing the Nullarbor!
By the end of the trip, we feel like we have crossed 5 different countries at least!!
Australia will never stop amazing me.
Feast upon the delicious food served aboard
Something's sure, when you travel in Gold or Platinium Class, you will not be starving! Your trip is cadenced by the generous and yummy meals! A table!
We didn't expect to encounter such a great cuisine, fined and sophisticated aboard the trains of the Great Southern Rail, I know I won't forget this delicious Bluberries muffins for breakfast, such a treat!
Get to know your fellow travellers
On board, people on holiday, celebrating a special occasion or simply retired enjoying their freedom! Most of them are Australians and have decided to explore their own backyard. Sharing stories with other mates while drinking a beer is the way to go!
Every meal, its suprise, who are we going to share the table with? It's always a great moment shared with fellow travellers. Atmosphere is good and laid back, it was a bit funny sometimes as the people travelling aboard the people are mainly retired and it was a bit surprising for them to see us there! A young French couple...!
Cheers at the Explorer Lounge
The Explorer lounge is almost open during all the journey. Fancy having a beer while watching sunset? Easy done! Not a problem is you are more into cocktails! Haha the drinking menu is extensive, and what surprised me a lot it that most of the drinks are included in your fare ( in Gold and Platinium), so enjoy the ride :-)
Sleep on the rails
While we go to the restaurant for dinner, our cabin is mysteriously converted in a room...how magic is that?!? Such a delight to come back in and found a cozy bed customised with the colours of the trains. Ok the first night will be a bit hectic. You need to get used to the noises and movements of the carriages, not bang into the walls, but no to worry, the following nights will be deep! And nothing is like waking up in the middle of the Australian bush with a stunning sunrise. Light is beautiful, a new amazing day can start!
Discovering two iconic Australian outback towns:
Broken Hill (the Silver City)
What makes the journey even more unforgettable are the excursions organised along the track.
A great way to visit places that maybe you would have never got the chance to!
First stop, Broken Hill, a place full of history, unfortunately often to remote to be visited by international tourists. The good news is that the Indian Pacific stops there for a couple of hours.
Just the time to go explore the city centre on your own walking through the main street, discovering the mining heritage of the town. Mining is still a major economic driver.
You may also get on a bus and wander to Broken Earth, a Miner's Memorial located at the highest point of the Line of Lode
( remnant mullock dumps that traverse the city). From there, you have the best views over town and learn about the 800 miners who lost their lives working in the Broken Hill mines...
Or you may choose to visit the art scene of this city and more specifically the very interesting Pro Hart Gallery, a local artist who spent his whole life painting about typical scenes of Broken Hill. A talented man who left a vast collection of painting and sculptures. I like discovering the town through his own art.
An interesting place.
Kalgoorlie (“the Gold City”)
First time I heard about Kalgoorlie was two years ago as I was watching a documentary on French TV. I never imagined to be there one day! I think it's false to say that you have seen Australia until you have been confronted to the Super Pit. A shock...In the middle of nowhere, among the flat arid plains of the west, the train stops. The sun went down already and I can't take my eyes off all the lights on the near mountain...Mountain, here? I understand quickly that the lights are those belonging to the massive trucks working unceasingly in the gold mine!
Just off the train that we jump on a bus, which takes us to the Super Pit, the largest gold mine in the country that is approximately 3.6 km long, 1.5 km wide and exceeds 500 metres deep! I'm standing there in front ot that and I had a weird feeling to be watching the guts of the Earth...
Gold was firstly discovered here in 1893. By 1900, the population has grown to 25,000 ranked Kalgoorlie as one of the largest cities in Australia at the time.
This open-cut gold mine has been operating 24/7 since 1989! Standing in front of this hive of activity makes me realise how big the mining business is in Australia.
This mine boosts itself all the economy of Western Australia!
Visiting Hannah's North Tourist Mine museum is another shock. We find ourselves next to super trucks, measuring 7 metre high and 12 metres long!! We have the impression to be playmobiles with our helmets! We learn a few facts...Changing a tyre of this super truck costs $42 000 and will last not more than 8 months if used everyday. To fill its tank costs the modest sum of $4 800...
In short, everything is disproportionate here!!
Stop along the way to visit South Australia
Why being in a hurry all the time? We made the decision to go off the train in Adelaide and spend a a week in the region. We drove to the Eyre Peninsula and met sea lions, great white sharks and saw many salt lakes like the stunning Lake Gairdner located in the Gawler ranges National Park!
Read more about our exhilarating trip here.
One week later, same platform, same time, the train was waiting for us to continue its journey to the west.
The Indian Pacific behind the scene!
> Meet Christian, Hospitality attendant at Great Southern Rail
You're French, how long have you been living in Australia?
19 years, already!
Why did you come to Australia to live?
Working and living abroad must be a family thing! My dad used to be an expat all his career. I should have got this from him! After my studies, I went to the Middle East, Qatar, after a few years, I flew to the Bermudes! I worked there for a while and one day I felt like I needed more room and great outdoors...I remembered my holidays in Australia and thought it could be a nice place to live in.
At this stage, 20 years ago, immigration rules were pretty different and the quotas were not that restricted. I complied with the paperwork and thanks to my hospitality background, I got my working visa quickly and easily.
I heard that this has changed and it much more complicated today...I was lucky!
Where do you live?
I'm based in Adelaide, which is the easiest when you work with Great Southern Rail, because it's the city where all the trains of the company come through.
How long have you worked with the company?
For a bit more than one year now.
Where did you work before that?
I worked in all the nice and gourmet restaurants in Adelaide.
Today, I share my time between my job aboard the trains and my position at the Parliament House 's restaurant in Adelaide.
How did you find this position for the GSR?
Actually, I was working with someone who worked already aboard the trains. She kept saying that I would love it! So I applied and she helped me out.
For those reading this and interested, keep in mind that every year between March and July (before their peak season), they hire about 20 new staff for the season. This is the good timing to apply:-)
Are you working on both trains (the Ghan Indian Pacific) ? If yes, do you have a favourite?
Yes I work on both, I don't really have a preference. Each train has its personality if I can say!
The journey is also very different. I just like doing the Indian Pacific as we have 24h break in Perth in between two trips. Perth is a great city!
What do you love the most in working on the rails?
It's less stressful than working in a classic restaurant. Aboard, our guests are on holidays, they are here to enjoy and relax.
I also like the fact that I can visit the country while working:-) I never get enough of watching sunrises and sunsets over the Australian bush.
In addition, it's a cool job as I get to meet new people of every trip.
Is that not to difficult to keep a social life at home?
My family is still in France, so I'm used not to seeing them often. Then, I'm not married and have no kid, which make things easier for this kind of work!
Worst situation aboard?
The night we had to wait for hours in the middle of nowhere for an ambulance to come and pick a very sick passenger up. We stopped the train and set a fire to be visible, we were in the Nullarbor plain.
A quirky situation/ story?
Aboard the Ghan, we got stuck in Alice Spring because of a preceding train. We had to spend the night in the town. It was stressful as we had a lot to handle and organize quickly for more than 250 passengers: connection flights for people awaited in other places etc. At the end, it was a different experience and I remember a wonderful dinner under the stars in the outback, was great and memorable for sure!
Have you ever served an Australian celebrity aboard?
Yes! For the 10 year anniversary of the full Ghan journey (Adelaide-Darwin), James Reyne, the singer, was aboard the train and sang. A deputee MP was also part of this special trip.
A concert was given in the desert, it was fantastic!
And...do you often come across French tourists aboard?
Not very often actually! Maybe one couple per trip (there are on average 250 guests per trip)
Would you say these trains are well known in France?
Last year, a documentary about the Ghan was filmed by the first public TV channel in France. It did the news. It was a great advertising! I'd say that the Ghan is the most famous of both in France.
We love travelling by train! Time aboard goes always too quickly, for the Ghan was the same story! I think I fall in love with train travels, where we can appreciate time, landscapes and simply the good life!
A relaxing way to travel across the great and vast outdoors of Australia. The Great Southern Rail offers a wonderful experience, a perfect mix of gastronomy, cultural and historical discoveries and meetings. Génial! :-)
More infos: www.greatsouthernrail.com.au
To learn more about Adelaide:
To learn more about our Ghan Journey:
A Grand Merci to Melanie, Steve and all the wonderful Indian Pacific staff!
If you like this post, spread the word and share the love !