There’s a brand new train experience aboard the Great Southern from Adelaide to Brisbane — and it’s incredible!
I became a self-appointed train ‘expert’ after I whet my whistle travelling on the Indian Pacific from Adelaide to Perth a few years ago, and then fell deeper in love with train travel on board the iconic The Ghan from Adelaide to Darwin. So when I heard that Journey Beyond’s first premium rail experience spanning Australia’s south-east had just launched, I was on it.
This shiny new addition to internationally-renowned Aussie rail journeys offers the same exceptional service as both The Ghan and Indian Pacific. Tip: bring your stretchy pants because you’ll be dining like royalty on carefully curated regional menus in the Queen Adelaide Restaurant. You’ll relax in the bar, with a drink in hand, as you pass by gorgeous country towns, cities and wildlife. And with 28 carriages, Great Southern accommodates over 200 guests across Gold and Platinum cabins. I’ve been lucky enough to stay in both and they’re both fantastic. The Platinum bedrooms are next-level luxury — spacious, with super-comfortable double beds and large bathrooms with separate showers.
The two-night, three-day picturesque adventure is all-inclusive of meals and bevvies, including nightcaps delivered to your bedroom on demand (#livingthedream). It also includes a list of outstanding off-train excursions, giving you a bunch of outings to choose from in each location. Trust me, Journey Beyond makes sure that every excursion is bespoke and exciting. I loved them so much, I wrote a diary of our fun-filled off-train adventures in the Grampians, Canberra and Coffs Harbour.
Grampians National Park is nature at its finest — sandstone mountains, wildflowers and plenty of wildlife. As soon as we were escorted off the train by the super-friendly staff, (again, I felt like the Queen), our guide took us on an easy walk to Venus Baths in Halls Gap, where we took in the enormity of the giant rock formations and learnt about the rich history of the national park.
Venus Baths is where locals cooled down and bathed 100 years ago and depending on the time of year you visit, you might be able to put on your bathers and take a dip, too.
After our tour, dinner was served in a spectacular field decked out with a marquee, festoon lights and fun garden games. As the sun went down across the peaks of the Grampians, we kicked back with a local sparkling red and freshly-distilled ginger beer, wondering why we hadn’t visited this part of the world sooner.
Essentially we all own a piece of Parliament House, so why wouldn’t you visit at least once in your lifetime? Our guided tour included a delicious lunch in the Great Hall and a visit to the 30th-anniversary spectacular, Lego Parliament House. Made by Ryan ‘The BrickMan’ McNaught, from more than 150,000 bricks, we had a field day finding all the political titbits he’d included — Lego Larissa Waters breastfeeding in parliament, a couple of Lego people making out in the photocopier room, even a Lego journalist interviewing a tree. Who would have thought that Parliament House could make you lol?
Next stop, the National Gallery. With a revolving display of masterpieces from all over the world, as well as permanent pieces that you can enjoy all year round, this is an art lover’s dream. We spent the afternoon immersing ourselves in the works of Picasso and Japanese contemporary artist Yayo Ikusama.
After a winding bus trip up the mountains, we ended up at Sealy lookout. The thrill-seekers of the group took on the Skywalk overlooking Coffs Harbour, with its lush banana plantations, blueberry fields, stunning coastline and enormous mansions.
We were then whisked away to Coffs beachfront for morning tea. Journey Beyond doesn’t miss a beat, setting up a marquee exclusively for guests of Great Southern, with endless fruit platters, refreshments and an ice-cream cart. You can relax and socialise with your new friends or get sand between your toes and explore. We did both.
That afternoon, we arrived in sunny Brisbane, where you can either make your own arrangements to fly home to Adelaide or jump back on Great Southern the following day for more wild train adventures.
This brand-new expedition from Adelaide to Brisbane runs for three months over summer, with fares starting from $1779 per person for Gold Single accommodation, $1869 per person for Gold Twin and $3999 per person for Platinum. Jump over here to find out more.
We loved our journey on board the Great Southern and thanks to our friends at Flight Centre, you can enjoy the rail adventure of a lifetime too! For more details, visit your local Flight Centre Travel Expert or call 131600.