Perth August & December 2018 - Day 22

The Indian-Pacific Train from Perth: At Last


Four months earlier, in August, we had set out for Sydney to take the 3-day train excersion across Australia from Sydney to Perth. The day before our departure we were told the train had been cancelled. A freight train out of Perth had ripped up several kilometres of track and the Indian-Pacific train was tranded in Perth. But we were determined, so we rebooked for the first week of December, before the Nullabor Plain became unbearably hot. This time we flew directly to Perth and all went well. We arrived at the Perth East station and there she was - the gleaming Indian-Pacific train with all the train staff lined up in their classy Akubra "Traveller" hats. We walked towards the back of the train and found our carriage and cabin, right next to the cafe/bar car. How convenient we thought, but maybe also a bit noisy. After a few hours the convenience won out and there was very little disturbance from people walking past.

The trip takes 4 days and 3 nights. The original train journey was the only way to get across Australia but with the rise of cheap(ish) air travel the train is now strictly for tourists. To cater for tourists the train has plenty of cafe/bar cars, 3 restaurants with excellent food, live music on occasions and several stops with off-train excursions included. We found some of the excursion to be excellent, but the stop at Kalgoorlie, late in the evening was a bit of a waste. However the train needed to stop there so the operators needed to do something with all the passengers.

The price included unlimited bar service and all meals. Some reviewers had commented on the Australian's ability to drink free grog (mostly beer) for 4 days and 3 nights continuously but we did not experience this at our end of the train. The drinks were well received and the food was excellent, much better than you might have expected from a narrow kitchen/galley on a train.

Train: Day 1 - Perth to Kalgoorlie

Departure time was 10.00am so we left Miss Maud's Hotel early after another of her wonderful buffet breakfasts, hailed a taxi and we were soon at the east Perth rail terminal. We checked in our bags, hoisted our small carry-ons with everything we needed for the next 3 nights and walked through the terminal to find the train. Boarding had not commenced so we walked to the head of the train to examine the engine, and the carriages of cars. Yes, you can bring your own car. Our cabin was towards the rear so after a long walk we boarded, sat down and stared at the other passengers wandering past wondering if they would ever get to their cabin. At 1000 we were off, through the suburbs of Perth' and then into the farming areas before with houses and people becoming rare sights.

After we had checked the quality of the bubbly (good) it was time for lunch - the first of many great meals. Before long it was dinner and then after dark we rolled into Kalgoorlie. Kalgoorlie exists only for the mines, but at 11 at night it is difficult to see much of it. A drive-by in a bus, a view of the huge open pit (not working) and then the museum and to the huge machinery used in the pit.

Our train should be waiting here
But not this one...
That's better...
The ultimate in carry-on luggage - your own car.
Its a long way to the front..
and back!
This would be our door here
The narrow corridor with all the cabins on one side
Our cabin
Our carriage is marked for preservation
They still have dual guage rails in WA.
As we headed out of Perth we passed many Jacaranda trees
Then were were into the country and eventually some bush
Last glimpse of civilisation
Dried up lakes

Kalgoorlie at midnight

Kalgoorlie is a mining town 595km northeast of Perth. It was founded in 1889 and soon expanded when gold was discovered. The train needs to make a fuel and food stop here so passengers are offered a night-time tour of the town and mining pit. After a quick tour of the town to peer at the historic buildings in the dark, the excursion moves on to the Hannans NorthTourist Mine, now a museum. We were entertained by live performance of Paddy hannan finding gold and then a chance to climb on a huge truck and shovel, before heading back to the train.

Hannans North Tourist Mine at night
Mr Hannan finding gold...
And how they dig it up today
The Super Pit at night - 1.5km wide and 600m deep.

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Last updated: 17/02/2019