Sit back, relax and take your time: Why this trip is more about the journey than the destination

Yes, you can fly to Adelaide from Brisbane and it only takes a couple of hours – so why choose a journey that takes several days?

Jan 17, 2024, updated Jan 17, 2024
Everything is first class in the new Great Southern.(Imaage: Supplied)

Everything is first class in the new Great Southern.(Imaage: Supplied)

Because slow travel is all the rage right now. Ocean and river cruising has never been more popular internationally and rail is also huge. And we have the latest and greatest rail journey beginning right here in Brisbane, although Adelaide can claim the same thing, I guess.

The new iconic luxury Australian rail expedition is the Great Southern, run by Journey Beyond, which links the Queensland and South Australian capitals via a three-night journey south or a slightly shorter two-night journey north.

Journey Beyond has four rail offerings – The Ghan (Adelaide to Darwin) and the Indian Pacific (Sydney to Perth), both internationally renowned and loved by rail enthusiasts the world over. There is also The Overland connecting Melbourne and Adelaide but it’s the latest service, the Great Southern, now in its fifth season, that has been creating a buzz since launching in 2019.

The pandemic interrupted things but this Brisbane to Adelaide (and vice versa) route is booming, with weekly services booking solidly over its summer season (it runs December through February).

It’s the first new great Australian rail journey in a decade and on its slow progression across Australia’s south east, the Great Southern showcases picturesque regional countryside with both on and off train experiences.

Having just travelled from Brisbane to Adelaide, I can report that the whole thing is run with military precision. The staff are magnificent, the food is terrific (there are excellent chefs on board) and there’s troubadour Kev Jones supplying entertainment en route. And while the predominant market is still older travellers, more and more younger punters are becoming interested in slow travel experiences such as this, with prices from $2,455 per person for a Gold Twin cabin such as the one I travelled in.

The two-night, three-day northbound journey includes off-train experiences in the Grampians, Canberra and the New South Wales north coast before arriving into Brisbane.

The three-night, four-day southbound journey includes experiences on the north coast of New South Wales (dinner by the beach at Coffs Harbour), in the Hunter Valley and Newcastle, as well as excursions into Melbourne (the National Gallery of Victoria is one of the highlights) and regional Victoria along the way. Winery visits are one of the popular choices.

David Donald, Executive General Manager of Rail for Journey Beyond, says the Great Southern delivers the same level of service as The Ghan and Indian Pacific.

InQueensland in your inbox. The best local news every workday at lunch time.
By signing up, you agree to our User Agreement andPrivacy Policy & Cookie Statement. This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

“With all our trains, the real experience is the journey itself,” Donald says. “Each of our multi-day, all-inclusive train journeys is spectacular in its own right, from the passing scenery to the on-board hospitality and immersive Off Train Experiences that mean our guests can immersive themselves in the places they are travelling through. The on-board cuisine is also a highlight, with dishes reflecting the region the train is traversing.”

The train comprises 28 carriages and two locomotives and accommodates up to 232 guests across a range of Platinum and Gold cabins. The train bears a distinctive Eastern Grey kangaroo livery, rebadged from The Ghan – because this train is actually The Ghan on its months off.

The journey in Brisbane begins at historic, heritage-listed Hanworth House in East Brisbane, where guests check in and enjoy breakfast and a briefing before being bussed to the train at the Acacia Ridge Terminal, a freight hub that is not as picturesque as Roma Street. Then again, Roma Street simply cannot accommodate a train this long.

Whether arriving or departing, Brisbane is part of the journey and international tourists jetting in to experience what is becoming one of the world’s great rail journeys are exploring the city and the Gold and Sunshine Coasts and their hinterlands, which is a boost for tourism in South East Queensland.

Brisbane is of course a hot destination right now, even hotter since last week when The New York Times put the city on its list of 52 global locations to visit in 2024. None of the southern capitals made the cut.

With rail travel booming internationally, the Great Southern is expected to attract thousands of visitors to either begin or end their journey in Brisbane each year.


Local News Matters
Copyright © 2024 InQueensland.
All rights reserved.
Privacy Policy