By Clair Morton
Published: Thursday, February 20, 2020
Visiting 4 states in 3 days. If an overseas visitor told you that was their plan for touring Australia, you’d likely (politely) tell them they were dreaming.
But it is possible to do, and in comfort. Through luxury train travel, Australia’s tyranny of distance dissolves into a carousel of 3-course meals, iconic sights and experiences, and a lullaby of sleeper carriages.
Nestled in an unassuming building in Keswick, the terminal feels more like a luxurious airport lounge than a train station. Mimosas are being poured, there’s an acoustic musician crooning in the corner, and check-in is a calm, relaxed affair.
Attendants float around offering light breakfast bites and the journey manager, Zafer Tasci, is going from table to table introducing himself.
He’s a fresh face in the industry, having moved over to railway journeys from the hotel business in August.
“I love travelling, I love experiential travel and seeing iconic places, and this is the [best] experiential travel company in Australia,” he says.
There is a magic in the air. And it’s romantic, the sense of adventure.
This is just the beginning of a trip on the Great Southern, the newest route offered by Journey Beyond.
While the Ghan takes you through the heart of Australia and the Indian Pacific makes traversing the remote Nullarbor a breeze, the new kid on the tracks winds its way along the eastern seaboard between Adelaide and Brisbane.
A friend and I have managed to secure spots on the Adelaide departure just before Christmas, and for the relaxed atmosphere, there’s a spark of excitement in the air.
Especially when the famous call comes: “All aboard!”
In no time at all, we’re introduced to our sleeping quarters for the next 3 days – a cosy little cabin consisting of a big window, side table, and a lounge which will be folded down into bunk beds at night.
As everyone settles in for the journey, the train starts to pick up speed. Destination: The Grampians.
Lying 460km east of Adelaide, the national park is one of the richest Indigenous rock-art sites in Victoria and boasts a banquet of natural beauty.
We’re looking forward to getting there, but it’ll take a little longer – on the day we leave the mercury exceeds 40 degrees, and as a precaution a cap has been put on the train’s maximum speed.