Riding The Indian Pacific

The Indian Pacific is a train that runs between Perth and Sydney, via Adelaide, across the Nullabor Plain. It takes 4 days/3 nights to go all the way, and just 3 and 2 to go as far as Adelaide (from Perth).

the indian pacific

To be honest I’d never heard of the Indian Pacific until my brother told me about it. A quick, cursory check of ticket prices didn’t fill me with much enthusiasm. The most basic ticket cost about $850 for a day/nighter seat (like an airplane seat that reclines a bit further), with the top end sleeper tickets (which included a lounge car and free food) running into the thousands.

one big train

But only a fool pays full price for a ticket in this day and age, and a quick cursory search found a standby ticket for just $256. Much more manageable. However, I didn’t stop there! Delving a bit further I found a 6 month pass for $590, that gave me unlimited travel on the Indian Pacific, The Ghan (from Adelaide, via Alice Springs/Ayers Rock, to Darwin), and The Overland from Adelaide to Melbourne. Since I needed to get to Melbourne (I’ve been asked to spend some time helping set up a yoga centre there), and then from there to Sydney, it seemed like the perfect solution (if a little time consuming – the journeys take days, often with an overnight stop off in between due to the schedules of the different services).

My train east left at 11:55am, or rather it should have. Actually, thanks to mechanical problems, it didn’t leave until 12:45, but better in Perth than in the middle of the Nullabor. At least we had good weather for our waiting (better than England or Germany anyway;)).

a warm winter (for me, anyway)

about to embark

But when you’re on a 3 day journey you don’t sweat the odd hour here and there. We were under way soon enough, and I said goodbye to West Australia for now.

The coach turned out to be quite nice, for a train. It had loos and showers at either end, the seats were a decent size, with plenty of leg room, and it just seemed to be a bit more spacious than it would have been if it was in the UK.

I was also pleased to find myself next to a nice chap called Joel, from the good ol’ US of A, for the trip east. I can’t imagine how it would have been to be sat next to someone more… well, loony, lol.

As well as the main car there was also a cafe car, which did a surprisingly decent salad roll and cup of tea for $10, and a lunge car which us second class mumblies could pay £15 to access for the duration of our trip. I leapt on that offer, as the whole trip in the one seat just didn’t seem feasible to me. Plus I needed somewhere to charge my phone and that, and the main carriage was woefully lacking in available sockets.

writing postcards in the lounge car

keeping yourself amused

In the end, when I wasn’t eating or sleeping, I spent most of the journey in the Red Gum Lounge. It was pretty empty most of the time, quite quiet, and you get the best views of the Nullabor Plain.

the nullabor, heading out of cook

the nullabor plain

The Nullabor (no arbor – no trees) is indeed plain, lol, as you can see from the pictures above. That’s why I spent most of my time reading, writing, and sorting through pictures on my laptop. And when I’d had enough of that for the day there was always the sunsets to enjoy.

second sunset on the indian pacific

evening reflections

But it wasn’t all just getting from A-B. We had a couple of stops along the way, to stretch our legs while the train refueled. The first was Kalgoorlie, the only large town on the Nullabor Plain, famous for it’s gold mine and… well, that’s about it really.

kalgoorlie, sunday, 11pm

We got there at 11pm at night. Normally they’d have a whistle-stop tour of the open cast gold mine, but because we left late that had been cancelled. So we got to go for a wander through the hub of activity that was Kalgoorlie at 11 o’clock on a Sunday night.

welcome to kalgoorlie

It wasn’t a complete loss. It was nice to go for a walk, and I managed to get some chips at a 24 hour cafe, but really it was good to get away again (at 1am) and get some kip.

The next rest-stop came in the middle of Monday, at a place called Cook. Again we had a bit of time to stroll about, have a good look at a former frontier town that was now pretty much empty.

adelaide, that way

queen city of the nullabor

open spaces

Apparently these days just two people live in Cook, and they’re just there to service the Indian Pacific. i don’t know if that’s true, I saw a few more people and houses than that, but it certainly felt true. There’s wasn’t much else. The school and hospital had closed down, and the only commerce seemed to be the pop-up gift shop, that sold all of two types of postcard.

get sick


the gift shop is now behind you

the old gaol

Still, it was nice to have a bit of a walk, and I got to do another headstand shot, so I’m not complaining. 🙂

18. indian pacific, cook, headstand

After Cook it was a straight run through to Adelaide, where I am now, and about which I’ll go into next time (including details of what I did on my birthday ;)). I was only meant to be here for a few days, as I was meant to go down to Melbourne to spend a month and a half helping set up a new yoga centre there, but they’ve hit some legal issues that need sorting out, so I’m stuck here for a while longer trying to find stuff to do (Adelaide is a bit quiet).

I go to Kangaroo Island on Monday for a couple of days, so hopefully I’ll be able to catch up with everything, that included, next Thursday when I get back to Adelaide. Friday I finally head down to Melbourne. If the centre’s not accessible by then I’ll go visit a friend near there for a week. And if it’s not ready after that… I dunno; Tasmania? I guess we’ll find out next week, eh?

Until then… 🙂


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