I Put The Iconic Indian Pacific Train’s Platinum Class To The Test!

I Put The Iconic Indian Pacific Train’s Platinum Class To The Test!

The Indian Pacific is one of the most famous and costliest train journeys in the world, travelling 2,700 miles (4,352 kilometres) between Sydney and Perth Australia. So, I had very high expectations, but before we even got on board, I started to have concerns. Things were going wrong which would have been fine if it was just me and my partner travelling, but we had booked two cabins in the premium Platinum class carriages to take my mother-in-law on a special once-in-a-lifetime trip for her 80th birthday. Adding even more pressure for this to be perfect.

First, we were told a week before departure that we would no longer leave from Sydney due to work in the station, and we’d be bussed to join it in Lithgow, which looking online I saw was a few hours’ drive away. This meant missing an afternoon on the train.

Then, as we were in Platinum, we had transfers included from where we were staying to the station, but I struggled to contact the company doing that. When I did make contact, they had no record of us.

Indian Pacific Train – Wednesday

After much stress and going back and forth, I eventually got that sorted and we headed off on our pickup towards Sydney train station.

Once at the station, there were two check-in areas. One for Gold, and another for Platinum. The Indian Pacific has two classes, with Gold having double and single cabins and Platinum having the larger premium ones that we’d booked.

There are rules around luggage, and only a carry-on bag (plus an item like a rucksack) can be taken onto the train. So our larger cases were checked in and only accessible at the end of our trip. We had made sure we had enough clothes and so on in our carry-on bags.

After checking in, we headed into a restaurant on the platform that had been taken over for Indian Pacific guests. A decent buffet lunch, with drinks, coffees, teas, and hot chocolate was available. Over the next hour or so, they briefed us on what was going to be happening.

Around 2pm, the original departure time, we were taken out to the buses, which set off for Lithgow. Two and a half hours later we arrived at Lithgow just as the Indian Pacific train was coming into the station.

It was a familiar sight, as I have been on The Ghan run by the same company, Journey Beyond Rail, and the carriages look the same.

We excitedly jumped on board, starting to forget the inconvenient beginning, and saw our Platinum carriages for the first time. We had booked two double carriages, one for Sally and one for us next door.

Our first thoughts were that it was a good-sized cabin, with double seats that are turned into a bed at night. A cosy bathroom with shower and premium Appelles toiletries.

One thing we only realised later was there was only one electric socket in the cabin. We had to charge phones in rotation.

There was a plate of cheese and biscuits waiting for us. The attendant came around introducing herself and offering sparkling wine. When we told her none of us drink alcohol, she brought a non-alcoholic sparkling wine alternative, which was rather nice. More on non-alcoholic wines later.

Dining Set-Up

Quite soon afterwards, we set off and it was dinner time. This was to be the only dinner that we ate on the train, as the next two nights of the trip dinners were off train.

Let me explain the dining set up. Platinum guests use a combined lounge and dining carriage. Each of these can hold 30 people.

On our trip there were 47 Platinum passengers.  One set of Platinum carriages ate in one of those carriages, which was full of 30 people. Our set of carriages only had 17 people, so we had even more space in the lounge and dining area.

As we sat down to dinner, we got some glimpses out the windows of just how huge this train is as we twisted and turned around corners. I asked and was told our train was over 800 metres long, that’s twice around a running track, had 29 carriages and was carrying 233 guests and 48 crew.

At dinner, there was decent amount of choice and it was delicious. I discovered that Gold and Platinum have the same menu, and it doesn’t change much over time. So, you are likely to have the same menu as we did if you go on this train.

There was a small appetiser of cod, then a choice of three starters including kangaroo loin, which we felt we had to have. It was okay but wouldn’t hurry back to have it.

I had Grilled Pacific Ocean Swordfish for my main course as I’ve seen people recommend it on videos I watched. I could have had Beef Fillet or Vegetable Moussaka. For dessert we all had the Cherry, Apple and Blueberry Galette not the Banoffee Pie.

We were tired after our travels, so we headed off to bed. Returning to our cabin, it had been turned down and the double beds had been made, with chocolates and bathrobes left out.

We set our clocks back 30 minutes to be on Adelaide time. As Perth is 3 hours behind Sydney this was the first of several time changes.

Indian Pacific Train – Thursday

I slept well on the train. However, most people, including Mark and Sally, and even the crew, did not as the leg between Sydney and Adelaide has bumpy tracks as it winds up through the mountains. The train average speed is 52 miles per hours (82km/h), so it does bounce along.

We had to wake up early, around 6am for our first stop in the mining town of Broken Hill. All the 1.5 hour off-train tours ran before breakfast.

Off-Train Experiences

In all grades, the fare includes all off-train experiences, and guests get to choose from a selection of five in the towns called on. We had decided, although Broken Hill is a major mining town and there were various mining and art related tours, to take the Shelita Buffet Drag Queen walking tour of Broken Hill.

The reason for having a drag queen tour is Broken Hill is one of the key locations for the famous “Priscilla Queen of the Desert” movie. Telling the story of drag queens travelling from Sydney to Alice Springs.

Waste of $8,300? I Put The Iconic Indian Pacific Train To The Test!

It was a fun and fascinating tour, as the town has a rich and at times dramatic history of mining, train travel and the labour movement.

We then jumped back onto the train for our first breakfast.

Again, another good menu. Sally had scrambled eggs and trout and Mark and I, as for all breakfasts on this trip, had the full cooked breakfast. There was also a fresh berries and seasonal fruit with granola option.

We then spent the rest of the morning relaxing. In addition to an early start, it was going to be a pretty busy afternoon and evening in Adelaide.

We headed to lunch about two hours before the 3pm arrival into Adelaide.

Drinks Included

By the way, all the meals and all drinks are included for all classes and one thing I noticed was just how large the wine list is on board, reflecting both that the Adelaide region is a key wine district, but of course that Australia is famous for wines. They even had four non-alcoholic wines: white, red, rosé, and that sparkling wine. We tried the rosé at lunch but were less keen on that.

I had the Grape Picker’s Lunch, which is a bit like a Ploughman’s Salad back in the UK. The other options were chicken salad and spinach quesadilla. Mark and Sally had the coconut ice cream with Oreo cookie for dessert and I had the hazelnut chocolate tart.

The train stopped briefly outside Adelaide to drop everyone heading off on the two wine tours to McLaren Vale or Barossa Valley.

We pulled into the station in Adelaide around 3pm. The Journey Beyond Rail company has a dedicated and purpose-built station here as it’s used by all their trains, including The Ghan which runs between Darwin and Adelaide. The Great Southern running between Brisbane and Adelaide and the Overland running between Adelaide and Melbourne. In fact, when we came in, some of the Ghan carriages were also there.

We had booked the tour to Adelaide Central Market and headed off the train to join the tour bus. Here was another Platinum perk as there were allocated seats in the front.

The Adelaide Central Market tour was fascinating, and one of the best markets I think I’ve been to anywhere. There were loads of food and drink stalls, and we got to sample many different products across the different stalls. We spent time exploring that with our guide and then had some free time before we had to head outside as the market was closing.

We had drinks, snacks, and entertainment outside before heading back into the market where one stall had tables laid out for dinner.

There were tables set aside for Platinum guests, and we got an extra course of lobster tails too versus the Gold passengers.

When we went in there was a wine tasting set up at each place setting, which I thought strange as few did the wine tasting. I assumed most people had chosen this tour over a wine estate tour because they didn’t want to drink wine.

There was a lot of food and we got to meet and chat to fellow travellers, making it a fun evening.

Back Onboard

We then headed back to the train around 8:30pm, spending around five and a half hours altogether in Adelaide. I had planned to buy lots of merchandise in the shop in the station, but it was a little bit disappointing and bought nothing.

We boarded the train and soon headed to bed after a long and tiring day.

The good news was there was a 1.5-hour time change, meaning more sleep as we put our clocks back. There was one more hour time change tomorrow night too.

Everybody slept way better, as the tracks are much smoother on this leg. Also, what’s interesting to note, is after we left Adelaide, we only had one engine pulling the train. There were two between Sydney and Adelaide as it is a mountainous area and needed more pulling power.

Indian Pacific Train – Friday

I woke up relatively early and sat in bed watching the fascinating scenery going past, with a cup of tea. At the end of the carriage was a coffee and tea making facility, so that’s where I had convinced Mark to get me a cup from!

We then headed off for breakfast, which had a larger menu than yesterday. I had the wild berry, river mint and natural yoghurt as starter, Mark had a selection of cereals from the long list.

We all then followed that with the full cooked breakfast. The other options were a Smoked Ham Frittata, or Baked Banana Slice.

After that, we relaxed for a few hours. Though on this leg there was a musician on board who moved between each of the lounge cars, ran a trivia in each and played some music. So, we played trivia and did so badly. We missed out on the merchandise prize for the winners.

Gold Carriages

We then decided to explore the Gold carriages and lounge. The Gold lounge, which was very busy.

Looking at the various Gold carriages, they looked dated, but I discovered in an article in the on-board magazine they are all being redone and phased in, which they did need.

We relaxed a bit more and then it was soon time for lunch.

I had the Ploughman’s Plate, so a similar meal to yesterday. We also discovered you can go a bit off menu as Sally didn’t want a full meal and just ordered a toasted sandwich. Mark decided to be bold and have the camel curry, which he didn’t really like. The choice none of us had was the halloumi and roasted vegetable salad.

Just as we finished our main course, we pulled in to the town of Cook. It’s now a deserted ghost town, but was built in 1917 as a small town where people maintaining the train tracks lived. We only stopped here for around 40 minutes. Like many guests, I really wanted to go and see the front of the train and the engine. So, we walked the length of this huge train to get there.

We took some pictures and by then it was time to walk back to our carriage. I didn’t get to explore the ghost town of Cook, which is unfortunate.

We re-boarded the train but decided to not have the dessert which was a choice of baked apple pie and ice cream or salted caramel macadamia nut ice cream.

We spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing, including trying another of the non-alcoholic wines, the white this time. Didn’t really like that much either.

While we were doing that, we asked our attendant to put our bed down, and had a nap, waking up in time for our arrival into Rawlinna, which is so remote it is five hours drive from the nearest town of Kalgoorlie. The station borders the largest sheep station in the world with 80,000 sheep across a staggering 2.5 million acres.

This was another off-train experience – dinner next to the train at the station. Rows of tables had been laid out, with dedicated ones for Platinum.

We had a great meal outside chatting to more Platinum guests we had not met yet, as the musician played. I found out that the food is cooked on the train in a restaurant carriage allocated for the task.

In cold months between April to September, guests only have drinks outside and eat dinner back on the train. So, in winter you do have two dinners not just one on the train like we did.

One interesting fact about today is that we had been travelling on the longest stretch of straight railway lines in the world, as it heads through the Nullarbor Plain. The line runs in a straight line for a staggering 297 miles (478km)!

Once back on board we had our third and final night sleeping on the train.

Indian Pacific Train – Friday

I had a good night’s sleep, which everybody else did again – the less bumpy tracks helping.

I was up early and had a nice cup of tea in bed. Though this time I fetched it myself as I was unable to convince Mark to do the honours.

We all headed off to breakfast, and there was a different menu. I had the Chai Bircher to start, Mark had cereal again. Mark and I went for the full cooked breakfast, which again was delicious, but could have had avocado on sweet potato toast or croque madame.

We then relaxed for most of the morning. Watching the scenery go by as it changed from very remote to slowly more built up.

Then it was time for yet another meal before our arrival into Perth!

Another good range of choice and we all had Grilled Fremantle Jewfish Fillet, again something I had seen recommended as one of their iconic dishes. The other options were Chicken Caesar Salad or roasted cauliflower salad. We all had the baked chocolate brownie rather than the healthier fruit platter!

We then pulled into Perth mid-afternoon, got off the train, picked up our waiting large suitcases, and met the driver for our included transfer to the hotel we had booked in Perth.

Indian Pacific Train – Final Thoughts

A couple of final thoughts now about this iconic but expensive trip.

Going in Platinum cost us US $8,300 (UK £6,600) per cabin, that’s about $2,000 per day so it is a crazy expensive trip.

The train is great, and I liked the look of it. Though, as you’ve seen, it is probably not as plush as I had expected for the price. But it was comfortable, cosy and felt special. The food was good. The crew were helpful and friendly.

I found the Platinum experience good overall. The cabins are big enough to relax in versus the more confined Gold, and the less busy lounge and dining also added as we did use them a lot as you heard.

The other thing I wanted to talk about is the dress code. It’s very informal, a very relaxed dress code. Unlike when I’ve been on other trains like Rovos Rail in South Africa, which was smarter.

Would I go on another experience on one of these Journey Beyond Rail trips? Absolutely as we soon forgot the hiccups at the start. Though I need to start saving for that now!


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