Indian Pacific Train

Indian Pacific engineThe Indian Pacific is one of Australia’s great train journeys, taking passengers from Perth in the far west all the way to Sydney on the east coast over the course of 3 days.

It leaves on Wednesday and Sunday going west to east and Saturday and Wednesday in the other direction.

For cyclists, the train is a useful way to link Western Australia with places like Adelaide, Melbourne and Tasmania, without pedalling the hot and dusty plains of the Nullarbor.

It’s often more expensive than flying (expect to pay A$250-300 for the cheapest seat) but next to cycling, it’s the best way to experience the arid and expansive landscape. With more cash to splash, you can upgrade from the standard reclining seat to a sleeper bed or a private cabin.

Discounts are available for students and YHA card holders.

Book well ahead of time during Christmas and school holidays, when the train gets packed out.

Bicycles are easy to take on the train, at a cost of A$40 for an unboxed bike and A$15 if you can package it before you board. This cost is per sector, which means that if you go from Perth to Adelaide and then transfer trains to continue to Melbourne, you’ll pay twice for your bike, even if you book the train ticket at one time.

You could get lucky and the check-in agent may kindly overlook your bicycle. Cross your fingers!

You also get 40kg of checked luggage allowance (2 bags of 20kg each). Although our bags came in below the weight allowance, we couldn’t reduce our 8 panniers plus tent into just 4 bags so we left the front panniers on the bicycles and this was no problem.

The bikes aren’t exactly pampered in the cargo car so a bit of bubble wrap or other protection around the frame is a good idea.

On board the train, we were surprised to find showers, towels and cold drinking water provided for free.

There are electrical plugs in the dining car to recharge things like laptops and music players but a surge protector is recommended.

For food, you can either eat from the restaurant with things like sandwiches, soups and pasta. Prices for coffee are fair (A$2.35) but food portions are small and on a cyclist’s appetite you could spend a lot. Packing a picnic lunch or at least some snacks is recommended. Bringing your own alcohol is not permitted.

In your overnight bag, consider packing a light blanket for the night, as the air conditioning can be cool, and a travel pillow to help you sleep comfortably. An eye mask is good if you want to sleep at odd times or will be bothered by low lighting in the cabin throughout the night.

Earplugs are another worthy item, to block out the cheesy music that’s piped into the cabin periodically. And don’t forget plenty of books or other distractions to make the time go faster.

Make sure you carry all valuables when you leave the train to stretch your legs at lengthy stops in places like Kalgoorlie and Cook. Things can go missing while you’re touring the town.

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