Australia’s train service isn’t the most widespread or frequent in the world but it can be handy for linking up different parts of this huge country and seeing a bit of the varied landscape, if you don’t have time to cycle it all.
There are two types of train journeys: local services, primarily used by commuters to link up towns surrounding state capitals, and long-distance trips that run between states and across deserts.
Getting your bike on the commuter services between towns is generally very easy, provided you travel outside peak hours. It’s often free. Our experience in Perth was of modern trains, with easy access for bikes, even when you’re loaded down with panniers. You should be able to just show up and walk on.
Long-distance trips like the Indian Pacific, across the Nullarbor, take a little more planning.
Book tickets well ahead of time and consider whether or not to box your bike. Putting it in a bag or cardboard box will take time but save money. For long-distance journeys, bikes cost A$40 each to roll on and A$15 each if you box them.
That’s a per sector charge, so if you change trains, say to go from Perth to Adelaide and then on to Melbourne, be prepared to pay twice. If you’re lucky, the check-in staff may cut you a break. Smile nicely.
From our observation, bikes aren’t particularly gently handled. If there are several on the train, yours could be in the middle of a big pile. A little bubble wrap around the frame to prevent scratches and something around the derailleur is a good idea.
Once you’re on the train, you’ll find plenty of food on board in the dining cars but it’s predictably expensive so budget travellers will want to pack a picnic lunch. Read more about the Indian Pacific journey from Perth to Adelaide and The Overland service to Melbourne.