The excellent food, drink and facilities onboard the Indian Pacific are a high point of this epic 4,352 km long trans-continental trip.
A few weeks back I shared some of the wonderful off-train experiences that are available for passengers on the Indian Pacific, one of the great train journeys of the world. In between hopping off the train to enjoy signature Australian experiences we kicked back, enjoying life onboard the Indian Pacific, the comfort of our cabin and the Outback Explorer lounge – but most especially the dining car, The Queen Adelaide Restaurant.
The Gold Service cabins are surprisingly accommodating. There is no shortage of power points for keeping various devices charged, the comfortable bench seat leaves plenty of room for sprawling and the compact bathroom manages to include everything you could need, including a toilet, basin, shower, fresh towels and excellent quality toiletries.
And every evening, magically, while the passenger is at dinner the seating converts to two comfortable beds, made up with fine quality linen.
As a Gold or Platinum passenger onboard the Indian Pacific, your ticket price covers all of your food and drink, including alcohol, and this aspect of the train experience is clearly one to which Great Southern Rail has paid a lot of attention.
The Outback Explorer lounge is a very popular spot at any time of the day or evening – and not just because of the bar and the friendly engaging staff behind it. Certainly the wines and beer on offer are of excellent quality, plus there is a selection of standard spirits available.
There are supplies of playing cards and board games available there, but I never saw them being used. Instead, what I saw was new best-friendships being forged as strangers exchanged stories and created new ones on this extraordinary trip. The age range among the passengers was enormously varied, (there was even a family with two young children aboard) but presented no barriers for lively, laughter-filled conversations across the generations.
Unsurprisingly, meal times were of particular interest to me and the charming Queen Adelaide Restaurant was a high point of our journey. This unique dining venue serves 1.3 million dishes per year amid some of the most spectacular scenery this country has to offer.
The culinary team behind the carefully curated menu work closely with local suppliers and I was thrilled to see many familiar South Australian products among the ingredients. Our gourmet breakfast selections included Harris Smokehouse smoked salmon, Kangaroo Island honey, Beerenberg jams and breads from Paesano Bakery. Our two and three course lunches and dinners included products from Barossa Fine Foods, Southrock Lamb from Kangaroo Island, cheeses from Woodside Cheese Wrights and Section 28, nuts from Willunga Almonds and delicious Gelista gelati.
Most dietary requirements can be accommodate (with prior warning) and the food is excellent -as is the company. Each meal we found ourselves sitting with someone new, getting to know folk from all walks of life and some far flung corners of the world.
People like the couple from Switzerland who had hired a van and driven up the east coast, boarded the train in Sydney and who were flying home from Perth, seeing as much of Australia as possible on the way home. There was the French backpacker who was also flying home from Perth and a retired couple who had bought a train/cruise package and were joining a cruise to Indonesia in Perth. Or, soberingly, another couple of a similar age to ourselves, one of whom had recently had a devastating medical diagnosis and who were ticking things off their bucket list as quickly as possible.
We were a part of each other’s lives for a moment in time and space – a remarkable privilege on a remarkable journey.
2016-17 Prices for Sydney-Perth Indian Pacific
Gold class starts at $2,529 per person.
Platinum class starts at $3,919 per person.
Lambs’ Ears and The Bloke were guests of Great Southern Rail for their trip on the Indian Pacific.