The southeastern Australia coast is ideal for a road trip—unless you’re short on time. Now there is a faster, more luxurious, and infinitely more relaxing way to explore it. Journey Beyond Rail Expeditions, the company behind the premium Ghan (Adelaide to Darwin) and Indian Pacific (Sydney to Perth) train routes, is adding a new adventure: Great Southern. Launching in December 2019, the 28-carriage twin-locomotive train will carry up to 214 guests between Adelaide, South Australia, and Brisbane, Queensland, traversing Victoria and New South Wales en route.
Book the first-class Platinum Service for a spacious en suite room with panoramic windows that transforms into a bedroom with double or twin beds during turndown service. Guests in this class have access to the Platinum Club, a lounge done up with leather banquettes and quartzite tables. Meals—full breakfasts, two-course lunches, four-course dinners, served with regional meat, Bollinger Champagne, and cheese—are included in the ticket price. The popular Gold Service is also pretty swish, with all-inclusive meals and a private three-seater lounge converting into bunk beds come evening.
The biggest draw of the Great Southern is its choose-your-own-adventure off-train experiences. In Canberra, guests may tour the National War Memorial or the National Gallery of Australia, or spend the afternoon wining and dining in the bucolic Murrumbateman region. In Grampians National Park in Victoria, they can join a guided bush walk up to Venus Baths, a collection of naturally formed rock pools, or sit down to an elegant meal that showcases the Grampians’ finest Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon. At Port Stephens in New South Wales, they can watch for dolphins in Nelson Bay, then hop in a four-wheel-drive van to explore Stockton Bight Sand Dunes, the largest mobile sand dunes in the Southern Hemisphere. There’s even an option to book a flight over Victoria’s Twelve Apostles, those dramatic limestone stacks off the coast of Port Campbell National Park.
The Great Southern’s northbound Adelaide-to-Brisbane route takes two nights and three days; the southbound Brisbane-to-Adelaide lasts three nights and four days. Between December 2019 and January 2020, 16 departures are scheduled, with fares starting at $1,779 per person and more departures to come in December 2020. —Ashlea Halpern