Australian Circumnavigation by train and ship

We gathered at Sydney Central Station to board the Indian Pacific, one of the most iconic train journeys in the world. The friendly efficient staff ensured we were checked us in and settled with a minimum of fuss.

As the train rolled though the western plains of Sydney spread out on either side we snatched glimpses of backyards and into the lives of the way people live in this vibrant city. Then the climb into the Blue Mountains commences.

This escarpment held back the further inland settlement for many years until a way was found. The railway travels over part of the original route. Passing through towns such a Katoomba and Leura stirs reminiscences of a slower time, a time of Sunday drives and Greek Cafes’ in every small town.

Cocktails in the lounge car, a sumptuous dinner then returning to our cabins finding our beds prepared and turned down ready for our excited but weary heads. It’s like being transported into a 1930’s Hollywood movie. Luxurious, comfortable, sophisticated train travel, a true delight.

Our first morning on the train found us in Broken Hill. Most passengers took the opportunity for a sunrise tour through the place where ‘the big Australian’, BHP was founded. Then back on the train for a welcome breakfast, as we rolled through the outback to Adelaide.

We arrived in the relaxed and pretty city of Adelaide in the mid afternoon. Where we took advantage of a tour to see the highlights and be delivered back in time for our evening departure.

The next day we crossed the Nullarbor Plain. We wake to rolling red sand hills covered with small desert trees dotted about. Many ask the question, is this it? Is this the Nullarbor Plain? No it’s not but quite suddenly we come out onto a large expanse of very flat, very wide plain with not a tree to break the horizon, ‘the’ highlight of this fabulous train journey.

A day of watching this plain rolls by with a short stop in Cook which has a population of five and finally in the late evening Kalgoorlie. As we crossed the plain we were privileged to watch the rare event of thunderstorms rolling across the horizon and occasionally over the train. Stopping in Kalgoorlie allows you to stretch your legs or join a bus tour of the city.

Our third and final day found us racing through the wheat belt of W.A. on our way to Perth. We are sad to end this part of our journey but excited for the next step. A city sights tour through the bustling expanding city opens our eyes to both its’ history and the great potential of its’ future. Then off to Freemantle to this bustling port put on the world map when Australia won the Americas Cup.

Three days in Fremantle; to rest, or explore interesting and historic towns of the region. Our included day trip to Rottnest Island allowed us stroll the beaches and get great photos of cute quokkas.

Next we board the Sun Princess. What a sight, this beautiful white ship bright in the afternoon sun. With the paperwork complete we boarded with a minimum of fuss. Some rushed off to their cabins others chose lunch first then off to their cabin then most spend the rest of the afternoon finding our way around our home away from home for the next 2 weeks.

Our first day ashore is a tour of Geraldton, one of the sparkling gems of the Western Australian coast. A town based on farming, mining, fishing, and growing very quickly. But also a place of reflection with the only National Memorial outside of Canberra, built and financed by the people of Geraldton, a memorial to HMAS Sydney, where the storey of the battle between it and German raider Cormorant is told.

Spending the next two days at sea, being as active or relaxed as you choose to be. I know for a fact an afternoon nap on a sun lounge was popular.

Ubud, Bali, a place of artists, markets and some tasted bubi gooling an iconic dish of this island. A quick visit to Ubuds’ market for that perfect gift, then onto a Balinese compound or home. This intimate glimpse of another culture was a highlight with many questions asked and answered.

Our wonderful cruise finished with stops in Broome, Darwin, Port Douglas, Townsville, Brisbane and then returning to Sydney.

If you interested in experiencing this wonderful cruise/rail package please select either of the two links.

Package 1, depart 24 April 2012
http://www.travelrite.com.au/circum_aust_cruise_rail_dawn.shtml

Package 2, depart 4 July 2012
http://www.travelrite.com.au/circum_aust_cruise_rail_sun.shtml