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Transport > Australia > Train travel

Train travel

Train travel is the most comfortable way to travel overland, but trains don’t run as

frequently or operate to as many destinations as buses.


Trains go to the most popular destinations along the east coast including the popular

Sydney-Cairns route and also along major inter-city lines including Sydney to Adelaide,

Canberra and Melbourne and onwards to Perth on the west coast. From Adelaide, there are also trains running north to Darwin.


Great Southern Railway (GSR; tel 13 21 47) runs most of Australia’s great classic rail journeys, which include the long-distance Indian Pacific between Sydney and Perth and the legendary Ghan, running from Adelaide to Darwin. Great Southern Railway offers backpackers discounts when you show your Nomads, VIP or HI/YHA card that makes the train a cheap alternative to bus travel. Some of the fares with the backpacker discount include Melbourne-Adelaide ($49), Adelaide-Alice Springs ($149), Adelaide-Darwin ($199) and Sydney-Perth ($299). The best deal; however, is Great Southern Railway's Rail Explorer Pass that gives you six months unlimited travel on the Ghan, Indian Pacific and Overland trains for just $690 (with a backpacker discount card and a non-Australian passport).


Railway companies that serve their home state operate most other train services in Australia. These include Countrylink (tel 13 22 32), which operate trains in New South Wales; QR (tel 13 22 32), which run train services in Queensland; V/line (tel 13 61 96), which runs trains in Victoria. Transwa (tel 13 10 53) has limited train services in Western Australia.


There are a number of rail passes available that make train travel a little easier and more



These rail passes are available from student and backpacker travel agents or contact the

railway companies listed above for more information.


Australian rail passes include:

Austrail Flexi-Pass

The Austrail Flexi-Pass gives you six months unlimited travel on CountryLink, Great Southern Railways or QR train services.


This pass costs $890 if you buy it outside Australia or $990 if purchased in Australia. It is only available to international (non-Australian) passport holders in possession of a return or onward airline ticket.

Great Southern Railway Rail Explorer Pass

Great Southern Railway's Rail Explorer Pass is one of the best travel deals in Australia. This

pass gives you six months unlimited travel on the Ghan, Indian Pacific and Overland trains. It costs $690 if you have a HI/YHA, Nomads or VIP card. This pass is not available to Australian passport holders.

Backtracker Rail Pass

This Backtracker Rail Pass (tel 13 22 32) is good for unlimited economy travel on all Countrylink trains and buses in New South Wales and includes travel on Countrylink trains to Brisbane and Melbourne.


This pass is only available to travellers in possession of a valid international passport.


Backtracker Rail Pass
Validity Price

14 days


one month


three months


six months



East Coast Discovery Pass

The East Coast Discovery Pass is the most economical way to explore the East Coast by train.

The pass is valid for six months travel in one direction along a predefined route on the

CountryLink and QR network between Melbourne and Cairns. The East Coast Discovery Pass is not valid on the Kuranda Scenic Railway.


East Coast Discovery Pass
Route Price

Brisbane to Cairns


Sydney to Cairns


Melbourne to Brisbane or Surfers Paradise


Melbourne to Cairns


Sydney to Melbourne


Sydney to Brisbane or Surfers Paradise



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