This year is the 60th anniversary of the Sunlander making its debut train ride. With this anniversary comes an end of an era. At the end of this year the Sunlander will be taking its last journey; replaced by a newer faster model train, the Spirit of Queensland.
Voted in the Top 25 Rail Journeys in the World by the Society of International Railway Travellers, the Sunlander experience is one not to be missed. The Sunlander took over the North Coast Line (from Brisbane to Cairns) in 1953. At that time it was just a diesel locomotive, taking 41 1/2 hours to travel the 1681km journey.
Now the Sunlander takes around 31 hours. While that may seem like an extraordinarily long time, the iconic Australian landscapes, changing from city to country to the tropics, and the Queenslander Class sure makes up for it.
Queenslander class is the premium way to travel on the Sunlander. With individual sleeping berths, turn-down service, private vanity unit, air conditioning and a panoramic view, this is THE way to travel the Queensland coast. There are three kinds of sleeping berths available; the single, the twin, and the triple. The Queenslander fare is all-inclusive (apart from alcohol) which means the food prepared by the expert onboard chef is all yours for no extra cost.
The twin sleeper has twin seating which transforms in to two bunk style beds. Each of them contain a table, two wardrobes, full length mirror, power point, and wash basin with a vanity mirror. There is also a reading light, pillow, fresh sheets, blanket and towel per person. These sleeping berths face the direction of travel for extra comfort.
All meals served on the Queenslander Class are presented in a fine dining atmosphere – exclusive only to Queensland Class passengers.
Lounge Car and Entertainment
The lounge car is another exclusive car with the benefits of refreshments and entertainment. Entertainment tablets are available also, with a choice of new release movies, TV shows and music.
Economy class may be the cheaper way to travel via the Sunlander but does not lack its own certain charm. With wide seats, a toilet and shower in every car, a luggage rack at the front of the car for those not checking luggage in, overhead racks with pillows and blankets for passengers and air conditioning. From economy class you have access to the club car (or the corner store, as I like to call it) and the buffet car with announcements when they open and close. There is also the option to have your own vehicle brought along for the ride using the Motorail service.
Economy seating starts at H car with the 3 seat rows. This car has wider seats and easier access to power points. From I car the seats become smaller, with four seats per row. All economy seating is open saloon style with individual reading lights and the aforementioned overhead storage. These seats can be reclined to a desirable height and have drop down tables and foot rests to make your overnight journey more comfortable.
The Club Car or the Corner Store offers a variety of refreshments from 6:30am until late. There are power points, comfortable searing, panorama views, and a TV which plays new release movies. Alcohol is available in this car.
The Buffet Car is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. This diner style car is highlighted by the gorgeous views of the ever-changing scenery outside. Food here is quite cheap for the quality and size of the meal you receive, for those with smaller appetites I recommend getting a child sized meal.
If you have ever wondered what it would be like to travel the coast of Queensland aboard Queensland’s most historic train, then now is the time to do so. Having taken this journey myself many times, I can tell you that it is an experience you will never forget.
Don’t miss your chance to travel on history!
For bookings head to Queensland Rail Travel. Children, backpackers, students and pensioners can get a discounted price. The Sunlander runs on selected days only so make sure you check out the Timetable for The Sunlander to make sure it is travelling on your dates.
A reminder that smoking is not permitted on any Queensland Rail Travel Service, on station platforms, or within four meters of any building or entrance.
Featured image: Sunlander – ABC