Crossing the Nullabour on the Indian Pacific

Written by Ruan M, from Travel Club by Wyndham. 

Last year I was lucky enough to ride the Indian Pacific from Perth to Adelaide on the Inaugural Indian Pacific Food & Wine Train. Traversing the great Nullabour Plain was one of those bucket list experiences that I wanted to check off my very long list of travel must-do’s, plus being a special food train there was going to be vintners, celebrity chefs and two chocolatiers on board. Wild horses couldn’t have kept me away!

The Indian Pacific waiting for her passengers at East Perth Station: Indian Pacific East Perth Station
Arriving at East Perth Terminal, the stainless steel passenger cars with the distinctive wedge-tailed eagle emblem gleam softly in the morning sunlight. We’re ushered on board by welcoming staff to enjoy champagne and petit fours. We’re introduced to our on board crew, and we mingle around to meet our fellow passengers. In our section, there are a few Gold Class twin and single sleeping cars, a dining room and a lounge area. Since we’re on a Foodie experience, we also have a second dining room available to us that we’re told is to be used for wine and chocolate master classes.  Before long, we’re pulling out of the station to the farewell waves of the station crew.

My cabin is a Gold Service Twin that I get to enjoy on my own. If you’re travelling solo you can book either a Gold Service Solo Cabin and share the bathroom with one other person, or you can book a Twin Gold Service cabin for yourself. During the day I have a forward facing comfortable sofa and at night, my sofa becomes a cozy bed with a proper mattress surface and feather doona. My cabin attendant shows me how to work the lights, radio, bathroom utilities and where to put my belongings away. The wood interiors, brass fittings and rich fabrics are reminiscent of a past era where rail travel was romantic and grand. The bathroom, although small is perfectly adequate, with a good flow of hot water, and enough room to tuck my things away.

Gold Service Twin Day setup: Gold Twin Interior
After a tasty and hearty lunch with specially selected wines, we head to the lounge car for a nice ice cold glass of wine before we’re split into groups for our “master classes”. Over the next two days I’ll get to enjoy a session on food and wine pairing by Lyndey Milan, A truffle making class by the ladies from Chocolate No. 5 in Hahndorf, wine showcases by three prestigious wineries:  Kalleske, Corile and Moss Wood. We also have the wonderful Mark Olive on board who gives us a really interesting talk about Australian indigenous plants, spices and herbs. We get to smell and taste a range of different plants, and learn how to incorporate the flavours into our cooking . I get to taste Kangaroo for the first time and it was fantastic. Although these food and wine masterclasses are not a feature of the standard Indian Pacific journey, the train still prides itself with a tradition of fine food, selected Australian wines, and local flavours. After all on a journey from Perth, the gateway to the Margaret River Region to Adelaide, home of the Barossa Valley you’re experiencing the premium locations for exceptional produces in Australia.

Mark Olive and his selection of indigenous herbs and spices (photo courtesy of Great Southern Rail): Mark Olive

After dinner on the first night, our first stop out of Perth is in Kalgoorlie. A local character takes us through town out to the Super Pit. From a safe viewing vantage point we watch massive dump trucks slowly wind their way down the terraces to the base. The trucks are the size of a house, and yet they are dwarfed by the sheer size of the terraced walls. The massive scale of the operation is astounding. Back on the train hot chocolate awaits, and then we’re off to bed. I go to bed with my cabin windows open so that I can see the incredible starry outback sky.

It’s all about great food, local produce and flavours on the Indian Pacific: Menu   Cheese Board

Pastel colours of dawn in Rawlinna: Pastel Dawn Rawlinna

When I wake it’s early, early morning and the train has stopped. We’re in Rawlinna, on the Nullabour Plain. The cool misty morning air carries sounds of music and the smells of hot coffee. I climb off the train and make my way towards the sounds and smells where tables are laid out and a man with an acoustic guitar sings popular Aussie songs while we enjoy our coffee. Back on the train it’s time for a hot breakfast, some great conversations with fellow travellers and a wonderfully relaxing day with no mobile phones and the most incredible scenery expansive scenery on show.

Early morning concert on the Nullabour: Rawlinna Music

Later that day we stop in Cook. Cook is almost a ghost town, with population of only 4 staying here now to service the Indian Pacific. Walking around Cook is great fun. They’ve spent a lot of time preserving some of the old buildings, and the whole place shines with Aussie humour. It’s just one of those quirky places dotted all over this country: hidden treasures you’ll only discover if you are on a journey through the heart of the country like this one.

Historical Jail Cells in Cook: Cook Jail Cells

Our last night on the train is perhaps the best night I’d had in a long time. The gentleman that serenaded us in Rawlinna is actually on the train with us, and after another fantastic meal and plenty of good wine (courtesy of the vintners on board) we had a good old fashioned sing-a-long before everyone decided to get up and dance late into the night. Dancing on a moving  train in high heels is more fun to watch than to try do, so it was in bare feet that I danced into the early hours with all the new friends I’d made on the journey. We had an early morning arrival into Adelaide and we were whisked off to the central markets for breakfast, before heading out to the Barossa, where I got to taste Port made the year I was born at Seppeltsfield. For anyone doing this trip I’d definitely recommend finishing off your train journey with a bit of time in Adelaide and the Barossa. The city is such an easy place to get around and enjoy. Sad as we all were that the journey was at an end, we were all in agreement that we all had a journey on The Ghan to look forward to one day.

Port tasting

Tasting port at Seppeltsfield put into oak the year I was born. ( I was born in a very delicious year!)

Travel Club by Wyndham currently has a special offer available on the Indian Pacific exclusively for Worldmark Owners – find out more here.

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