Melbourne To Cairns Australia. Planes, Trains and Automobiles. Travelling the Spirit Of Queensland.

Ted and I are travelling to Cairns Australia, Northern Queensland. Banana bender land as colloquially known. We are travelling through Queensland rather than flying over. I don’t think it’s something many people do now. Time poor means generally wanting to get to places quickly to start their holiday, thus an extra day by the pool or at the beach or in the township. Ted loves trains and I don’t mind them. Life is an adventure with Ted. Most of us would catch a plane to Cairns. A quick 2.5 hour flight from Brisbane, or 3.5 hour flight if non stop from Melbourne ( most flights from Melbourne are 5-8hours depending on the stopover ). We are flying to Brisbane, staying the night at The Pacific Hotel then catching the Spirit of Queensland over night railbed train, a 26 hour trip to Cairns. For us that’s part of the holiday, the getting to the end destination like our 2018 road trip from Perth to Exmouth. We travelled through Western Australia rather than over it in a plane. You miss so much on a airplane.

The Blue line is our travel once on the train.

Friday night straight from work we headed to the airport on the Star Bus. Booking online is easy and from Parkville Melbourne it cost $20 each one way. Getting an Uber would be a similar cost if two are travelling but this bus driver yesterday knew how to get to the airport in peak hour traffic through the back ways and got us right to the front door at the airport in good time, despite a hiccup with our pickup. I had booked the pickup accidentally at the wrong place in Parkville from where we were but luckily once realising and calling they still picked us up.

We made it in plenty of time to enjoy a cold beer on what had been a busy hot day before boarding.

Tullamarine International Airport, Melbourne, Australia
Air Train from Brisbane airport

We arrived in Brisbane and got the Air Train to Roma Street station, our nearby accomodation in the location we would be catching the Train to Cairns the next day. As the crow flies the hotel was about a 3 minute walk but as we and everyone else that books at the Pacific Hotel discovers, it’s a 10 minute walk to get to the other side of the railway tracks but doable with luggage in hand. If doing this be prepared for the hall up the big hill to your accommodation! Our Hotel was nice enough and served the purpose for an overnight stay.

The next day we walked literally around the corner and into the heart of Brisbane where we spent the morning shopping and brunching at the Pig & Whistle in which I enjoyed some charcoal pancakes.

In the afternoon we headed to the fabulous picturesque Garden Room cafe Rosa Street Parklands and enjoyed some Turkish bread, dips and a refreshing Kombucha prior to catching our train.

If you want to get somewhere quickly or are short on time fly. But if you are willing to embrace a train trip give it a go. It’s dearer to than flying from Brisbane to Cairns but given you get 3 meals a day and drinks with meals ( soft drink, juices or wine and beer) and overnight accommodation the $380 price tag isn’t bad. We both enjoy that you get to see the country side as opposed to being in a plane where looking out the window can be like being in the 4th level stand at the MCG watching a football match or looking from a drone view high in the sky. On the train you travel amongst the the people, greenery of the trees, hills, fields and sometime barren land experiencing the landscape close up and getting a feel for a place.

View from my window on the Spirit of Queensland.
Inside the railbed carriage on the Spirit of Queensland

On boarding we were offered a refreshing ginger beer

There are single pods on one side of the isle and two pods size by side on the other.

As seen in this pod before being transformed into a bed there’s adequate facilities for modern devices. USB slots, PowerPoints, tv remote, headphone slot, and other comforts, moveable chair, footrests, cup holders, night light and a small storage area. There’s plenty of leg room. We checked in our cases and took only overnight luggage to our seats.

The train is equipped with a shower and unisex toilets also allowing for a baby change table

Meals were nice enough and filling enough but a little airlineish in presentation . We had travelled in the Overlander and in comparison food was better presented and nicer.

There’s a diner/cafe cart if you want to stretch the legs and get a change of scenery from your pod seat. The hot chocolate there would be one of the worst I’ve ever had but the carry bag was intriguing.

Cafe cart on train

After dinner they announce the beds will be prepared by staff. This was an interesting process.

With compliments

I showered whilst my bed was made up and before anyone else used the shower and made it an unpleasant soggy mess!

As it tended to be a more elderly crowd travelling this way as soon as the cabin lights were turned off at 9.45pm most went to sleep. I watched something I selected from limited options then turned the tv off and tried to sleep. One negative of sleeping in what is similar to a dormitory environment is snoring and multiple snorers. After wanting to scream will you all shut the hell up the snoring seemed to stop by 1230am and I settled off to sleep. I slept quite well, finding the bed very comfortable.

The 6am wake up so beds can be converted back to seat and breakfast served wasn’t welcomed by myself but I followed what felt a was regimented system and it made me think is this what life will be like in a nursing home in my future.

The morning view was pleasant. Breakfast was served as as we travelled and I enjoyed the experience of seeing our great land. Rural Australia, farmland scattered amongst the dry sunburnt land as Australia faces one of its worst droughts ever.

Cane fields
Harvested cane crops
Some typical Queensland homes on the farming land
Mango Trees
Mango trees
Capsicum crops
Dry River Bed

There are ‘comfort’ stops where new passengers are picked up and current travellers can step off the train for 10 minutes to grab some fresh air which is nice to get out of an air-conditioned environment for a bit.
Tully Station Queensland
Tully Station Queensland with a lovely iconic looking elderly Australian man

Overall, I enjoyed this type of travel. It was an experience but you have to want to do it and embrace it. It’s a great way to just be with your friend, lover, partner whoever without distractions. You chat, relax and laugh and that’s good for the soul for your connection with each other. It needs to be added into your holiday and seen as an holiday in itself and not just a way of getting from point A to B. If that’s the case fly because you will probably find it a time waster in your busy life that eats into you final destinations time.

Love Lucy x

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