We booked our tickets months ahead and at the time it seemed so far away and surreal. Back then we were still in the thick of resort management in Noosa, with not a lot of head space to think too deeply about much else.
Train travel has always appealed, and I’d much prefer moving along the ground than in the air. So when we started talking about making our way from Sydney to Melbourne the idea of catching the daytime XPT train seemed a logical choice for us. We’ve done overnight sleeper train travel before, but this time we really wanted to see the countryside.
I found navigating my way around the NSW rail website useful for choosing our travel style, but not much help for making the booking. And anyway I really like to talk with a human. In this case, Margaret at the rail office was exceptional.
Margaret talked me through the various options and in the end we settled on a “Daysitter” cabin, which is just the daytime version of an overnight sleeper cabin, only with a 3 seater “couch”.
We were surprised at the ticket price, $130 each in the 1st class cabin, which isn’t much different to flying, and certainly more interesting and with no airport hassle. Now that we have more time on our hands we can sit back and enjoy the countryside, read a book, have a snooze, eat and observe our fellow travelers.
Hoping to have the cabin all to ourselves, but not to be. It seems the train was overbooked and a Malaysian family of around 8 boarded and took up every available seat. Was actually lovely, added to the interesting day. In fact, chatting with one of the young women (only 1 spoke English) they were on holiday and had so far stayed on the Gold Coast, Sydney and now on their way to visit family in Mildura. So that meant they would disembark at Cootamundra and travel the rest of the way by coach. What a great effort. I thought how cold they must have felt, coming from the tropics, and it seemed funny that they were all wearing the same style of Kathmandu winter jacket over their traditional clothes.
Bonus great morning tea – fresh baked scones, jam & cream with a cuppa $6.00! Hot lunch and dinner choices a real bargain @ $8.00. The only drawback was that the wine was sold only in those silly little plastic bottles, but at $6.00 not much complaining was going on.
Finally arrived into Melbourne station and were among the 1st off the train. Which was just as well because the system for collecting your luggage is very archaic. There was a roped off section on the platform and 2 train workers brought off each suitcase and lined them up in rows. Meanwhile all the passengers were filling up the platform behind us in a huge mob. We managed to watch our bags being brought out and saw where they were placed, so that when the barrier rope was removed we could go straight to the place, grab our bags and get out of there. Glad we didn’t hang around on the train and be stuck right at the back of that huge crowd.
Easy to pick up a cab out the front of the station, a good cabbie, and only $28 fare to Carly & Bevan’s place.
We loved our day on the train, and can recommend it if you want to slow down on your next trip.