Train ariving prior to departing Townsville 25-08-2021.
What started off as a bit of an individual personal dare is now a fixture in many of my future holiday dreams. I must address why The Inlander
made me think it was beyond belief, and yet also address as to what exactly is The Inlander. It is a 977-kilometre train journey west of Townsville to Mt Isa, that travels overnight for 21 hours between first and last stop. Tickets are advertised at queenslandrailtravel.com.au
for 108 dollars, all the way in one direction. It is an old refurbished train with about four carriages - one carriage used for its passengers, and a spare carriage if they somehow get more than expected bookings, no sleepers, and a capable yet small crew that work usefully to aid your time on this train. It is a great train journey for rail history buffs, aficionados of great rail journeys, and I can say it was well worth my efforts to sum it up with some photos and provide a concept on taking the journey yourself, why you should take it, and some tips or hints on how to gain an appreciation of it.
I've left a gallery below of the journey's progression - with all this review's photos taken by me
after some preliminary photos, so starting at the first sunrise of the trip to the end of the photos is chronologically ordered. I took the trip consecutively in both directions, yet really valued those journeys. I found I'd done many concentrated and long amounts of train travel on this holiday to help me explain to take rests and not overdo it, but if you just do one full journey at a time, then it's the ultimate rail experience and adventure. Resting and stopovers help build the overall experience, for example, I could have booked my trip to Brisbane home by train, but realised it was unrealistic to do 50 plus hours of train travel, so I booked a stay prior to flying home at Townsville's City Oasis Inn
, which turned out to have an ideal landscaped cold water swimming pool and warm spa with the central location allowing me to add some aspects of the inner city and suburban Townsville to my holiday whilst also yielding refreshment and rest and replenishment. So the stopovers are important and there is always an option to take only one complete journey instead of there and back to Townsville.
Hence, my tips are: don't overdo it on the train travel, use stops to refresh. I won't say how long I was consecutively on trains for, but I realise that the best way is to travel to Townsville, and if by train take two days to refresh, yet if by plane, just half a day or overnight. Then take the train trip, it leaves at 12.40 PM two times a week. Then, take three days in pleasantly surprising Mt Isa, which has a nice Civic Centre
and lovely staff at the library
next door, a PCYC with a skatepark next door, motels, a shopping plaza, a lookout over the town conveniently located, bus stops, long-distance bus journeys home, an airport with direct flights to Brisbane, the mining industry, but my insider's tip is to try a pie at Brumbys
up the road from the Civic Centre. I tried out their King Island beef pie and after a long train trip, knew I was onto something good.
The rail station is safe, especially when staffed, and you won't have to catch trains there when unstaffed - with departures from Mt Isa to Townsville aboard The Inlander twice a week at 1.30
Then, catch The Inlander in the opposite direction back to Townsville
, and either fly, train or bus back to Brisbane.
Why should one invest in such an experience?
Well, the crew were lovely, so were the stations, but in fact, the ultimate drawcard is the right pace coupled with the low power of the train, and the fact it is a train journey from yesteryear. Riding a train when compared to a car is like a bicycle to pedestrians, not for differences in speed, but the difference in perception, in that I'm implying cars, walking, jogging go at a pace, but not 'the right pace', while bicycles give riders opportunities to look at what is around them, which when touring is so useful. For The Inlander, the pace is sublime perfection, and the accompanying pull, and stuttering of the locomotive addictive.
All things stipulated by Queensland Rail (by call centre staff and website) are promised yet delivered as well, such as timely light meals, including fresh-tasting packed sandwiches, a piece of cake, a fruit and fruit juice mini-carton while breakfast is cereal and milk. They also serve instant coffee as often as possible and switch lights off overnight. I saw that the passengers were very friendly and many knew the crew, from frequent journeys. It is ultimately such a simple idea yet with that incredibly balanced pace to it, a tempo that hypnotises but also produces fine viewing and enjoyment as a rail passenger. If there was one thing I wanted to communicate more than the rest is the journey's pace and feel to it as well as accompanying viewing, that is its strength, the reason I write so enthusiastically about such an experience.
I feel it is well worth a trip to Townsville to try such an experience, you'll feel like putting a comment below when or if you take this trip because it's a hidden gem of astronomical intrinsic value. This is mainly due to Townsville being a bit further north in my opinion - most Queensland train trips depart Brisbane, so it's a bit different but for the pace and style of train trip, for the friendly and experienced crew, a crew that delivers this journey week in week out, and from my summing up pictorially below, do take a trip to Townsville and try The Inlander. If you do, you will enjoy something different in quality and iconic rail journeys for outstanding memories and value for money.
Towsville Station on morning of the first trip.
Seating prior to first journey.
The Inlander @ Townsville Station.
The Lounge carriage is good for stretching the legs out
Sunrise on the (second) day
Scenery from train window near Mt Isa
Approaching Mt Isa Station at 9.11 AM 26-08-2021.
Mt Isa Railway Station 977 kilometres and 21 hours later, yet ahead of schedule.
Luggage is signed well.
Mt Isa mines tower over station.
Cloncurry is a longer ten to twenty minute stop-off
The Inlander @ Cloncurry Station.
Hughenden Station is old yet functional
The Inlander @ Hughenden Station
Charters Towers Station signage
Ready for the home stretch, The Inlander Carriages, at Charters Towers.
Outside Townsville @ 8.05 AM 27-08-2021.
Townsville station at the foot of Castle Hill