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Published January 24th 2022
Like flying Business Class but with views
If you are a fan of train travel and enjoy a bit of comfort, this just might be your thing. Especially if, like me, you are missing those lovely, long Business Class flights we used to do pre-pandemic.
A Railbed, on the Spirit of Queensland, offers most of the benefits of a seat at the front of a plane with the bonus of scenic views, rather than clouds, through the large windows. I did this trip recently and I loved it to bits, except for one thing..... and I'll get to that.
We left from Cairns, around 8.30am, heading for Brisbane. The journey was to take around 25 hours.
A one-way fare with a Seniors discount is around $330 and includes lunch, dinner and breakfast. My rationale is that a night's accommodation is included as well as the transport, plus it's an adventure. Well worth it in my mind.
Lunch was soon served with a minimum of fuss. I had ordered a pumpkin, spinach and feta filo wrap with a baked cheesecake to follow. The occasion seemed to invite a glass of wine so I added a small bottle of white. Wine costs extra but prices are reasonable.
After consulting the Entertainment Guide, I decided to catch up on a few movies. They weren't new releases but there were enough titles, of good quality, to choose from. There are also popular TV shows and music channels on offer.
I was in my happy place; sated by wine and food, comforted by the soft clickety-clack sounds and the gentle rocking of the train. I watched three movies in a row.
I had ordered Beef Cheeks for dinner and I must say it was a good choice. Tender meat with flavoursome gravy and just-crisp vegetables. I'd love to know how they achieve that on a train. Needless to say, we added red wine to complete the deal and our future seemed secure.
After my delicious dinner and a few more chapters of my book, I ventured off to the nearby bathroom. I've never showered on a train or a plane before so it was a novel experience. Towels were provided as well as liquid soap from dispensers. I was surprised at the size of the shower cubicle as well as the bathroom. Both were far bigger than expected.
Here's the rub; the soft, clickety-clack sounds of a train do not provide as much 'white noise' as an aircraft cabin. And everyone snores. And I could hear everyone snoring. All night.
I tried earplugs, earphones, music and a pillow over my head. All to no avail. The man on the other side of my aisle was a loud and consistent snorer and there was no escape!
I must have got some sleep because I woke up bleary-eyed and tired the next morning. Coffee helped.
The landscape had changed from the tropical rainforest as we headed south during the night. I sipped coffee and ate breakfast as we passed through Gympie, Nambour and Caboolture, arriving at Roma Street Station, in Brisbane, around 9.30am.
Despite the near-sleepless night, I loved the whole experience and I'd do it again in a heartbeat. I've heard of some heavy-duty earplugs that block out all sound and I'm going to invest in those. I recommend you do the same before you contemplate an overnight trip in an open train cabin. There are bound to be snorers.