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Railbed Travel on the Spirit of Queensland Tilt Train

Home > Brisbane > Travel | Trains | Railway Journeys
by Karen Ross (subscribe)
I love slow travel, slow food and discovering new adventures and delicious regional food in new locations. I'm on an indulgent quest and I'd love you to follow at
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.

Cairns station
Cairns station

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.

Spirit of Queensland
Spirit of Queensland

I opted to sit next to the aisle and we settled in.

Railbed seats, Spirit of Queensland
Railbed seats, Spirit of Queensland

Amenities packs were a welcome surprise. I lip-balmed and hand-creamed during 'take-off'.

Amenities pack, Spirit of Queensland
Amenities pack

Friendly and efficient attendants brought menus and took orders for everything at once. Decisions were made and I sat back to relax with a book.

My travel partner enjoyed the passing scenery through the large window. It had been raining so the tropical landscape looked fresh and lush.

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.

Gourmet lunch on Spirit of Queensland
Gourmet lunch

Sometime after lunch, we saw another Spirit of Queensland train pass by, heading towards Cairns. The trains travel each way five times a week.

Spirit of Queensland
Another SOQ

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.

Beef Cheeks for dinner
Beef Cheeks for dinner

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.

Bathroom on Spirit of Queensland
Bathroom on Spirit of Queensland

While in the bathroom our seats were magic-ed into beds and made up with crisp, white linens. They looked most inviting and I settled in for a good night's sleep. Sadly this wasn't to be.

Comfy beds, Spirit of Queensland
Bathroom on Spirit of Queensland

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.

Haughton River
Haughton River

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.
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Why? Train travel has the lowest carbon emissions of all mass transport options.
When: Five times a week, each way
Phone: 1800872467
Where: Cairns Railway Station
Cost: $334 each, one way, for seniors
Your Comment
We love railway journeys so happy to read this report. Sorry about the snorers. Marina
by Marina Marangos (score: 3|1246) 368 days ago
sounds like an awesome trip, Karen!
by Elaine (score: 3|9160) 369 days ago
It does look and sound like business class in those things with wings. The menu matches the ambience.
by Neil Follett (score: 3|4540) 369 days ago
Thoroughly enjoyed this review- you covered every question I had and this has now gone on my list of Must Do's
Thank you.
by goods (score: 1|30) 368 days ago
I could get a return flight for that and not worry about snoring
by johnc (score: 0|2) 368 days ago
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