The Overland' is a passenger train service that runs twice a week between the capital cities of Adelaide and Melbourne. It first began in 1887 and has seen many changes in recent years. Sadly, due to changing transport modes and the withdrawal of government funding, the service looks set to close.
The train leaves Adelaide at 7.45 am Fridays and arrives in Melbourne on Friday night around 7 pm. It returns to Adelaide on Saturday, leaving Melbourne at 8 am. Another service leaves Adelaide on Mondays and returns Tuesday night. A one-way trip takes around 10.5 hours (compared to a 1.5 hour flight). It stops in Murray Bridge, Bordertown, Nhill, Dimboola, Horsham, Stawell, Ararat and Geelong.
It began as an overnight sleeper service and was hugely popular as a then modern method of getting between the cities. At various points in time it also offered a motor-rail service where people could bring their cars although this is no longer available.
Despite the fine print about checking in, you won't need to be at the station any more than an hour before boarding. The first boarding call was made twenty minutes before departure. Boarding is easy as you'll be assigned seats on check-in. Just find your carriage (they're lettered) and flash your id at the steward/host. Once on board, you'll marvel at all the space you have and the relative luxury compared to a plane.
The carriages are a bit dated but are spotlessly clean and, oh so spacious! The seats are huge, there's more legroom than anyone needs. The windows are massive so there's no need to fret about the view. The seats even turn around so you can face your travelling party if it works out that way and they tilt right back for sleeping when it's time to get some rest. There's overhead space for hand luggage and space at the end of carriages for some luggage though bulky luggage that is checked in at the terminals will be loaded into the baggage car. The premium carriages have a 2 1 across seating arrangement, compared to the regular carriages 2 2 layout.
The stewards introduced us to the train and its journey, much as they do on planes and the train pulls away from the station so smoothly that you may not even notice any bumps and it is surprisingly quiet! You can just hear the engine horn blasting away at the front of the train. There's a little bit of rattling and rolling but it is a very smooth and civilised ride. You can leave things lying around on the windowsill or your seat and they'll stay there. We had to do this with our phones when mobile coverage got patchy in the remote stretches.
We ordered our meals and settled in. Breakfast was served an hour later and although excellent, they did seem to take a while. The train takes two hours to reach the first stop at Murray Bridge and then makes an impressive crossing of the Murray River.
From here the country-side is 99.9% cropping land and flat scrub. While nice to look at, you do get bored with it after a while. You can see the Grampians off in the distance near Stawell but by that time you'll probably be well into a book or a few wines in the café car. You can get up and wander between your carriage and the café car any time. The aisles are huge and there's huge bathrooms and spaces to stand at one end of each carriage.
The only charging points for devices were in the café car. Our phone batteries were heavily drained streaming music and video entertainment, while low coverage meant even heavier battery drain and it was a real struggle to keep enough charge in our phones.
We arrived into Melbourne after dark so we didn't see much and what we did see was industrial land, rail yards and people's backyards as the train progressed ever more slowly towards Southern Cross Station (formerly Spencer Street Station).
Those who'd brought bulky or heavy luggage will need to head to the luggage car to retrieve it while we just headed up an escalator to the concourse and were instantly in the heart of Melbourne.
Such a pity, the Overland has been a great service for those that canâ€™tafford other means of travel, or looking to enjoy the go slow and relaxed journey.
I remember how my late Grandmother use to travel from Melbourne to Adelaide. As kids we were excited and overjoyed at coming to the Adelaide Train Station with my parents to see her arrive and disembark off The Overland. She did this trip several times.
Iâ€™m sure a lot of people would have wonderful memories of travelling on the Overland.
Thank you to The Overland for a great service.
As $10 poms we arrived from Melbourne in Adelaide one Saturday morning after being cold all night. Airconditioning was on it was November. 1973 back then the shops closed early on Saturdays about lunchtime. Good old days
How unfortunate, with an ageing population and many seniors no longer able to drive, but have time to travel it seems a very short sighted choice to cease the train service. I personally have loved the service, much more relaxing and enjoyable than flying.