Great Southern Rail, operator of Australia’s long-haul trains, announced early-bird discounts for sleeper accommodations on two of its featured runs. Discounts are 15 percent off for travel April 1 through October 31 and 25 percent off for travel November 1, 2012, through March 31, 2013. Both routes are among the favorites for travelers who enjoy extended “land cruises” on deluxe trains:
- The India Pacific operates between Perth, on the Indian Ocean, and Sydney, on the Pacific. At 2,714 miles, it’s the world’s third longest through rail route—far behind the Trans-Siberian at 5,800 miles, but just 75 miles shorter than Toronto-Vancouver. The trip takes three nights and traverses scenery as varied as the barren Nullarbor Plain, with its 300 miles of absolutely straight track, to fertile farmland to the Snowy Mountains. Discounted fares for the complete trip are $A1,857 (around US$1,977, see XE.com for current rates) at 15 percent off and $1,601 at 25 percent off.
- The Ghan operates between Adelaide on the Southern Ocean and Darwin on the Timor Sea. It passes through Alice Springs and across much of the Outback. The trip takes two nights. Discounted fares are $A1,857 at 15 percent off and $A1,647 at 25 percent off.
On either train, you travel in “Gold” service, which includes private cabins for one or two, with built-in shower, plus all meals. Trains make brief sightseeing stops at key locations along the route. You can also buy shorter segments. Book through March and be aware that the usual seat limitations and blackout dates apply.
Also discounted, by 20 percent, is the Southern Spirit, a true land cruise that takes five nights for the relatively shorter trip between Adelaide and Brisbane via Melbourne. The fare includes accommodations, meals, and extended “whistle stop” tours each day. Discounted prices are $A3,520 per person double occupancy for the complete trip or $A3,280 for the Brisbane-Melbourne segment, for travel through December 31.
At this point, the Great Southern website doesn’t seem to offer this deal, so the suggestion is that you use a travel agent. However, you may be able to book online at a later date.