Train Questions

Old Nov 16th, 2004, 09:44 AM
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Train Questions

We will be in Australia early March, 2005 and plan to fly from Sydney to Bundaberg for a week. On our return to Sydney, we are considering taking the train to Brisbane and spending about three days there.

We are wondering what the scenery would be along the way if we took the train from Brisbane back to Sydney. It is a long ride - about 15 hours and we are also considering stopping somewhere along the way and spending a day or two before completing the journey. At this point of our discussions we are open to suggestions as where to stop.

Also we were given fares for first class and business class and economy seating and don't know the difference between the classes other than the price.

Your suggestions and help would be greatly appreciated and thanks in advance for your input.
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Old Nov 16th, 2004, 10:04 AM
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Hi Waterlady - why are you visiting Bundaberg?
Are you used to driving on the left? if so, then a rental car will allow you to see so much more, than that from a train. Trains in NSW tend to take a long time to reach their destination, and most tourists do the wise thing & fly between cities & towns.
Personally, I wouldn't spend 3 days in Brisbane. Our tilt train just the other day derailed just north of Bundaberg, near Rosedale, with quite a few people injured.
The problem with getting on & off trains, is that you really do need a rental car to see most of the attractions in various coastal towns between Brisbane & Sydney, so why not rent a car & drive the whole Pacific Highway down to Sydney, and make it a 3-4 day journey.
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Old Nov 16th, 2004, 10:16 AM
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Hello Waterlady,

I've never caught the train from Sydney to Brisbane, but there have been several posts about this topic in the past. The Aussie Fodorites seem to be in agreement that the train is the worst form of transportation between Sydney and Brisbane. Well, maybe it beats riding a bicycle, but you probably get my point. They all say that it's an expensive, slow means of transportation, and not good value for money.

That said, please do not let that put you off taking shorter train rides. For example, I have taken the train from Sydney to Katoomba in the Blue Mountains several times, and that is a pleasant train ride.

Also, Australian cities have good commuter train systems, so don't let me put you off those either.

A train route that seems to have some sentimental value is the Ghan that goes to Alice Springs. I have not been on it myself, but I have heard mixed reviews of it from personal acquaintances and from Fodorites. Some people like it, and some people don't.

A question that mystifies me is why you would fly back from Bundaberg to Sydney, only to turn around and head north to Brisbane again. I would have thought it would have made sense to drive from Bundaberg to Brisbane (4.5 hours) and then carry on driving to Sydney in a southerly direction.

Brisbane is a pleasant city, but there is only about a day's worth of stuff to keep a person occupied there, IMO.

Here is a thread with suggestions of what to do in Brisbane and, more importantly, OUTSIDE of Brisbane:

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...3&tid=34537433

Here is a thread with suggestions of things to see between Sydney and Brisbane:

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...3&tid=34541040

I hope you are not afraid of driving in Australia. Driving is not a worthwhile pasttime in a big city like Sydney. There traffic is heavy and public transportation is good, so it makes more sense to use public transportation.

The reverse is true once one gets out of the big cities. Then the driving becomes easy, even if one has not been accustomed to driving on the left.

Here is a website where you can find out driving distances and times amongst Australian towns:

http://www.travelmate.com.au/MapMaker/MapMaker.asp

When I clicked PREVIEW MY REPLY, I saw that Tropo had beaten me to it. Waterlady, Tropo is an Aussie, and knows waaaaay more about the area than I do. Nonetheless, I think my message contains enough additional information that it may be worth leaving it as it is, and I'll post it anyway.
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Old Nov 16th, 2004, 10:53 AM
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Judy, your posts are always helpful and intereting, keep submitting them.
Waterlady, Judy is right, there are shorter train trips in various cities are worth taking. But generally, the long distance train trips between cities are long winded, usually more expensive than a shorter flight.
Judy I think Waterlady, probably means to say, flying from Sydney to Brisbane (which means catching a flight from Sydney to Brisbane, then another connecting flight through to Bundaberg), later, taking the train to Brisbane, and a train trip then from Brisbane back to Sydney. Does that sound right?
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Old Nov 16th, 2004, 02:38 PM
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Hi - years ago when I moved to Sydney from the Gold Coast I caught the train from Murwullumbah to Sydney. The train left at night and arrived on the outskirts of Sydney in the early hours of the morning. It was singularly the worst train trip (barring one between Delhi and Jaisalmer in India) that I have ever taken. It was cold, cramped and incredibly boring. However, the last part of the trip was beautiful, the train winds through the Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park and along the beautiful Hawksbury River. You can save yourself the pain of the dreadfully long trip I had by just taking a day trip by train from Sydney to Newcastle or even just to Gosford which takes in this glorious scenery (stop for lunch) then head back to town.
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Old Nov 16th, 2004, 05:27 PM
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The train ride between Brisbane and Sydney is as boring as batshit! Tedious, uncomfortable, crappy food - and they're probably the good points.

May I ask why you're flying back to Syd from Bundaberg, and then thinking of going to Brisbane. If you wanted to do that trip, Bundaberg to Brisbane and then on to Sydney would be more sensible.

Even the bus would be a better option, Bris-Syd - and I hate buses. Byron Bay might be a good place to break a trip down the coast.
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Old Nov 16th, 2004, 06:11 PM
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Daneille, obviously you haven't had to take a train from Adelaide to Dimboola (Vic), as I did a good many years ago. For sheer unmitigated ghastliness that would take some beating.

One day a visionary Australian government may grasp the nettle and decide that long-term government financing of fast trains between the capital cities of SE Australia is in the national interest, but I'm not holding my breath.

A few weeks ago I took the Maglev train that services Shanghai's Pudong airport: 31 km in less than 8 minutes, top speed reached 431 km/hr, fare about AU$6.50. The Chinese government is considering running a service from Shanghai to Beijing (1400 km). You might remember that the maglev technology was proposed some years ago when a high-speed train Sydney-Canberra-Melbourne was being discussed. No way - far too radical a proposal for Australia to consider.

OK, now I've got that off my chest.
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Old Nov 16th, 2004, 07:24 PM
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Yes Neil, we are very 3rd World as far as our train services are concerned. But we can't get our suburban rail network to run adequetly so what hope have we for any sort of swanky high tech interstate service.
Whoops sorry I mentioned that!!
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Old Nov 16th, 2004, 08:21 PM
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I would like to respond to questions by tropo, Judy in Calgary, and margo.oz.

We will fly into Sydney from New Zealand and will spend five days in Sydney before going to Bundaberg for snorkling and relaxing at a time share which was a gift from a friend.

Driving is NOT an option. We don't feel comfortable driving on the left side of the road. We recently returned from a 10,000 mile road trip across the United States and know driving on the left side of the road is not for us.

We decided to fly from Sidney to Bundaberg. It is not a direct flight and makes a stop in Brisbane before continuing to Bundaberg.

When we leave Bundaberg and are on our way to Canberra we wanted to stop in Brisbane for a few days.

In researching travel options, we could either take a train to Brisbane or fly and we thought perhaps a train would give us an opportunity to see more of your countryside.

Then we considered taking the train from Brisbane to Sydney (just to see more of your country).

It was at this point that I decided to post my request for Train Help. I needed to know about your train system.

We appreciate your comments and helpful suggestions.
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Old Nov 16th, 2004, 11:01 PM
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Waterlady, I hope you enjoy your trip. Sorry about the digressions, an occupational hazard on this board.

Daneille, I'm well aware of Sydney's current train problems - just proves that you gets what you pays for, doesn't it? European cities have much better systems (although Londoners might argue with that), but Europeans are prepared to pay more than we do.

Here in Canberra we have no suburban rail network at all, and successive ACT governments will ponder the advisability of light rail ad infinitum - despite the fact that the city's designer, Walter Burley Griffin, made sure that the main roads had big fat median strips to accommodate this inevitable facility.

Just think of the guy (forget his name) who designed the Sydney suburban network. His mad utopian plans to build lines to such places as the airport, the northern beaches and the NW suburbs were given the treatment they deserved.
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Old Nov 17th, 2004, 03:58 AM
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Whilst on the subject of train travel in Oz (and Sydney's problems right now haven't a patch on Queensland Rail's), please may I let you all know that the "new" steam train service from Freshwater (just north of Cairns) to Kuranda is dead. It's gone. Not to be confused with the "old" Kuranda train (Queensland Rail) once steam and converted to diesel,has been running for years and can be combined with Skyrail. It was a lovely little train, so much nicer than Queensland Rail's and I was happy to see several days a week, puffing and steaming away - it was trialled for 6 months and operated for about that much longer before it died. Nothing to do with the train, just bad and naive marketing ruined its chances. Anyway, it's all a bit sad, staff have been made redundant and an extremely expensive loss for the operators.
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Old Nov 17th, 2004, 11:00 AM
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Waterlady, as you can see train travel in Australia, is generally not that great, except for the Tilt Train here in Qld (providing it can stay on the tracks)
Can I suggest a few places in & around Bundaberg to visitbr /> * Bundaberg Rum Distillery
* Beach areas, like Bargara, Mon Repos, Elliot HEads, etc.
* Botanic Gardens
* Sugar Museum
* Hinkler House Memorial Museum
* Bundaberg Art Centre
* Schmeiders Cooperage & Craft Centre
* Tropical Wines
* Cruise on the River
**** Day trip to Lady Musgrave Island on the southern Great Barrier Reef.
** OR a day trip down to Hervey Bay & visit Fraser Island. (we are a little over 1 hrs drive from Bundaberg. Yesterday, there was a slight NE blowing, water clear & aqua blue, and temps around 29 degrees - just perfect)
Where's the timeshare situated, Bundaberg or out on the coast near Bargara?
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Old Nov 18th, 2004, 09:55 AM
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tropo - thanks for your suggestions. We will be away from town - actually across the road from the water (so says the brochure).
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Old Nov 18th, 2004, 10:27 AM
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Waterlady - it sounds like your timeshare is situated along the coast, probably at Bargara or Coral Cove. Bundaberg is not far away by bus or car, nor is Port Bundaberg, the starting point to catch a boat out to Lady Musgrave Island for the day.
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