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June 24, 2009

Overland Down Under

A lavish and leisurely way to spend 11 hours of daylight.
Originally published on June 19, 2007.

There you are, in the comfort of your own private rail carriage, sipping a glass of award-winning Coonawarra cabernet from the very vineyards beyond the windows. As your personal chef prepares a lamb tagine to-order, your waiter mentions that the Grampian Mountains in the distance are best visited during wildflower season. If only all train journeys were like Australia’s new Overland – which thanks to a $3.5-million revamp, now offers the most stylish way to get from Melbourne to Adelaide.

The 11-hour daylight journey follows the historic route of the “Overlanders,” who blazed through these 500 miles on horseback before the first train service in 1887. Today’s 11-hour daylight experience allows travelers the luxury of several private bedrooms where they can nap in between gawking at red gum forests and mallee scrublands. But if a $2,250 private carriage is too steep, you can always book a red premium ticket, designed with more personal space than before, and at less than a tenth of the price. Either way, once you’re in Adelaide, you can choose from two more iconic rail routes: north to Darwin on the Ghan through Alice Springs; or west to Perth on the Indian Pacific, along the world’s longest straight stretch of railway track. And yes, they both have private carriages.

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