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Australia > Long Distance Australian Train Journeys > Tickets And Passes - Where To Buy ThemThe 'Ghan' Locomotive type Cv40-9i

Tickets and Passes for the Long Distance Trains of Australia - How and Where to Buy Them

A guide for backpacker and budget travellers

Australian Rail Passes
If you wish to travel on the Long Distance Trains of Australia, there are a variety of tickets and fares available. For the foreign tourist, one of the most economical has to be the purchase of one of the range of different rail passes. These are available only for those who reside outside of Australia. Despite the recent price increases they still represent excellent value - for instance, the cost of a 'Rail Explorer Pass' that lets you travel anywhere on Ghan, Indian Pacific and The Overland, as often as you like, in any direction, for a three or six month period, is actually cheaper than a single standard ticket on the Indian Pacific from Sydney to Perth !!

Map of Australian Great Train Journey Passes

Recent Changes - As of July 1st 2013 there have been some major changes to the Australian Rail Pass system. The Rail Australia Alliance partners have withdrawn all of their joint passes, including the popular Ausrail Pass. Each operator will instead offer their own rail pass as a stand-alone product. The original seven Australian rail passes (Ausrail Pass, Rail Explorer Pass, Aus Reef and Outback Pass, Trans Aus Pass, Aus Reef and Beach Pass, Backtracker Rail Pass, and Queensland Explorer Pass) have now been reduced to four: The Rail Explorer Pass, the Backtracker Rail Pass, the Queensland Explorer Pass, and the East Coast Discovery Pass. Although this has removed a lot of the flexibility that was previously available, the passes are still excellent value and will let the traveller to Australia cover huge areas of the country.

Here are the details for each pass:

Rail Explorer Pass - o-o-o Travel on The Ghan, Indian Pacific and The Overland in any direction for a three or six month period and explore Perth, Darwin, Alice Springs, Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney. Taking in popular destinations such as the Red Centre, the tropical north, Nullabor Plain and Broken Hill.

Backtracker Rail Pass - o The Backtracker Rail Pass takes you to the capital cities of Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne and Canberra, as well as connections to over 360 locations in New South Wales and beyond. You can also travel on Australia’s NSW Trainlink network (formerly CountryLink): XPT and XPLORER trains and connecting coach services to over 360 locations in and around New South Wales.

Queensland Explorer Pass - o A Queensland Explorer Pass allows travel on the Tilt Train, The Sunlander, Spirit of the Outback, The Westlander and The Inlander. Stops of interest include Cairns, Brisbane, Townsville & Magnetic Island, the Whitsundays, Capricorn Coast, Hervey Bay & Fraser Island, Noosa & the Sunshine Coast, the Gold Coast, Longreach and the Outback.

'Indian Pacific' coach with tree reflections in the windowsEast Coast Discovery Pass - o Unlimited East Coast rail travel heading either north or south between two select cities from a list of: Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Cairns. You can travel on Australia’s CountryLink and Queensland Rail Travel services in one direction only, either North or South, with unlimited stopovers between the locations selected.

Interior view of the 'Red Gum' Lounge CarRail Pass Notes

  • It is strongly recommended that you buy and pay for your rail pass BEFORE you arrive in Australia. Although a foreigner can buy a pass once they arrive in Australia, the price could be up to two hundered dollars more!!
  • Buy online, and the voucher will be posted to an address that you specify. This is normally your home address, though a holding address in Australia, but not a P.O. box or Poste Restante, is also acceptable if you are already on the road.
  • Don't buy your pass too early - travel must commence and the pass validated within six months of the date of purchase.
  • The pass allows unlimited travel over a 3 or 6 month period starting on the day the pass is validated (first day of actual travel).
  • The voucher is exchanged for the pass when you get to Australia, and the bookings for the trains that you wish to travel on can be made at the same time.
  • The pass is valid for unlimited travel in Economy/Red Kangaroo Service seats.
  • A reservation for each individual sector of travel is necessary to obtain a valid travel ticket.
  • Seat reservations must be made in advance as the pass itself does not guarantee a seat.
  • Don't forget to specify an aisle or window seat.
  • The pass holder may upgrade to travel in first class, business class or Red Premium Service seats and sleeping berths on payment of the applicable upgrade amount.
  • Fuel surcharges apply on The Ghan, Indian Pacific and The Overland - they are currently $15 per journey and are payable at time of booking a journey.

    Mario's Palace Hotel at Broken Hill, New South WalesBuy your rail pass here:

    Additional information from Queensland Rail:

    Backpacker and Student Point to Point 'Ready Rail' Fares
    Don't need to travel for three or six months? Only looking for point-to-point bargain fares? If you are a Backpacker or Student there are still some really good deals available, saving you approximately 60% on a standard single ticket. These were the Australian dollar prices available in 2013/2014:

    • Melbourne - Adelaide: $58
    • Sydney - Adelaide: $188
    • Alice Springs - Adelaide: $216
    • Darwin - Adelaide: $431
    • Perth - Adelaide: $277
    • Perth - Sydney: $434
    For further details, see www.greatsouthernrail.com.au/backpacker External link opens a new Browser window

    Still keen and want to find out more? Please visit the other pages in this article:The 'Ghan'  railway carriage at Alice Springs station

    1. Introduction
    2. Tickets And Passes - Where To Buy Them - THIS PAGE
    3. On Board The Train - Seating
    4. On Board The Train - Food
    5. On Board The Train - Facilities
    6. On Board The Train - Photography
    7. On Board The Train - Ghan And Overland Differences
    8. Packing List - Essential Items For The Journey
    9. Upgrading To Better Accomodation
    10. Whistlestop Tours
    11. Station Notes
    12. Great Southern Rail Train Photo Gallery

    The photographs on these pages were all taken on my recent 32,000km journey around Australia. Click any image to see a larger version. The photographs are all available for licensing in a range of sizes - please Contact Me for details.

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