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The Ghan versus Indian Pacific - Epic Australian Rail Battle

The Ghan vs Indian Pacific
The Ghan vs Indian Pacific

When it comes to choosing between Australia’s great train journeys, it can appear to be an impossible choice thanks to the calibre of rail travel experiences on offer. To make the decision slightly easier for you we have put together this comparison guide and infographic (below) for two of Australia’s most incredible rail adventures.


The Journey

The legendary Ghan takes you from the coast of Adelaide to the coast of Darwin (or vice versa). Over three awe-inspiring days and two relaxing nights, this 2,979 km journey guides you deep into the heart of Australia, making stops in Alice Springs, then north to Tennant Creek and Katherine.

Should you choose to make your way from the Indian Ocean to the Pacific or the other way around aboard the mighty Indian Pacific, you will be travelling along the longest stretch of straight railway track in the world (4,352km of track to be exact). This transcontinental journey from Sydney to Perth (or vice versa) via Broken Hill and Adelaide takes 4 days and 3 nights.


The Ghan loco
The legendary Ghan

The Trains

Apart from the colours and branding, the trains themselves actually have quite a bit in common.

They both have 30 carriages on average and both travel at an average speed of 85 km/hour (reaching maximum speeds of 115km/hour).

As both The Ghan and Indian Pacific are operated by Great Southern Rail the interior of the carriages and dining cars are exactly the same.



Indian Pacific Loco
The mighty Indian Pacific


The Ghan’s symbol is an Afghan pioneer on a camel in recognition of the 19th century Afghan cameleers from which the train derives its name.

The Indian Pacific’s emblem is Australia’s largest bird of prey, the wedge-tail eagle.

The bird’s impressive two-metre-wide wingspan symbolises the epic Indian Pacific journey which spans the continent.




The Landscapes

camel ride the ghan onpage 260

If watching an outback sunrise, cruising along the Katherine River or one of the activities in Alice Springs sounds like your cup of tea you will have the time of your life on The Ghan.

Other highlights of the Adelaide – Darwin (and Darwin – Adelaide) itinerary include scenic views of the sweeping Adelaide plains and the spectacular Flinders Ranges, not to mention the incredible array of off-train excursions, outback experiences and optional upgrades on offer such as:

  • Nitmiluk Gorge Cruise (Katherine)
  • The Ghan Cultural Experience (Katherine)
  • Alice Explorer (Alice Springs)
  • Camel ride along Pyndan Camel Tracks (Alice Springs)
  • Spirit of Mt. Gillen Helicopter Flight (Alice Springs)
  • Nitmiluk Gorge Cruise (Katherine)
  • Twin Parks Fixed Wing Scenic Flight (Katherine)
  • Nitmiluk Gorge Helicopter Flight (Katherine)
  • Outback sunrise in Marla, Adelaide to Darwin itinerary only
  • Outback bonfire & stargazing in Manguri, Darwin to Adelaide itinerary only


On the other hand, if crossing the famous Nullarbor Plain and enjoying breathtaking views of Sydney’s Blue Mountains sounds more exciting, then the Indian Pacific is the Australian rail journey for you.

Other highlights of the Sydney – Perth (and Perth – Sydney) itinerary include stops in Broken Hill, Adelaide (Barossa Valley or Hahndorf) and a self-guided walk in the outback town of Cook.

Indian Pacific guests can also enjoy a fabulous range off-train excursions, outback experiences and optional upgrades along the way, such as:


  • Visit to Pro Hart Gallery (Broken Hill)
  • Visit to the Miner’s Memorial and Trades Hall (Broken Hill)
  • Winery visits (Barossa Valley) Sydney - Perth itinerary only
  • Adelaide Central Market Progressive Breakfast, Perth - Sydney itinerary only
  • Outback roast dinner under the stars in Rawlinna, Sydney - Perth itinerary only
  • Visit to Hannan’s North Tourist Mine in Australia’s gold capital (Kalgoorlie), Perth - Sydney itinerary only
  • All About Perth Excursion, Sydney - Perth itinerary only

The Service

the ghan rail experience
The Ghan onboard experience

Both The Ghan and Indian Pacific guests can choose from the two Great Southern Rail service classes: Platinum & Gold.  

The main differences between the classes are the amount of space in the cabins, the dining options, luggage allowance and of course the price.

Platinum Service is the most luxurious class on both trains, boasting cabins almost twice the size of a Gold Twin and premium extras such Platinum Service Transfers, fresh continental breakfasts served in-cabin (upon request) and access to the Platinum Club.

The Price

Indian Pacific Platinum class
Indian Pacific Platinum Class

Rail Plus' Ghan, Adelaide – Darwin (and vice versa,) 3 day/2 night journeys start at $1649 per adult, twin share for Gold Service Twin. For the same journey, Platinum Service Twin service starts at $3,269 per adult, twin share.

There is also a 4 day/3 night Ghan package - The Ghan Expedition – which includes an enhanced Off Train Excursion in Katherine, extra time in Alice Springs and an Off Train Excursion in Coober Pedy.

Rail Plus' Indian Pacific, Sydney – Perth (and vice versa), 4-day/3-night journeys start at $1899 per adult, twin share for Gold Service Twin. For the same journey, Platinum Service Twin service starts at $3,759 per adult, twin share.

To find out more about the various packages available for each great train journey and view The Ghan and Indian Pacific timetable and service level inclusions head to our Australian Great Train Journeys page online.

To speak to a rail expert, call our dedicated Australian great train journeys service department today. Our rail support centre is open from 8.30 am – 5 pm, Monday to Friday. We understand the needs of the busy traveller and ensure our professional advice is customised in all cases to suit your specific requirements. Should you need help planning a trip, our rail experts are also happy to help you face-to-face. You can make an appointment via the website to see one of our rail reservation consultants at our Melbourne office.

At Rail Plus we are passionate about rail travel and dedicated to ensuring all of our valued customers have the best possible rail experience, wherever their destination.

We invite you to begin exploring the wonderful world of rail.


Rail Plus is the only rail company with a dedicated luxury train team that has experienced the Ghan and Indian Pacific and other luxury trains around the world. This means our Australian rail experts are in the best position to assist you with journey planning, discuss your options and ensure you have the best experience possible on your Indian Pacific holiday.

Contact our Great Train Journeys department today:

Telephone: 03 8779 4828

We'd love to help you start organising your epic Australia train trip!

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