Sunlander train

Linking Brisbane and Cairns, The Sunlander services many of Australia's iconic oceanside destinations - Fraser Island, The Whitsundsay Islands, The Great Barrier Reef and the tropical city of Cairns. On the way it passes through some of Australia's most scenic sub-tropical and tropical regions.

There are three departures each week in both directions for what must surely be Queensland Rail's flagship service. Covering around 1,691 km, the 31 hour journey is long enough to allow passengers to relax, unwind and take in the view through its big windows, but short enough to not feel as though it is taking forever for those eager to reach their destination.

The Sunlander offers three levels of service - Queenslander Class, Sunlander Class with a choice of single, abd twin sleeping berths, and Economy Class with a choice of triple-share berths or sleeper seating. Sunlander and Economy Class passengers have access to a Club Car that offers an almost continuous service of light refreshments, drinks and confectionery, and a licensed Buffet Car where snacks, meals and beverages may be purchased. Showers and restrooms are provided in all sleeping and sitting cars. Special dietary meals are available but must be arranged at the time of booking.

Nambour, Maryborough, Bundaberg, Gladstone, Rockhampton, Mackay, Proserpine (The Whitsundays), Bowen, Ayr and Townsville are among the scheduled stopping places for travellers not wishing to complete the full journey. Coaches and buses provide transport to the towns and regional centres they service where the station is out of town. A Motorail service on selected journeys allows passengers to take their own motor vehicle with them. All I travelled with who had previously used the Motorail service found it to be efficient and trouble free.

Queensland Class

For those seeking a premium, all-inclusive* rail experience, Queensland Class is the way to travel. Dedicated staff are on hand around the clock to ensure the journey is pleasant and relaxing, and there are plenty of thoughtful personal touches in the service to make the journey a truly memorable experience. This high level of service, combined with the lush scenery that passes by the window constantly, has led to The Sunlander being listed as one of the top 25 rail journeys in the world by the Society of International Railway Travellers.

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In addition to their berths, Queenslander Class guests (travellers are looked upon as guests, not passengers) have their own lounge and dining cars. The restaurant menu offers a choice of three course meals that will not disappoint the most fastidious diner. All meals are prepared fresh by an on-board chef. The Queenslander Class's signature dish is a seafood platter, delivered direct from the trawler to the train midway through the journey, a firm favourite with Queenslander Class passengers.

Queenslander Class compartments have a comfortable three seater lounge which converts to upper and lower sleeping berths at night, complete with fluffy doonas and pillows. Cabins feature 240 volt power points, private vanity, wardrobes, full length mirror, reading lamps and foldaway table. Beds are turned down during dinner by the cabin crew.

Portable DVD players and a selection of movies are available, as well as a variety of board games and magazines. Guests can also enjoy complimentary tea and coffee in the comfort of the lounge car, as well as live entertainment. The journey is long enough and the number of passengers travelling Queensland Class small enough to allow guests to quickly get to know each other and enjoy each other's company in the intimate atmosphere afforded by the smaller group of travellers who opt for Queensland Class.

*Alcohol is sold separately.

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