An Outback Rail journey on the Sydney to Broken Hill Train
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I experienced some great rail journeys on the Australian trains. In the Australian outback’s heart, I have travelled by train from Tropical North Queensland south to Sydney to Broken Hill. Here are my tips and experience if you plan to take the Sydney to Broken Hill Train.
This train to Broken Hill takes through the most diverse and spectacular Australian landscapes: from the beautiful lush hills of the Blue Mountains and vast forest hills, endless grassland plains, and inhabited little villages to the vast, rugged plains of the Outback to reach Broken Hill.
The Sydney to Broken Hill Train Service
Two services are riding the Sydney to Broken Hill route. The Xplorer train leaves once a week from Sydney every Monday morning at 6.30h (check out the Australian rail site for updates), and it gets to Broken Hill in the evening, around 8.30 pm. It’s an early start and long hours to sit on the train. It is worth every minute of this awe-inspiring train ride. It will take you across the most diverse landscape you can ever imagine.
The other option is to travel on the Indian Pacific Train, which leaves late afternoon so that you will miss most of the landscape views. If you decide to go on the Indian Pacific Train to Broken Hill, it’s a sleeper train. I suggest the train ride on the Outback Xplorer to get to Broken Hill.
What to expect on the Outback Xplorer Train to Broken Hill
The Outback Xplorer is a good train. Its carriages are spacious, and the seats are comfortable. You can switch the front seats in most Australian trains to face you. That’s very practical whenever you want to stretch your legs, as seen in the picture below.
There are no female/male toilets but only the main toilets area. The food offered on board the Xplorer Train is good, but food in NSW is generally more expensive than other train services in Australia. The friendly train crew can take your meal orders, which can be collected at the counter when meals are ready. Be sure you reserve your food early, as they may run out of meals quickly and be prepared to queue up at the counter.
The Benefits of the Xplorer Train
I had heard that the Sydney to Broken Hill train journey offers stunning landscape views. I have been travelling for over 15000 km by train across Australia on different routes, and I must say that the rail journey from Sydney to Broken Hill is more spectacular than other trains like the Ghan train because of its diverse landscapes.
I recommend this train if you plan to visit Broken Hill.
The Cons of the Outback Xplorer
One challenging aspect aboard the Outback Xplorer is taking photos from the train carriage. Especially in the first 2 hours when the train goes through the Blue Mountains, the recurrent bends form a serpentine, so it’s tough to take pictures when the train is in motion. However, running inside the carriage was good fun, trying to get a good shot. And do not worry about recharging your camera, phone or laptop batteries; electrical plugs are available in each carriage on designed spots.
Travelling across the Blue Mountains
As I said, the Blue Mountains landscape is simply stunning. The train meanders through the highest peaks of forests from where you can marvel at the depth of the valley and the blue-veiled horizon. Unfortunately, the train did not slow down, but despite the twisting route, I could finally make a couple of good shots at some stage. Here below, you can see them.
The Landscape: from Lush Green Forests to vast grassland plains
The rail journey to Broken Hill takes you through the Blue Mountains and takes approx 2 hours; then, the landscape slowly changes into forest tableland with lovely hills of soft contours. It was the beginning of May, with fall colours at its best, as you can see from the photo below: green, gold, red in all nuances, the light reflection pouring through the slightly cloudy sky, the enormous trees covered with brown goldish to burgundy-red leaves.
After the beautiful sights of the colourful tableland hills, the landscape dramatically changes into vast grassland plains
The blue sky dotted with artistic white clouds is very beautiful; the photo quality is not so good. I spent hours looking out the window, marvelling at this natural beauty and enjoying the warm sunlight coming through the train’s glass
After all the twists and bends of the mountains, the train was riding straight ahead for a long stretch, and I could get some photos while sitting comfortably; the farm photo below is one of them; I love its colours.
From shrubland into the rugged Australian Outback
But this is not all yet…it’s a long way to Broken Hill….over 1000km. The last part of the train journey from Sydney to Broken Hill takes you into the magic of the Australian outback, vast outback plains, red earth and green spinifex, gum trees and the blue sky. It’s easy to become addicted, and I cannot get enough of it.
The Outback was flooded in several areas, as shown below.
Enjoying lovely Outback sunsets near Broken Hill
Well, there is no remarkable Australian train journey without a beautiful sunset. Here below is what I could witness during the final stretch of the train journey on the way to Broken Hill.
The Sydney to Broken Hill train journey is beloved by the locals
When the train was approaching Broken Hill, the lovely couple sitting next to me gave me a tiny piece of paper with their phone number on it and offered their help whenever I required information, advice and tips in Broken Hill. I found this very kind of them. Surprisingly the tiny piece of paper looked familiar to me…
I turned it in, and yes, it was an Italian bus ticket…when I asked whether they had been there, they said: “We are just returning home after six weeks’ vacation in Italy and across Europe”.
After the long flight from Europe…they did not bother to take the next flight from Sydney to Broken Hill. Instead, they preferred travelling on the Sydney-Broken Hill train!
They added: “We always take the train from Sydney back home to Broken Hill. The train journey is wonderful. We never miss out on such wonderful landscape views.”
And I can only confirm it for you. This Sydney-Broken Hill train journey is worthwhile. And I would dare say you do not need to take a book with you on the train; the stunning beauty of the Australian landscape will entertain you all the journey through.
Day Tours In Broken Hill
When you get to Broken Hill, you can either go on a discovery tour of this unique Outback Town or visit on guided day tours. Here below are our picks for the best day activities and short trips from Broken Hill.
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First published in 2012, last updated in Feb 2023
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