This will be just the way to travel from Cairns to Brisbane, we decided, while planning our Aussie Adventure all those months ago. Instead of flying down, we’ll go by train instead, and decided to upgrade to the RailBed option. And what a train ride it was – a 24 hour trip travelling down the Eastern coastline. The spacious, comfy, leather seats, with enough legroom to accommodate a big burley super tall sportsman, magically change into RailBeds, the first of it’s kind in Australia.
Our comfy seats by day
The cane fields are never far away in this part of the country, and it’s cane harvesting time. We passed these wagons filled with freshly cut cane waiting to be taken to the factory. And there’s the factory, just a little further along.
Cut sugar cane and the sugar factory
Bananas are also grown here and plastic bags are placed over the bunches of bananas to ensure they all ripen at the same time.
The train passengers were provided with little blow-up neck cushions – not as easy to do as first thought. Those little neck cushions will be travelling with us on our flight home. Or we could just use the large squishy pillows in the train instead.
We loved the look of the old “Queenslanders” homes, built on stilts with lots of windows to let the breeze through, and shutters to keep the hot sun out.
An old Queenslander
The miles rolled by, and we got off to stretch our legs when we were able, when passengers boarded further down the line. The station at Tully is well maintained and someone with green thumbs takes a lot of care and pride in all the plants.
A brief stop at Tully Station
And another at Townsville
Lots of water-birds
The train stopped at Home Hill and we were interested to see quite a collection of caravan parked up along the road – seems to be a popular “free camping” area we thought. Campers were sitting outside in the sun, having Happy Hour together, and seemed quite happy. Meanwhile, the train waited, and waited, and waited, and we were there well over an hour. Unbeknown to us, there was a fracas happening in the end carriage, and one of the Townsville passengers got very abusive and threatening. So the police were called, and the passenger and her rather large family were evicted from the train!
Freedom Camping by the station
Our RailBed package included meals, and we had been well fed all day, including wine or beer if requested. Dinner was barramundi for her and chicken breast for him. We both commented how nice it was to be served meals with real cutlery and crockery, instead of having to eat with plastic as you seem to on plane travel these days.
Dinner for two
Later in the evening we watched with interest as the RailBeds were made up for sleeping. There are all sorts of workings inside which magically seem to unfold themselves. Once fully extended, sheets, pillows and a duvet are added, and we’re ready for a good night’s sleep. Our verdict? Cozy little beds, the mattress was a little hard, but certainly beats sitting up in a seat all night. And the “hood” makes everything seem very private.
I was wide awake after my latest venture down the carriage at 5.00am when everything went berserk. “Whoop, whoop”, went the sirens, the lights all came on and everyone raised their heads to see what was going on. My first thought was “smoke” and I hurriedly put my shoes on, didn’t want to evacuate in bare feet, and told Robin to wake up now and put his shoes on quickly! It was in fact smoke which had set the alarm off. Luckily the train was not on fire – we were passing through a smoky burn off beside the track and the smoke had got sucked through the air intake into the cabins. A false alarm – but it’s good to know that the alarms and procedures all work. So that was certainly an early wake up call for everyone.
The RailBeds were changed back to our comfy seats, and after and early coffee from the Café Car, we settled down to wait for breakfast. And getting slowly closer to Brisbane as we chugged along.
The train was running very late indeed, as well as the incident with the police, there had been quite a delay at Rockhampton while refueling, so in the end we were two and a half hours late arriving in Brisbane. Several of the passengers were running late with their airport connections. We had a hotel booking in the city for the next few nights, so luckily it didn’t matter to us if we were a little late.
Arriving in Brisbane