Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Nambour: The Sunshine Coast Line

Nambour Railway Station is 101 km north of Brisbane's Roma Street Station and 13 km inland from the coast line at Maroochydore. If you want to get as far north from Brisbane as you can get on the CityTrain network, then apart from the twice daily Gympie North Intercity Train (which also passes stops here), Nambour may just be the perfect destination. Train services between Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast terminate here, at the railway station and bus interchange that was opened in 1986.

Nambour Railway Station looking along platform 1. 2014

Before the arrival of the rails from Brisbane, the area was known as Petrie's Creek. The name Nambour was taken from a nearby cattle station and the town renamed when the railway line opened in 1891 to avoid confusion with the suburb of Petrie in Brisbane. Once famous for the sugar cane railway that serviced the Moreton Sugar Mill, the town has retained a short section of cane tramway on the corner of Currie, Mill and Howard Streets to preserve some of the charm of this former sugar town. Today of course, the sugar mill is gone. In its place is the Nambour Mill Village Shopping Centre. But plans are underway to use the remaining 2 foot gauge tramway line linking either side of the town with a New Orleans style street tram, to take tourists and shoppers on a joyride through the heart of town, and only a short distance from the railway station.

The southbound Sunlander arriving at Nambour Railway Station, 2014.

Being on the North Coast Line, Nambour Railway Station today sees a passing parade of freight and passenger trains along with 13 daily Intercity Trains that terminate here on platform 2, which is a stub ended platform alongside the mainline. The mainline north and south of the station is single track, making Nambour a busy location for passing trains. The station has a fenced off holding yard to stable trains overnight, a large commuter car park and easy access to the main street of town, meaning you'll easily find somewhere to grab a bite to eat before catching a train back to the city. Travel off-peak using a Go card, and you'll be treated to some of the postcard views of the Glasshouse Mountains between Caboolture and Eudlo that so often feature on rail travel posters for Queensland Rail's longer distance travel trains, all for a fraction of the price.

That's me about to board The Sunlander at Nambour Railway Station in 2014 for one last trip to Cairns before the train is retired.

With the Big Pineapple is situated only a few km out of town, and the beaches and shops of Maroochydore just 13 km away, Nambour is a convenient stepping off point for exploring all that the Sunshine Coast has to offer. For this Sunshine Coaster however, Nambour was the hopping on point when taking one last trip on The Sunlander to Cairns. Although The Sunlander will disappear into the history pages after her final run south on December 31, 2014, the Spirit of Queensland, Spirit of the Outback, along with the Rockhampton and Bundaberg Tilt Trains will continue to stop at Nambour on their way north from Brisbane. And to fully appreciate travelling by train along Queensland's Coast, there is always my book, Train Tripping Coastal Queensland.

Available from only $0.99 through


2014: Australia's Top 20 Intercity Trains

After compiling a list of Australia's Top 20 Train Journeys, my thoughts turned to the dozens of trains that make it possible for riders to venture to their state capital for a day of shopping, sightseeing and sporting events; the often overlooked Intercity Trains of Australia. Although these trains don't feature the luxuries of their long distance cousins (such as food service, choice of seating or sleeping compartments), they do offer a premium level of travel comfort compared to what is considered a suburban train. Cloth seating, armrests and wider windows treat passengers to some spectacular scenery that is often within easy reach of Australia's capital cities, and at a budget price too! Fancy a day trip from Sydney to the Blue Mountains for only $5.67 each way? You'd better believe it. These Top 20 Intercity Trains represent some of the best value train travel Down Under.

Calculated using a formula that compares the cost per km and cost per hour against a one way off-peak fare, the lowest ranking score represents what in my opinion is the best-value Intercity train service in Australia. It made it possible to put a VLine train to Geelong up against a Sydney Trains service to Newcastle and compare which of the two offered better value for your dollar. So here is Australia's Top 20 Intercity Trains of 2014. All links below will open in a new window and take you to the full review found at .

  1. Newcastle Intercity Train (7.44) - Sydney to Newcastle - Sydney Trains
  2. Lithgow Intercity Train (7.64) - Sydney to Lithgow - Sydney Trains
  3. Scone Hunter Valley Train (10.37) - Newcastle to Scone - Sydney Trains
  4. Goulburn Intercity Train (10.43) - Sydney to Goulburn - Sydney Trains
  5. Mount Victoria Intercity Train (11.01) - Sydney to Mount Victoria - Sydney Trains
  6. Kiama Intercity Train (11.75) - Sydney to Kiama - Sydney Trains
  7. Katoomba Intercity Train (14.61) - Sydney to Katoomba - Sydney Trains
  8. Port Kembla Intercity Train (18.80) - Sydney to Port Kembla - Sydney Trains
  9. Wyong Intercity Train (19.20) - Sydney to Wyong - Sydney Trains
  10. Central Coast Intercity Train (24.64) - Gosford to Newcastle - Sydney Trains
  11. Dungog Hunter Valley Train (29.09) - Newcastle to Dungog - Sydney Trains
  12. Gosford Intercity Train (59.92) - Sydney to Gosford - Sydney Trains
  13. Gympie North Intercity Train (60.70) - Brisbane to Gympie - QR TRANSLink
  14. Geelong VLine Train (64.84) - Melbourne to Geelong (Marshall) - VLine
  15. Echuca VLine Train (75.76) - Melbourne to Echuca - VLine
  16. Seymour VLine Train (83.40) - Melbourne to Seymour - VLine
  17. Ballarat VLine Train (87.97) - Melbourne to Ballarat (Wendouree) - VLine
  18. Nambour Intercity Train (89.14) - Brisbane to Nambour - QR TRANSLink
  19. Traralgon VLine Train (93.83) - Melbourne to Traralgon - VLine
  20. Bendigo VLine Train (104.56) - Melbourne to Bendigo (Eaglehawk) - VLine

Honorable Mentions:

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

2014: Australia's Top 20 Train Journeys

As a writer and a lifelong railway enthusiast, I thought it was about time that I finally left the sanctuary of my keyboard and headed off to explore Australia by train in-between working on my next novel. What resulted was my first non-fiction book, Train Tripping Coastal Queensland, a new blog, Train Tripping Down Under, and this; a list of Australia's Top 20 Best Value Train Journeys.

Calculated using a formula that compares the cost per km and cost per hour against each one way economy seat fare, the lowest ranking score represents what in my opinion is the best-value train journey in Australia. It made it possible to put the Indian-Pacific up against the XPT to Grafton and compare which of the two offered better value for your dollar. Of course there needed to be some form of criteria in selecting which trains would make the list. So in considering what constituted a traditional long distance train journey, I felt each train had to offer passengers a choice of on-board food service, seating selection, (or even sleeping compartments) and travel further than what would otherwise be considered for selection in my Top 20 Intercity Trains list. So here is Australia's Top 20 Train Journeys of 2014. All links below will open in a new window and take you to the full review found at .

  1. The Overland (58.57) - Adelaide to Melbourne - Great Southern Rail
  2. The Inlander (59.10) - Townsville to Mount Isa - Queensland Rail
  3. The Westlander (60.10) - Brisbane to Charleville - Queensland Rail
  4. Spirit of the Outback (71.01) - Brisbane to Longreach - Queensland Rail
  5. The Sunlander (78.11) - Brisbane to Cairns - Queensland Rail
  6. Albury Wodonga VLine Train (87.09) - Melbourne to Albury - VLine
  7. The Northerner (88.25) - Melbourne to Swan Hill - VLine
  8. Casino XPT (89.71) - Sydney to Casino - NSW TrainLink
  9. Outback Xplorer (91.72) - Sydney to Broken Hill - NSW TrainLink
  10. Brisbane XPT (93.33) - Sydney to Brisbane - NSW TrainLink
  11. The Gippslander (97.12) - Melbourne to Bairnsdale - VLine
  12. Goulburn Valley Limited (99.14) - Melbourne to Shepparton - VLine
  13. Warrnambool VLine Train (108.21) - Melbourne to Warrnambool - VLine
  14. The Indian-Pacific (108.46) - Sydney to Perth - Great Southern Rail
  15. Grafton XPT (115.24) - Sydney to Grafton - NSW TrainLink
  16. Southern XPT (118.24) - Sydney to Melbourne - NSW TrainLink
  17. Moree NorthWest Xplorer (134.55) - Sydney to Moree - NSW TrainLink
  18. Armidale NorthWest Xplorer (137.66) - Sydney to Armidale - NSW TrainLink
  19. Griffith Xplorer (143.18) - Sydney to Griffith - NSW TrainLink
  20. Western XPT (150.15) - Sydney to Dubbo - NSW TrainLink

Honorable Mentions: