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TRAVEL & LEISURE

This Luxe and Leisurely Trip Will Take You Across the Outback on One of Australia's Oldest Trains

It's the Spirit of Progress' longest-ever journey — after first carrying passengers back in 1937.
By Sarah Ward
February 08, 2020
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This Luxe and Leisurely Trip Will Take You Across the Outback on One of Australia's Oldest Trains

It's the Spirit of Progress' longest-ever journey — after first carrying passengers back in 1937.
By Sarah Ward
February 08, 2020
  shares

You spent 17 hours watching one of Australia's most famous trains as it travelled across the country, all as part of the slow TV trend. Now, you can splash out and spend seven-to-nine days leisurely riding the rails through the outback yourself. And while you're lapping up the scenery at a very relaxed pace, you'll be doing so on another historic vehicle — one of the nation's oldest passenger locomotives.

The Spirit of Progress first went into operation back in 1937, travelling from Melbourne to Albury. Then, from 1962–1986, it made nightly journeys between Melbourne and Sydney. But it has been largely out of action since, other than commemorative trips to mark its 50th, 60th and 70th anniversaries.

This year, however, it's powering up its engines again — first retracing its familiar Melbourne–Sydney leg overnight at the end of March; then heading from Melbourne to Sydney, on to Broken Hill, then back to Sydney, all in early- to mid-July. Tickets for the first one-night trip have all been snapped up, but you can still hop onboard the second, lengthier journey, which has been dubbed the Far West Express.

Feeling like treating yo'self and seeing the countryside? If so, you'll travel 4100 kilometres if you depart from Melbourne, and 2300 kilometres if you jump on in Sydney. Run by tour operator Cruise Express, the trip includes an overnight stop in Orange on the way there and two nights in the same spot on the way back. In Broken Hill, you'll hang around for three nights — touring sights that include filming locations for both Mad Max 2 and Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.

Passengers won't just be riding on a famed 83-year-old train, either, or simply exploring the country at a slow pace — they'll be part of the Spirit of Progress' longest-ever trip.

That said, this isn't a cheap venture. Prices start at $5890 per person twin-share and $6490 for solo travellers out of Sydney, and cost $6390 per person twin-share and $7190 for solo travellers out of Melbourne.

The Spirit of Progress' Far West Express trip departs Melbourne on Wednesday, July 8 and Sydney on Thursday, July 9 — visit the tour operator's website for bookings and further details.

Published on February 08, 2020 by Sarah Ward

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