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Another Very Extended 17-Hour Train Documentary Is Coming to SBS Viceland This Summer

Plus lengthy documentaries about a boat cruise through Australia's Top End and a trip across New Zealand's north and south islands, too
By Sarah Ward
December 22, 2018
By Sarah Ward
December 22, 2018

Last summer, Australians sat down in front of their televisions to watch a famous train cross the country. And, it proved a hit. In fact, a three-hour documentary about Adelaide-to-Darwin locomotive The Ghan was such a success that SBS aired a 17-hour version that followed the entirety of the train's daytime trip. Yes, 17 whole hours. It cut out the evening parts, where the screen would just be black, for obvious reasons.

Come January 2019, The Ghan will have company in the very niche genre that is TV docos about super-lengthy Aussie train journeys — and, once again, there's two versions. Following the Indian Pacific, the transcontinental railway line that crosses Australia from Perth to Sydney, the documentary will air on SBS in a three-hour format at 7.30pm on Sunday, January 6. It'll then be followed by the entire 17-hour marathon, which'll run on SBS Viceland from a yet-to-be-confirmed time on Saturday, January 12.

Now, The Indian Pacific: Australia's Longest Train Journey could've been longer. Much, much longer. In fact, the whole 4352-kilometre trip takes 65 hours from coast to coast, with stopovers in places such as Broken Hill, Adelaide, the Barossa Valley, Kalgoorlie, Rawlinna and Cook depending on the direction of the journey. A train with a hefty history, the Indian Pacific first ran along the rails on February 23, 1970, and is now considered an Aussie icon.

The lengthy doco forms part of the slow TV movement, and it's not the only instance that's coming to SBS this summer. Like boats? Multiple types of transport? The broadcaster is also airing The Kimberley Cruise: Australia's Last Great Wilderness, which follows a Broome-to-Darwin route through the Top End; plus North to South, which ventures from Auckland on New Zealand's north island down to the Southern Alps and Milford Sound on the country's south island, including railways, sailing and driving the route. Both will screen three-hour cuts as well as lengthier versions up to 18 hours, with the Kimberley getting its time to shine on Sunday, January 13 and Saturday, January 19, and NZ in the spotlight on Sunday, January 27 and Saturday, February 2.

If that's not enough, SBS Viceland will replay the whole The Ghan experience on Saturday, January 26 too. If staring at transport trekking across landscape is your kind of thing, there's your Saturdays in January well and truly sorted.

For further details, visit the SBS website.

Image: Great Southern Rail.

Published on December 22, 2018 by Sarah Ward

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