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Australia by Rail

Australia by Rail

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Sample itinerary


Contents list | Introduction | Sample itinerary | Major routes & services | Tour and itinerary options


THE SUNSHINE ROUTE: BRISBANE TO CAIRNS

Brisbane to Bundaberg [Map 40]

Going north from Brisbane the first stop is Caboolture which marks the end of the Citytrain intensive suburban network, though outer urban services continue further north. North of Caboolture look out for the Glasshouse Mountains, curious volcanic peaks so named by Captain James Cook on 17 May 1770. They are to the left ahead about 21km after leaving Caboolture following a section where very fast running is noticeable after leaving the comparative congestion of suburbia. There are pineapple farms in the foreground. You may also notice Beerwah shortly after, on the right, home of the famous Australia Zoo (see p146).

Inter-urban trains and the Rockhampton Tilt Train stop at Landsborough (82km from Brisbane), from where Trainlink buses (not covered by rail passes) serve the Sunshine Coast up to Maroochydore. Nambour (104km) is the main transfer station for Trainlink buses to the coast further north at Noosa Heads. (These services are covered by Translink tickets).

After Yandina (112km; see p269), a local stop just north of Nambour, there is a long slow climb up the Eumundi Ranges, past Cooroy and Pomona to the old gold-mining town of Gympie. In Pomona note the old cinema in the town street on the right, whilst on the west of the track appears the distinctive shape of Mt Tiboorbargan, popular with hill climbers. The walking track to the top is clearly visible from the train.

The main station at Gympie is now Gympie North, 173km from Brisbane and some 3km from town, which replaced the original station when this part of the North Coast line was electrified and realigned in 1989. A bus link (covered by your ticket) connects with all trains and serves the old station at the north end of the town centre. From here the Mary Valley Heritage Railway (see p266) operates to Imbil.

Although Gympie itself is by-passed by the realigned North Coast line glimpses of the town may be seen on the left before Gympie North. Gympie is a friendly town, full of historic relics. They hold an annual show in late May and a Gold Rush week in mid-October. Local fruits, orange and pineapple, are plentiful and cheap. Gympie is worth a day trip from Brisbane or a break of journey en route to north Queensland. However, the train service is limited and better suited to an overnight stay in Gympie (see timetable p151). The Railway Hotel (tel 07-5482 7677) adjoins the old station, with bedrooms at $20 a night. North of Gympie the train passes, but no longer stops at, Theebine Junction for the line to Kingaroy.

The next stop is Maryborough West, 262km, the station for Fraser Island. QR operates the Trainlink bus service to Maryborough and Hervey Bay, including Urangan with its long pier to which the railway used to extend. Buses connect with the Sunlander and the Rockhampton Tilt Train. Maryborough, established in 1843, is one of Queensland's oldest cities with many historic buildings, traditional Queensland homes and pub-style hotels.

Hervey Bay, one of the world's best places to view migrating humpback whales between August and October, is 40-45 minutes by connecting bus from Maryborough West station and is the ferry embarkation point for the nearby World Heritage site Fraser Island, the world's largest sand island covering 16,300 square kilometres.

After Maryborough there follows some fast running, with possibly a conditional stop at Howard, a pleasant little town with historic buildings and a friendly little Grand Hotel (tel 07-4129 4906) in the main street a few hundred metres from the station. Single rooms cost $30 a night and they serve a good lunch in the dining room.

Bundaberg, a major stop and main terminus of the evening Tilt Train from Brisbane is in the heart of the sugar country and home of Queensland's famous rum. Tours at the distillery are held hourly between 10.00 and 14.00; for further details contact the Visitor Centre (tel 07-4131 2999, www.bundaberg.com.au). If you want to see how they make the rum, and to taste it, you should stay the night, since the days on which a break of several hours can be taken during daytime are limited. A six-hour break northbound from 15.25 to 21.25 is possible on a Sunday while a longer break, leaving Bundaberg for the north around midnight is possible on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday. Southbound no break longer than just over an hour is possible without staying overnight or leaving after midnight.

There are numerous motels within a couple of hundred metres of the station. Chalet Motor Inn (tel 07-4152 9922) offers quiet comfort and convenience for less than $70. Next door is Best Western's Bundaberg Motor Inn (tel 02-4152 5011 or tel 1800 814 930) with rooms from $76, and nearby the Rendez-vous licensed restaurant forms part of the Sugar Country Motor Inn and Convention Centre (tel 07-4153 1166); turn left at the level crossing along Bourbong St for these and several others. Alternatively, right opposite the station is the Federal Hotel (tel 07-4151 6010), which has only backpacker accommodation but its Squatters Bar & Bistro offers great meals and snacks at attractive prices (from chicken burger at $3 to reef and beef for $18. Being popular with railway workers is usually a good sign. Adjoining it, Matilda Motel (tel 07-4151 4717) offers excellent moderately-priced single and twin units. Two blocks further down Bourbong St to the right, Grand Central Bar & Grill (tel 07-4151 2441) has good pub tucker but with only backpacker accommodation.

Bundaberg is also famous for whale watching. Tour packages are available covering arrival and departure transfers, two- or three-nights accommodation, breakfasts and lunch and cruises to Platypus Bay off Fraser Island and Lady Musgrave Island in the coral reefs of the Capricorn group. For the prices of these and other attractions, the tourist information centre (freecall 1800 060 499) near the station on Bourbong St is your best source.

Australia by Rail

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