It's not often that a serious contender for membership of the exclusive "great rail journeys of the world" club comes rolling down the track. The last Australian candidates to qualify were the Indian Pacific, which will notch up its first half-century next year, and the Ghan, which turned 90 this year.
Yet the brand new service of the Great Southern, stretching well over 700 metres in length and launched by the same operators as those two other venerable Australian rail cruises (as such epic journeys are now known), is a real contender.
It recently departed Adelaide en route to Brisbane, a distance of almost 3000 kilometres - roughly the same distance the Ghan travels between Adelaide and Darwin.
The three-day, two-night 57-hour trip of the Great Southern includes exclusive off-train experiences in Victoria's Grampians as well as in Canberra and its environs, and the popular NSW coastal resort town of Coffs Harbour.
The Great Southern service occupies the seasonal hiatus left by the Ghan which hibernates for much of the summer, in part due to the effects of the Top End wet season and the extreme heat of the interior.
The facilities aboard Great Southern, which also performs the reverse journey from Brisbane to Adelaide are luxurious, if you're able to afford the premium platinum class price-tag.
Some of the surprisingly spacious platinum compartments feature double beds and sizeable bathrooms with hotel-style toiletries and proper shower cubicles. Indeed, some of Great Southern's platinum carriages, have recently had their elegant Woods Bagot-designed interiors refurbished as a cost of $2 million each. Talk about southern comforts.
A three-day, two-night journey aboard the Great Southern between Adelaide and Brisbane fares start from $1,869 per person twin share. Anthony Dennis travelled as a guest of Journey Beyond. See journeybeyond.com.au