Truly one of the world's great train journeys, the Indian Pacific, which last year marked its 50th year of operation, is famous around the world for being the train that spans a continent.
Yet with three borders - NSW, South Australia and Western Australian - to traverse, the luxury train service, covering an epic 4352 kilometres between Sydney-Perth-Sydney, has been stalled on the tracks in the past year due to the vagaries of the pandemic and state border closures.
Now with those domestic border closures becoming less frequent, and even non-existent, (at least at the time of writing) Journey Beyond, operators of the Indian Pacific as well as the Ghan and the Great Southern, are counting on 2022 to deliver a much smoother trans-continental run.
"Following a year of lockdown, people are now eager to travel and we are heavily booked for the remainder of 2021," says Peter Egglestone, chief commercial officer of Journey Beyond.
A trip on one of the trio of trains is nowadays as much about what happens on the tracks as what there is to see off them, with each journey providing a wealth of off-train experiences.
Passengers can complete their Indian Pacific journey from Sydney with a visit to Rottnest Island aboard the Rottnest Express fast ferry or in Sydney cruise the Harbour aboard a 78 foot luxury vessel, with both water-based experiences also operated by Journey Beyond. Or, if travelling on the Ghan, passengers from the train can view the sunset over Darwin Harbour, before or after their journey on the train, from a cruise boat.
And the action isn't confined to the water. There are plenty of sharply contrasting desert-based off-Ghan experiences such as small-group, fully-guided outback touring aboard four-wheel drive Mercedes Benz vehicles in Alice Springs and beyond with the Journey Beyond-owned Outback Spirit Tours.
In more good news for luxury train tragics, Egglestone says that the Ghan season will begin earlier than usual in 2022 with twice-weekly trans-continental Ghan trips in each direction running between Darwin and Adelaide from April to August.
The Great Southern, which runs between Adelaide and Brisbane and is the group's newest train, will also return for its fourth season in 2022.
Fully refundable "flexible fares" on the trains, which can be postponed or cancelled for any reason with just one day's notice are available, while those passengers holding "advance purchase" and "everyday" fares can make reservation changes at no cost up to 45 days from departure. See journeybeyondrail.com.au