Traveller Letters: Nine hours to travel 600 km? Australian trains are a disgrace

LETTER OF THE WEEK

NOT SO FAST

There is no doubt the train journey between Coffs Harbour and Sydney is one of the loveliest in NSW. But as a commute between the north coast and Sydney, it's an absolute embarrassment. It takes about nine hours, if it's on time, for the 608 kilometre-trip in rail stock nearly 40 years old on tracks put down in the 19th century. There are also several layovers as you wait for a passing train on the single line track. A trip roughly the same distance in Japan takes 2 hours 15 minutes; South Korea, about 2 hours and 50 minutes; and from Paris to Lyon in France, 1 hour 50 minutes. Our approach, or lack of one, to high speed rail in Australia is a national disgrace.

Gary Gibbs, Rozelle, NSW

TAKING CREDITS

Like many travellers who had cancelled flights from the original Virgin, we were given a future credit (Traveller Letters, April 10). This week we were able to book a Queensland holiday for the next school holidays in July using the credits. You've got to understand that the new Virgin can only offer so many credits on a flight as it needs to keep its cash flow going. My suggestion to anyone booking is to be flexible and, as always, book early.

Allen Perry, McKinnon, VIC

We have credits with both Qantas and Virgin. With both companies, when I looked into using the credits, the cheap flight prices I had seen almost doubled in price if I wanted to use the credit. It's something to be aware of so do choose wisely when using your credits. Also, Virgin credits were moved from my Velocity account to a different Virgin Travel Bank account. An email was sent about it in October last year so Kevin McQuillan (Traveller Letters, April 10) may not have lost his Virgin credits. They should be in this new account, the email was titled "Your future flight credit".

Janette Asche, Indooroopilly QLD

Read more about the situation with Virgin Australia flight credits here.

BEECHWORTH ITS WEIGHT

A special rave is owed to staff at the Beechworth Tourist Information Centre in Victoria, for going above and beyond to find last minute ANZAC Day weekend accommodation. This was necessary after accommodation in nearby Stanley, booked months ago and fully paid, was suddenly cancelled without warning or justification by the operator. The weekend had been booked to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary with our bridesmaids and their partners, who were coming from as far afield as Sydney, Melbourne and Wagga. The house we booked in the middle of Stanley was an excellent location, so a special rant goes to the owner and his house. When the circumstances were explained to the Beechworth Information Centre staff, they said they usually provide information only on accommodation but given the circumstances they would do their best to rescue the situation, which they did within an hour. We now have the pleasure of a great weekend in historic Yackandandah.

John Baker, Croydon, NSW

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OVER HERE OR OVER THERE?

I refer to Jo Webster's letter (Traveller Letters, April 17) on domestic versus overseas content in Traveller. As much as we'd all love to be able to travel internationally, right now we can't. Until there is certainty around vaccinations and travel bubbles we should be encouraging all Aussies (and now Kiwis) to invest back into our local tourism industry. Traveller is doing a great job focusing on local travel options, especially those that haven't previously made the grade. Please keep it up.

Jo Lees, Rockdale, NSW

I agree with Jo Webster. We have travelled extensively in Australia and New Zealand for decades and, now that we're retired, we find it too expensive. Once COVID-19 restrictions have eased we will be looking forward again to lots of great deals for overseas trips and cruises visiting cultures, sights and foods that are different from our own. Isn't that the point of travelling in the first place?

Marianne Gifford, Melbourne, VIC

As much as we all love international travel, it has been great to see so many Australian regions recently covered in your publication. Every part of this country is full of history, fabulous landscapes, friendly people and good food and wine. I see heaps of New York caps being proudly worn in Australia - why not instead wear one from New Norfolk or New Lambton?

Adam Herron, Ashfield, NSW

I agree wholeheartedly with Jo Webster. I have been feeling exactly the same way and wondered how I could submit a letter without sounding ungrateful for the efforts of our travel writers during our annus horribilis of 2020. It is time to move on now. I am sure the vast majority of Australian's that travel internationally on a regular basis have had, or are in the process of having their COVID jabs, and we are itching to get moving. The borders will open. We cannot be kept locked up indefinitely, So yes, more international stories please, inspire us once again and whet our appetites

Ruth Green, Beechworth, VIC

ROAD RAVE

I would like to thank Trevor Taylor, Port Macquarie, NSW (Traveller Letters, March 6) for his suggested itinerary for a road trip through the back roads of NSW South West Slopes and Monaro regions. Over the Easter break we followed his suggestions and had a wonderful time. A highlight was the Yarrangobilly Caves in the Snowy Mountains National Park, with thermal pools and wonderful caves to explore. We had planned to return to Sydney via Jenolan Caves, but had to postpone due to road damage after the recent floods. Trevor's suggestions gave us a greater appreciation of some of the lesser known parts of our lovely state.

Elizabeth Stevens, Loftus, NSW

BLOCKED OUT

The letter by Wendy Bull (Traveller Letters, April 17) detailed some interesting tours around Hobart. However it must have all happened a few years ago, as visitor access to the Cadbury factory near MONA closed in 2015. Disappointing, but no doubt a reflection of overseas ownership and public liability awareness.

Bruce Fairhall, Dapto, NSW

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