Spirit of Queensland - an awesome way to see Queensland from top to bottom!
Updated: Nov 2, 2022
In October, 2022 I went on the very wonderful Spirit of Queensland train from Cairns to Brisbane. It was a very exciting trip and there was so much to see along the way. I went with my mum and we sat in one of the very lovely Railbed carriages . The journey took 26 hours and covered 1,681 kilometres.
The train left from the Cairns Central train station at 8.35am. When we got to the station at 8am we saw the train and walked along the platform until we found our carriage, which was Carriage B. At 8.15am we were able to board the train.
They had a ramp set up for some people to use if they needed it.
A nice man called John, who was the Passenger Services Coordinator in charge of looking after us, helped us lift our suitcases onto the carriage and told us we could put them on the luggage rack. You can also check them in to the luggage carriage if you want to.
John said Dad was allowed to come on the train and see the carriage.
We looked for our seat numbers and when we found them Mum and I were sitting near each other with an aisle in between but John asked if we would like to have two seats together and a nice lady called Alison swapped with me so I could sit right next to mum.
Dad said goodbye and hopped off the train because he wasn't coming to Brisbane even though I think he wanted to. He took a photo of us through the window and waved goodbye to us.
The seats were very comfortable and there was so much room that we could stretch our legs out and not even touch the chair in front. There were footrests to use too which were very nice.
There was plenty of room for our backpacks on the floor near our seats and there were overhead cupboards if you needed them as well.
There were power points on our seats so we got our chargers out and plugged them in so we could charge our phones along the way. There were screens on the back of the chairs in front of us and they gave us headphones to use so we could watch the movies and tv shows and listen to the music they had.
I also had my own headphones to plug into my phone so I could listen to my own music on my phone. There were remotes on the seats to use to turn on the screens and choose what to watch or listen to. There were also buttons on the chairs to move the chairs up and down and backwards and forwards and to move the footrests so you could get comfortable. The chairs also had a tray table in them that you used when it was meal time. It was a bit tricky to get it out of the seat because you had to push it down and then pull it all the way up before you could lay it across. Mum showed me how and helped me the first few times until I got used to doing it. There were also pockets on the backs of the seats in front where you could put things and little holders on the arms of the chairs to put your phone and water bottles. It was a bit like being on a plane but the seats were much bigger and there weren't any seatbelts.
Just after the train left Cairns Central we got morning tea. I had a Sticky Date and Ginger gluten free cookie and it was delicious. Mum had some biscuits too and we had a cup of tea each.
On our seats we got a special bag of Bubbles Organic products. There was hand sanitiser and hand cream and some awesome lip balm, and a facewasher. I really liked them and used them a lot.
There was a menu in the pocket of the seat in front and after morning tea John came around and asked us to choose what we would like for lunch. There were a lot of nice choices and Mum and I decided to have the Tuscan chicken with steamed rice and Mum chose the White Chocolate Panna Cotta and I chose a gluten free blondie for my dessert.
The first station the train stopped at was Gordonvale, which is not very far from Cairns. We stayed on the train and some people got on. On the entertainment screens they had some information about lots of places the train stopped at. It told you about some of the natural features, industry or tourism information about the towns along the way. I liked listening to that.
For the first few hours of the train trip we saw lots of sugarcane and bananas growing and beautiful mountains and rivers. It was very green and very pretty.
At Tully we were allowed to get off the train and walk around. it was a very nice station with lots of hanging plants and I used the toilets there. They were nice and clean.
When the train went through Cardwell we could see the ocean.
At 12.30 we got our Tuscan chicken lunch and it was very yummy. Mum really liked it too. We could have beer, wine, soft drink or juice with our lunch and I had an orange juice.
During the afternoon we listened to music, looked out the window at the view and watched movies. It was very relaxing. Sometimes the Wifi cut out when we were trying to have a phone call and sometimes it took a few tries to send messages too but that happens when we drive along that road as well.
During the afternoon the staff changed over and a nice lady named Claire got on to take care of us. She was very helpful, just like John, and she took brought us out dinner and stayed on board overnight to serve us our breakfast too.
We had water bottles in our railbed seats and could get more when we needed it but there was also a water fountain to use if you wanted a drink. They had little cups to use and a rubbish bin nearby.
When we stopped at Townsville we got off the train and walked around the platform again. We were there for about 10 minutes and it was good to have a walk. When we went through Townsville we saw the Cowboy's stadium.
There were lots of signs on the train to tell you where things were. They were different colours and some had writing. Some of them were braille so people with low vision could read them as well.
There was also a sign at the front of the carriage that told you what the next station was.
During the afternoon we went to the Cafe carriage and I bought a chocolate brownie and an apple juice. It was a nice place to sit and talk to some other passengers. Everyone on the train is allowed to go there to buy some meals and snacks and drinks. It is open most of the day and part of the night. They have tables to sit at and it is busy there. We had to line up for about 10 minutes and wait to be buy our snacks and luckily someone left their table so we could sit down because at first all the tables were full.
Just after 6pm we had our dinner. Mum and I had Roasted Pork Loin and I had Sticky Date Pudding for dessert and Mum had Chocolate Brownie. It was so delicious and I really enjoyed it very much. After dinner we all got a yummy chocolate too.
After dinner I had a shower on The Spirit of Queensland train and it was very nice. There was a lock on the door for privacy and inside there was a mirror and lots of bright lights. There was a little shelf in the room for me to put my clothes and towel on so they stayed dry and there was soap to use in a soap dispenser. It was a bit wobbly because the train was moving but I liked it. The water was very hot and nice and there was a shower curtain to pull across so the floor didn't get too wet. They had towels for us to use too.
I also used the toilets on the train a lot. They were very clean and had good lights in them. There was a sink and soap and a big blue button to push to flush the toilet and there were lots of signs in there too.
When the train stopped in Mackay we went for a very quick walk on the platform. It was dark then and it had started raining a bit so we didn't go far.
Getting on and off the train was easy for me. There was a grabrail to hold onto next to the door and there were steps to use.
Not long after we left Mackay two men came through the carriage and turned our seats into railbeds. It was very cool to watch. They used a remote control to do it and they let me help and press the buttons to do Mum's. It only took about 30 seconds to change and then they put the sheets and a doona and pillows on the bed.
It was very lovely to lay down on the bed and relax. I kept listening to my music for a while and then I brushed my teeth and got ready to go to sleep.
Most of the lights were turned off but there were still lights on the floor and along the aisle and the lights in the hallway near the toilets were on. I had a nice sleep and I was very glad to be in the railbed. I didn't get up until the next morning around 6am when I needed to use the bathroom. Not long after that the men came around and changed the beds back into chairs again for us so we could have our breakfast. I was a bit cold so I got the very soft blanket out of the overhead cupboard and put it over my legs.
I had the hot breakfast and it was very yummy. There was a gluten free roll and I had some butter and jam on it, a hash brown and a sausage and omelette. I also had a cup of tea and some more water.
The scenery was very nice even though it was a bit rainy in the morning and there were lots of cows to see.
The train was running about an hour late so they made an announcement that we wouldn't be arriving at Roma Street until about 10.15.
The last part of the train trip was from the Sunshine Coast to Brisbane and the train had to go slower because it was busier. There were a lot of shops and train stations and some buildings to see. It was very exciting when we saw the very tall buildings in the city getting closer and closer.
Once the train arrived at Roma St Station we were allowed to get off. We got our suitcases off the luggage rack and left the train for the very last time. Some people who had checked their luggage in had to go and collect it from a different carriage but we walked straight out.
There were lots of taxis waiting there so we got in one and went to our hotel.
I was so excited to get to Brisbane and I really enjoyed travelling on the Spirit of Queensland. It was fantastic trip and I really want to go on it again some day. I think the best part about it was having a rail bed that was so nice to sleep on and getting to have a shower on the train. I also really loved the food and looking at the beautiful mountains and scenery out the window. It was a nice way to travel and it was very relaxing. I also liked chatting to the other passengers in our carriage. The staff were also very friendly and helpful and it was nice to meet them too.
I think it would be great if there was a map that could show you the route of the train and all the stops you would be going through. We looked on the Spirit of Queensland timetable on the Queensland Rail travel website and that told us all the stations and what time we would go through them but it would be good to have that information on the screen or on a map on the wall or to see it easily and maybe a map that could show how far you have travelled like they have on the screens in the planes.
I also think it would be good if there was an App to order food and drinks as that is an easier form of ordering for me rather than using verbal communication.
Tips from my travelling companion -
The train journey from Cairns to Brisbane on The Spirit of Queensland was a fantastic adventure for Flynn and myself. We were very impressed with the service and the comfort of the Railbed seats and carriage. The staff were extremely professional and accommodating to us and more than willing to cater for Flynn's additional needs. They were very patient when communicating with him and invited him to participate in helping to convert the seats into beds. We also noticed how they also helped a few other passengers on our carriage. The food was excellent and they catered well for Flynn's dietary requirements. We were pleasantly surprised at how quiet the train was, as it was not at all noisy like most of the trains we had travelled on before. It was so quiet we felt we almost had to whisper so as not to disturb the passengers around us! This made for a very relaxing and calm environment.
The railbed seats were very comfortable and so spacious. There was plenty of legroom and space for bags, etc. Once the chairs were converted into beds it was obviously more squashy, but there was still room to move past the bed to get to the aisle without disturbing the person sleeping there. It was great to be able to lay down instead of having to sit up for the night and there were lovely doonas and pillows to make the trip more comfortable. The mattress was quite firm but overall it was a pleasant bed and definitely a great experience.. Flynn said he managed to get quite a lot of sleep but as I am a very light sleeper I found I dozed most of the night, as there were still some lights on the floor and occasionally you could hear other people coughing, talking or walking around. I think if you were a sound sleeper this would not be an issue or I advise you bring along earplugs.
The toilets were very clean and well appointed. The individual toilets and showers were well lit, which Flynn liked, as he often hesitates to enter bathrooms that are dimly lit. The Disability accessible toilet/shower room on the other hand was not as light, especially in the shower area, and Flynn did not want to use that. I didn't use the shower on the train but noticed there wasn't a grabrail in there and because it is quite wobbly when the train is going fast I think it would be beneficial to have one. There was one in the Disability toilet/shower area though,
Flynn and I, along with 25 others from the disability services sector, are participating in the Spirit of Queensland Equivalent Access Consultation where we have the opportunity to provide feedback to Queensland Rail on the accessibility barriers within the existing Spirit of Queensland train.
The suggestions provided in the workshops will be used by Queensland Rail to address some of the non-compliance for the Spirit of Queensland against the Disability Standards for Accessible Public Transport (DSAPT).
Because we are part of this group, we were able to go Cairns Station to see the train prior to our journey which was extremely beneficial for Flynn, as he got to see what the carriages/bathrooms/showers, etc were like. He had a chance to ask the staff questions about the journey, see the railbed seats in their upright position as chairs and also one that was made up as a bed, and become familiar without any crowds or people around.
They made Flynn feel at ease and like a VIP, which he loved. They pointed out many features of the train to him and also told him he could familiarise himself with the layout of the Spirit of Queensland by checking out the virtual tour of the train on the Queensland Rail website. Flynn really loved that and spent a lot of time looking at the virtual tour and showing his family before he travelled. It was a fabulous way to prepare for the journey.
The other passengers we chatted to all enjoyed their trip on The Spirit of Queensland as well and many of them were repeat travellers as they love it so much. I think it's a great way to travel, especially if you like to take in the sights and scenery along the way without the stress of driving. It was certainly a great way to relax and unwind!