The Overland Train
By Craig Payne

The Overland is an iconic train that goes between Melbourne and Adelaide in Australia and has been traveling over the path for over 130 years, starting in 1887. This train experience is through landscapes that are a significant part of Australia's heart and history. The name of this train is the 'Overland' even through it does get erroneously referred to as 'Overlander' often. The train was the country's very first interstate passenger train operating between state capitals.

The Overland train initially commenced in 1887 as soon as the railway tracks between Melbourne and Adelaide were first constructed. This train was to run as a joint venture with the Victorian Railways Organization and the South Australian Railways Corporation and at that period it was named the 'The Inter-colonial Express' and later referred to as the 'The Adelaide Express.' The Overland travels between Melbourne's Spencer Street train station (today named Southern Cross Station) and the Adelaide station in North Terrace, Adelaide. The Overland used to operated overnight and integrated sleeping carriages and sitting cars and for some years a dining carriage.

This train was re-named as 'The Overland' in 1926. In the later part of the 1940s a fresh fleet of steel made air-conditioned cars were built and included with the train. The original steam train locomotives were swapped out with diesel engines in 1953.

In 1997 the Overland was bought out by Great Southern Railway following being privatized by the government. The train currently is operated by a private business with the trading name of Journey Beyond. After 120 years of running overnight, the timetable was modified to becoming a daytime train trip. The train trip now operates twice per week each way between Melbourne's Southern Cross Station on Spencer Street to the Adelaide Parklands Station in Keswick. The train stops at a number of towns on the way to pick up and drop off passengers and goods. The train currently departs Melbourne each Tuesday and Saturday at 8:05am, arriving at Adelaide Parklands Terminal around 5:40pm. The journey continues pretty much all day. Returning, the Overland leaves Adelaide Parklands Station at 7:45am and gets to Melbourne's Southern Cross terminal at 6:50pm. The train features two classes of travel, standard and premium (first class) and it has a lounge/dining carriage.

There's a bit of political doubt regarding the Overland. Costs of air travel between Melbourne and Adelaide are priced significantly less as opposed to train prices, which makes it hard for the Overland to be competitive considering the journey times. From 2007, the train has continued to work with a $1.5 million yearly subsidy coming from the Victorian State Government. The South Australian State Government supports the Overland, included in a $1 million deal with the business. Commentary have already been made that the subsidies will not be ongoing with the present deal with the Victorian State Government set up until June 2023. The South Australian state government stopped supporting the train back in 2018. The actual argument for the subsidies is the supply of the train service to countryside communities in between Melbourne and Adelaide since some of those communities are rather dependent upon the train support since it's the only means of transportation for many people.

First published on 18 Jul 2022. For breakfast on The Overland, check here.


Planning a cruise, a tour for yourself and your loved one (or a big group of family and friends), or a personal pilgrimage? Maybe just seeking hotel accommodations, airline flights, travel insurance, or transportation rental? We can arrange any and all of that for you anywhere on the globe, so you don't have to do the heavy-lifting yourself. We cater to small or big groups, couples, families, and individuals — and we can tailor-fit the services just for your needs.

For more information, contact us now.