Canberra by Train (15 July 2016)

The NSW TrainLink Southern Highlands Explorer at Sydney’s Central Station

Friday 15 July, 2016

I’ve been to Canberra many times over the years and I enjoy the drive down. But it occurred to me one day earlier in the year that taking the train down would be an interesting way to see the scenery of both the Southern Highlands and then what is known as Capital Country beyond Goulburn.

So, Trev and I boarded a train today at Central Station, leaving Sydney a little after 7:00am and it wasn’t long before we were out in the countryside after making our first pick-up at Campbelltown. The southern highlands are spectacular during the winter, and the train took us through Mittagong, Bowral, Moss Vale, Bundanoon and other well-known highlands locales, making only a handful of stops before pulling into Goulburn, a few minutes’ late, which put an end to any chance of stretching our legs a little.


From Goulburn (which, perversely, is home to both the NSW Police Academy and a Super Max prison – the contrast between the two facilities, on opposite ends of town, couldn’t be greater) the train veers off towards Queanbeyan, following the back road (which happens to be one of my favourite roads in the country) through Lake Bathurst, Tarago and Bungendore, before arriving in Queanbeyan.

At times, the rail line follows the road, but at other times, especially during the last few minutes before arriving in Queanbeyan, we followed the path of a spectacular creek, and popped out of the scrub to pull into Queanbeyan station. By car, it’s a route full of great scenery and by train it’s even more spectacular.

Stopover in Goulburn

Canberra station is at Kingston, about twenty minutes’ on from Queanbeyan, and is incredibly Spartan in its appointments compared to Central’s mammoth terminus. In fact, the cabbie who took us on the short hop across to Canberra Airport to pick up our hire car seemed to think that if it hadn’t been for ACT government grants, there wouldn’t even be a train service from Sydney down to our nation’s capital.

That would be a shame because it’s a scenic and relaxing journey of just over four hours, and one that takes all the hassle out of driving. You can sit back in chairs that recline a lot further than I expected, and enjoy the ride.

If you have the time and happen to enjoy both riding trains and the picturesque southern countryside, I can’t recommend the trip enough.

Spectacular Southern Highlands scenery

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