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  • Written by Andrew Mevissen

New, history-making rail adventure to the NSW outback aboard one of Australia’s most famous trains – the Spirit of Progress - on her longest journey ever

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One of Australia’s oldest and most famous express trains, the Spirit of Progress, will make her longest-ever journey this July when she takes lovers of slow travel on a week-long heritage rail adventure to the NSW outback – the first time the legendary train has travelled west of Sydney.

A first of its kind and two years in the planning, the history-making ‘Far West Express’ rail tour has been launched by travel agency, Cruise Express, which specialises in cruise and heritage rail holidays. Cruise Express has helped resurrect the Spirit of Progress to full, interstate working order to preserve an important chapter in Australian history for future generations. The work was done in partnership with the Seymour Railway Heritage Centre.

The new ‘Far West Express’ tour follows the sell-out of two other trips between Sydney and Melbourne this March and April aboard the revitalised Spirit of Progress.

Chartered exclusively by Cruise Express, the Spirit’s gleaming, blue and gold compartment and parlor cars will take nostalgic travellers on July 9, 2020, from Sydney to Broken Hill at the start of a seven-day tour spanning a total of 2300km return – the longest trip the Spirit of Progress has ever made. Victorians can enjoy two extra, relaxing days aboard the Spirit, travelling from Melbourne to Sydney on July 8 and from the harbour capital back to Melbourne on July 16 - adding 1900km to the overall trip.  

The journey from Sydney to Broken Hill in far western NSW will take two days, with an overnight stay at accommodation in Orange. A three-night stay in the ‘Silver City’ of Broken Hill follows, with tours of the Royal Flying Doctor Service, local museums and art galleries, the hill-top Living Desert Sculptures, sunset drinks at the spectacular Mundi Mundi Plains Lookout where the film, ‘Mad Max 2’ was filmed, dinner at the iconic Palace Hotel which starred in ‘Priscilla, Queen of the Desert’ and an authentic pub meal at the famous Silverton Hotel in a quirky, ghost town deep in the outback.

Passengers then reboard Spirit of Progress, heading back to Orange for a two-night stay including visits to a local winery, with the final day of the tour spent on the train snaking across the Blue Mountains back to Sydney.

Including extensive touring, motel accommodation and most meals, the six-night ‘Far West Express’ journey from Sydney on July 8, 2020, is available from $5890 per person, twin-share, or $6490 for solo passengers. From Melbourne on July 7, 2020, the eight-night package – including a night in Sydney before and after the Broken Hill journey - is priced from $6390 per person, twin-share, and $7190 for solo travellers.

Call Cruise Express on 1300 766 537 or visit

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A glamorous icon of Australia’s golden age of rail travel, the Spirit of Progress began her life in 1937 travelling on the broad gauge run from Melbourne to Albury. In 1962, the NSW standard gauge line was extended into Victoria, allowing the Spirit of Progress to travel all the way from Melbourne to Sydney. The train then ran nightly in each direction between the capitals for 24 years until 1986 when the ‘Spirit’ made her last interstate run, never returning to Sydney, until this year.

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