silvery tube of airconditioned luxury, fine food and fine wine that snakes 4352km across the continent between Perth and Sydney through scenery as diverse as deserts, the rural heartland of New South Wales, legendary mining towns, the lush majesty of the Blue Mountains and the sprawling emptiness of the Nullarbor Plain.
Platinum Service has large private cabins with full ensuites and pampering service.
Gold Service passengers have private twin-sleeper cabins with ensuites and showers. Both have access to the plush Queen Adelaide restaurant car and the Outback Explorer lounge with complimentary meals, beers, standard wines, tea and coffee.
Red Service has comfortable reclining day-nighter seats with plenty of leg room, hot showers in each carriage and the Matilda Cafe, with meals, snacks, soft and alcoholic drinks for purchase. Fares from $899- $3999 (greatsouthernrail.com.au). Business class flights Sydney-Perth on same day – Qantas $1429, Virgin $1999. No reference to illustrious trains is complete without mentioning the classic Art Deco Venice Simplon-OrientExpress, possibly the benchmark of sequined and dinner-jacketed style on rails.
Board the British Pullman train at London’s Victoria Station bound for Gare de l’Est in Paris, where French chefs on the Orient Express prepare the Michelin-grade menu to be served in one of three sumptuous 1920s dining cars.
Start with bellinis by the baby grand piano in the Art Nouveau bar car before the four-course dinner served attentively but unpretentiously by white-gloved waiters (think lobster, scallops and caviar).
Slip between crisp damask sheets in the vintage polished oak and mahogany-panelled cabin amid crystal glassware, silk lampshades and large picture windows and wake to breakfast in bed before the train arrives in Venice.
“The Orient Express is a fabulous train,” Smith says. Fares from $3080- $6190pp include all table d’hote meals (belmond.com, freecall 1800 000 395). British Airways has business class fares London to Venice from $967.