Hi, eva, my 2 kids, aged 11 and 13.
Dev : thnks on sharing bus info. May be, will try a short Sydney-Canberra bus trip and from there by train to Melbourne.
Appreciate TA generally suggest travel by air. In our case, we wanted to experience "new" things. This is my kids first trip to Aust. Last year, we purposely took train from Guangzhou ( Shenzhen ) to Beijing. It was 20 ++ hours train journey but it was worthwhile for countryside view and my kids will have a chance to mingle arround with locals ( in train) . We plan to spend 4 days in Sydney and 3 days in Melbourne.
There is no direct train Canberra to Melbourne so you will have to back- track part of the way and change. But I am pretty sure you can do it in a day.
Some people don't like the XPT trains but they are perfectly fine. Just don't be surprised if there are delays.
In answer to your question - for the trip from Sydney to Melbourne there is really only Firefly and Greyhound. Premier had a timetabled operation via the South Coast but the last time I looked for that the southern end was not operating. Both companies offer an overnight and a daylight service.
Countrylink is a good option for four of you - despite what other TA's have said. There are more views than railway cuttings, and it does pass through a variety of scenery and farming activity. When booking aim to get the four seats on the same side of the train and you can face each other.
There is a good range of accommodation near Southern Cross Railway Station in Melbourne.
In reading the last few posts, a stopover in Canberra is a good idea and things for the kids to see and do. You couild still travel by train to Canberra (a different train to the XPT) but the connection from Canberra to Melbourne starts with a coach from Canberra then meets the XPT train on the way. None of that is a problem and it does show some extra scenery and activity.
While in Sydney, if you were considering the Blue Mountains it is also easy to visit by Cityrail.
Wow - what a diversity of opinions.
The scenery from the train from Sydney to Melbourne is far better than the scenery by road. The freeway is particularly dull.
The is _particularly_ true of the Sydney to Canberra trip, where the bus trip must rate as the most boring scenery ever, and the train trip is really very pretty. This is an easy section to go by train.
Delays on the train are less frequent and less extensive than plane delays. However, people seem to expect planes to be late and trains to run on time.
If you have two adults and two kids, and go by sleeper train to Melbourne, you will get your own toilet and shower. This is quite pleasant, but the price rarely makes sense unless you like train sleepers.
The seats of a Countrylink train are perfectly comfortable. The food is reheated pre-packaged (a shame, as they used to bring fresh food on board along the way). Much the same as plane food IMO.
In NSW people on government benefits get a two return trips on the train a year, and half fare the rest of the time. For full fare paying adults, train is usually more expensive than flying. This tends to skew the demographic on trains, but they are very supervised and you'd be unlikely to have a problem.Edited: 05 October 2012, 11:13
14 hours on a bus with 2 kids........ All I can say is good luck.
I think two people can go on the same train ride and have two very different experiences. With vivid memories of some European train trips I embarked on my first long distance Australian train journey which was Sydney to Brisbane. Oh how I wanted to get off that train, from about one hour out of Sydney. I felt the train rocked all the way, it made me almost seasick. I thought the food was bad, the scenery was ok but every time I wanted to really look at the scenery it wizzed by it, every time it was boring we slowed down, or so it seemed to me. My travelling companion loved every minute of it, thought the rocking motion was "comforting" found the views amazing, loved the food, thought the toilets were just fine, and decided to catch the train back from Brisbane as well. Needless to say, I took a plane, but I have always looked back on that train trip with some amusement. Since then, I accept that sometimes the journey is just as important as the destination, even when the journey is not so comfortable.
Hi, really appreciate valuable comments / advices from all and have decided as follows ( Nov trip ) :
Sydney to Melbourne : booked XPT train ( surprisingly, 2A+2C = family fare
AUS$ 235 ! ( 2C = free ) )
Melbourne to Sydney : booked Jestar.
Will do a day-trip to Canberra by bus while in Sydney.
Once again, thnks to all.
Hi. I'm not sure what your overall time available is, but the day trip to Canberra, while doable for those who are keen, is a long day. The drive is over 3 hours each way, more for a coach tour with morning and afternoon tea stops, and the tours of the attractions are not particularly tailored towards kids, so for a family group with the time to do so I would recommend an independent visit. Also if you are going to Melbourne it makes no sense to me to go back and forth so much. What about a train to Canberra for the experience of seeing the countryside, then have a look around Canberra at the things that interest you and your kids, then fly from Canberra to Melbourne. That would seem to cover all your wants with no wasted time or backtracking I think?
Edit: Or, if you are flying back to Sydney from Melbourne, you could fly Melbourne-Canberra-Sydney.Edited: 06 October 2012, 10:57
Hi, we have 4 nites in Sydney and 3 nites in Melbourne. Thnks for all comments and info. Will adjust as necessary, including suggestion to take train to Canberra instead of bus.