© istockphoto.com/ Mihails Jershovs

Southern Spirit passes through

TRAIN-SPOTTING aficionados will be clamouring for views of The Southern Spirit which is on its inaugural voyage and passing through the Northern Rivers this morning.

The train, which is en route from Alice Springs to Brisbane, will pass through Casino about 8.30am and stop at Kyogle from 9am until 9.30am before heading over the border.

The 12-carriage, 332m train is owned by Great Southern Railway and is a new venture which it hopes will become an iconic trail, much like the Ghan or the Indian-Pacific.

Fittingly, the train is passing through Kyogle as the town prepares to celebrate the centenary of its railway station this weekend.

“It was totally unknown to us,” Kyogle council tourism officer Malcolm Wallis said. “It’s good timing. It’s definitely got the attention of the townspeople.”

Mr Wallis said it highlighted the potential for tourism by rail toKyogle and Casino.

“We’ve got rail but Tourism NSW often does promotions with airlines which benefit Ballina and Byron,” he said.

“Trains are something that could take off here. Catching a train down from Brisbane you go through Grady’s Creek Valley which is just breathtaking.”

The Southern Spirit stopped overnight in Coffs Harbour, with the 45 passengers free to wander the coastal city, and Mr Wallis said it would be beneficial to Kyogle if the train would be able to stop there in future.

However, he admitted work would need to be done to the local facilities before the train could stop for an extended period.

The Grand Tour will encompass a 14-day, 4550km trip from Alice Springs to Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, but it’s not cheap.

Fares start from $13,990 per person for platinum service and reduce to $10,590 for gold service.

The price includes all meals, tours, transfers and hotels and will only be held once a year in January.

The train will pass back through the area on Monday as it embarks on its inaugural Coastal Epic journey.

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