Queensland Rail celebrates 30 years of the Spirit of the Outback (Ministerial statement)

  • ​This month marks the 30th anniversary of Queensland Rail's iconic Spirit of the Outback long-distance train journey. 
  • The train connects communities from Brisbane to Longreach, distancing 1,325 kilometres of the western rail line.
  • The anniversary also marks a major milestone in Queensland Rail's regional locomotive overhaul project, with the newly refurbished loco 2901 back on track for customer services.

30 years ago on 19 November 1993, travellers boarded the first ever Spirit of the Outback for an epic train journey to the heart of Queensland.

The Spirit of the Outback introduced a new era of rail travel compared to its predecessor, the Midlander, by delivering the onboard Tucker Box restaurant serving up Australian produce inspired by the journey, the Shearer's Lounge for onboard socialising and many other customer comforts.

Since entering service, the Spirit of the Outback has hosted more than 650,000 passengers to and from Queensland's outback.

To celebrate the 30th anniversary, Queensland Rail brought travelling customers together with a special cake-cutting ahead of the train's departure from Roma Street station on Saturday.

The anniversary also marked a major milestone in Queensland Rail's regional locomotive overhaul project, with one of the newly refurbished 2900 class locos hauling the Spirit of the Outback anniversary service.

Quotes attributable to the Minister for Transport and Main Roads and Minister for Digital Services:

“The Spirit of the Outback journey offers a rail experience like no other with a front seat view of Queensland's rugged outback terrain."

“From Brisbane to Blackwater, Emerald, Barcaldine, Longreach, and everywhere in between, the Spirit of the Outback takes customers on a journey through Australian history and culture.

“It's great to see one of Queensland Rail's regional 2900 locomotives back on track to haul the anniversary service after being upgraded by Redbank-based Progress Rail.

“The 2900 class locomotives have successfully been re-powered and modernised with enhanced safety features, improved reliability and upgrades to driver amenities.

“The upgrade has proved to be a great win for onboard crew, customers and the environment with the new engine configuration expected to reduce fuel requirements by between 10 and 20 per cent.

“With the upgraded locomotive back on track and better than ever before, I look forward to seeing the service continue to convey customers for many more years to come."

Quotes attributable to Queensland Rail Head of Regional Scott Cornish:

“We're proud to connect customers with some of Queensland's most iconic tourist destinations in Outback Queensland, and the Spirit of the Outback has allowed us to do so for 30 years."

“The ongoing success of the service is a testament to our hardworking teams that keep it running including our onboard staff, station staff, maintenance crews and everyone behind the scenes.

“We encourage everyone to get onboard, especially with our two for the price of one Outback fare sale still on.

“Tickets are valid for travel until 31 March 2024 on the Spirit of the Outback, Westlander and Inlander."

The fare is bookable via Queensland Rail Travel centres or through travel agents.


Media contact – Minister Bailey's office – 0466 620 176​

For further details contact Queensland Rail Corporate Affairs on:

Phone: 07 3072 2180
Email: media@qr.com.au