Frequently Asked Questions

If your question about the Savannahlander isn’t answered here please contact us.


Cancellation Policy

The Savannahlander operates with a very generous and understanding cancellation policy.  In essence, we understand that with a trip of this nature that sometimes things get in the way and we are happy to help when things don’t work out for you.

Please refer to our Booking Conditions for the full policy.

In the event that we cannot supply your tour (eg. is there is a Cyclone or line-closure) then we will offer to book you on another date if available or offer you a full refund including your deposit.

Please note:  The Savannahlander operates in an outback area that is subject occasionally to natural events such as cyclones and flooding.  Our operational policies have passenger safety as the highest priority and when such events occur the service may be cancelled.  We encourage all passengers to arrange their own travel insurance as we can refund your tour fares but are unable to refund your other costs such as flights, transfers and accommodation.

Can I reserve a seat or choose a seat option?

The Savannahlander is a open-plan railmotor which means that you are in a carriage that has many seats.  As a rule the only seat that is allocated is the drivers seat, which has some regulatory conditions before you may sit there.  Other than this restriction, seating is NOT allocated and is strictly on a “first-come, first-choice” basis.

On most trips, the first 5 seats are generally reserved as a “rotation” seating and you are welcome to come forward from any seating position and sit up the front for a short period of time.  While there you can talk to the drivers or take photos and videos through the front window.

The seats themselves are covered and padded.  You can reverse most seats so that a group of 4 may sit facing each other (2 travelling forward facing and 2 travelling rearward facing).  If it’s your preference, in the warmer months you may feel more comfortable if you bring a towel to sit on.

PLEASE NOTE:  Many people join the Savannahlander from various stations along the 4 day journey.  Seats and seating places are NOT kept between days or stops and we hope and expect all our wonderful passengers to manage their seating placements themselves.



While the train has no practical weight limit for your luggage – you must be able to lift and carry your own luggage. This includes carrying up a flight of stairs and carrying over open ground. Please note that this is an outback tour and that paved areas are the exception rather than the rule (ie. wheeled bags are not an acceptable alternative to carrying your luggage).

Generally we ask our passengers to limit their luggage to one piece (approx 20Kg) plus a smaller carry-on bag (ie. handbag).

Leaving luggage:  If you are making the Savannahlander part of a larger trip, you are welcome to leave some bags locked on the train each night. You may want to take a smaller overnight bag for each nightly stop. and your bags are accessible throughout the journey.

Please note that while all care will be taken, we cannot accept responsibly for any items left in the railmotors.

Can I leave my vehicle somewhere?

As with a lot of rail travel, you may be driving to your chosen departure point for your journey with us on the Savannahlander.

The good news is that all of the stations along the route have space available for you to park a car.  You should note however that while all care is taken and incidents are very rare that your vehicle is parked at your own risk.

The Cairns central railway station has the provision for extended parking for travellers on the Savannahlander.  To access this service please park your car as normal.  When you exit the parking facility simply proceed to the exit and press the “help/intercom” button and let the attendant know that you are a Savannahlander train passenger and they will open the gate for you.

Other stations have open parking facilities adjacent to the railway station.

Please note that if you have a large vehicle, motor-home or RV that you may need to make alternate arrangements as not all parking facilities can accommodate larger vehicles.  We would advise that you visit the station prior to departure to check or make alternative arrangements.

When does the Savannahlander run?

The Savannahlander departs Cairns on Wednesday for 42 Weeks of the year.  Typically this is from the first Wednesday in March until the second Wednesday in December, however the actual start and finish dates may change due to seasonal conditions.

Please contact us if you would like to get actual dates for your planning.

What’s the best time of year to travel on the Savannahlander?

The Savannahlander is great all year round. The coolest, but busiest, time of the year is May to September. If you wish to travel in this period it’s best to book well in advance. Towards the beginning of the Savannahlander season is a little warm but very, very green. All the rivers are running and the country looks great. Towards the end of the year can be hot but it’s the storm season in the gulf and the electrical shows are spectacular.

Which station does the Savannahlander depart from?

The Savannahlander departs from Cairns Station, in Cairns Central Shopping Centre, at 6.30 am Wednesday. Passengers can join the train at any of the other stations along the route including Freshwater, Kuranda and Mareeba. If you would like to join the train at a station other than Cairns just let us know before departure.

While I’m in Cairns should I go on the Kuranda Scenic Railway too?

The Savannahlander follows the same route as the Kuranda Scenic Railway to Kuranda so you’ll be on familiar territory if you do both trips. Of course, the Savannahlander goes a lot further than Kuranda! The Savannahlander only stops briefly in Kuranda so you may wish to visit Kuranda on the Kuranda Scenic Railway and have a good look around. It will also give you a chance to catch the Skyrail cableway from Kuranda to Cairns.

Can you recommend a place to stay in Carins the night before the Savannahlander departs?

There are many great places to stay in Cairns. The Cairns station is handy to most of them. We’ve listed a few that are quite close to the station on our Cairns Accommodation page. Staying at Kuranda and joining the train there is also an option.  Visit our Cairns Accommodation page for more information.

Do you offer pensioner discounts?

Yes, Australian Pension Card holders and Queensland Seniors Card holders receive a discount on Savannahlander fares.  Please see the details on our discounted fares page.

Is the Savannahlander air-conditioned?

No, the Savannahlander railmotor units are not air-conditioned. You can open the windows though! Most of the accommodation Savannahlander passengers stay in is air conditioned.

Is the Savannahlander operated by the Government?

The Savannahlander is operated by a private company, Cairns Kuranda Steam, on behalf of the Queensland Government.

Will we see many other trains?

No, once the Savannahlander passes Kuranda on the first day it is the only regular traffic on the line. We do sometimes pass work trains but this is rare.

Who maintains the railway line?

The line is maintained by Queensland Rail. There are track gangs based in Mareeba, Mount Surprise and Forsayth and a bridge gang in Almaden.

How fast does the Savannahlander travel?

The railway line that the Savannahlander travels over has a low posted speed limit so it travels at a sedate pace.

How old are the railmotors?

We have three railmotor units that we use for the Savannahlander. 2028 and 2026 were built in 1963 and 2053 was built in 1971.

What sort of motors do the railmotors have?

Originally 2026 and 2028 had 160 HP Rolls Royce Diesel Engines and 2053 had an AEC motor. These were removed in 2005 and replaced with a 250 HP Cummins diesel and Allison Auto gear box combination.