SBS has announced Great Australian Railway Journeys will screen from early February.
The six-part series sees British TV personality Michael Portillo as he traverses the length and breadth of Australia exploring monumental landscapes and uncovering feats of engineering in an inhospitable continent.
“Australia is a wonderful country to explore by train, offering epic journeys across the continent on the Indian-Pacific and Ghan railways. With my 1913 guidebook, I investigate convicts, koalas, kangaroos and camels; trace the history of European settlement along with its impact on the indigenous peoples; and look at the new multi-ethnic Australia coming to terms with its past,” he said.
The series is produced by Boundless (part of Fremantle).
Armed with his 1913 Bradshaw’s Handbook to the Chief Cities of the World, Michael embarks on six railway journeys across Australia’s vast open spaces riding some of the longest passenger trains and the steepest railway in the world. Travelling over 9,000 miles, his journeys take him from Canberra to Melbourne, Sydney to Broken Hill, Newcastle to Brisbane, Port Augusta to Darwin, Kuranda to Townsville and Adelaide to Perth.
The adventure begins with the Pichi Richi heritage railway – the only remaining part of the ‘Old Ghan’ line in operation – before Michael boards the luxurious modern passenger service at Alice Springs bound for Darwin. Next on his list is a 125-second thrill on the steepest railway in the world at Katoomba in the Blue Mountains, followed by an overnight journey on one of the world’s longest trains, the luxurious Indian Pacific Railway. In Melbourne, The Puffing Billy takes him through the rainforest of the Dandenong mountains, while in Queensland he marvels at the engineering expertise of the 1890s as he inches his way across the Stony Creek Bridge on the Kuranda Scenic Railway.
Along the way, Michael explores Australia’s culture and its dazzling cities from the iconic harbour-front metropolis of Sydney to Melbourne’s world-renowned sporting heritage. He climbs the Blue Mountains of New South Wales, discovers the remote Australian Red Centre and the tropical rainforests of Queensland. He hears Dreaming stories from the Indigenous Arrernte people, goes sheep shearing in Victoria, strikes gold in Kalgoorlie and swims over coral at the Great Barrier Reef.
Tuesday February 4 at 7:30pm on SBS.