Frequently Asked Questions

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


Can I pay using International Transfer (SWIFT) ?

We are happy to accept payment via alternative methods to the ones listed on our invoice. Payment via credit card over the phone or direct debit to our account attracts no additional costs to our customers. If using alternative methods you will need to add an amount to your invoice total to cover the additional fees. Failing to add this amount will cause an underpayment of your invoice.

Our SWIFT code for overseas payments is WPACAU2S. If your sending bank requires 11 characters, use WPACAU2SXXX. The bank name is WESTPAC and address is Shop 117 Cairns Central Shop CTR, Cairns QLD 4870. The bank BSB is 034664 and account number is 161208. Please add $35 AUD to your invoice total if paying via this method.

Please note that in the event that we refund you money (for example due to a cancelled trip by track closes) that it is our company policy to refund using the same method that payment was made for the invoice. When using alternative payment methods the amount refunded will be less any associated transfer fees.

Pets, Guide, Hearing and Assistance Animals

For the safety and comfort of all customers, animals are not permitted on any Savannahlander service with the exception of guide, hearing or assistance animals.

Customers who are unable to produce sufficient evidence of their need for an assistance animal as well as evidence that the animal has been trained appropriately may be refused travel with their assistance animal.  Evidence should be presented to the driver upon arrival and your boarding will be at the discretion of the driver.

All approved guide, hearing and assistance animals will be carried free of charge on Savannahlander services.

Guide, hearing and assistance animals must be suitably trained to assist a person with a disability to alleviate the effect of their disability and to meet standards of hygiene and behaviour that are appropriate for an animal in a public place. Evidence documentation must be provided to confirm the animal has been suitably trained.

An assistance animal is not a pet or an animal trained to assist people who do not have a disability (e.g. guard dog or mustering dog).

Please note that this policy is directed at Savannahlander services only and may not include other operators (bus, other trains, aircraft etc).

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.

Do you cater to specific dietary requirements

Our tours operate in remote outback places with limited access to food and often only a single meal provider.  Even with this in mind we will try to ensure that any special requests or requirements noted at the time of booking can be met by the Savannahlander.  

Please advise any dietary requirements including diabetic, coeliac meals; allergies etc. to ensure the necessary arrangements are made at the time of your booking.  

Please note that all meals are catered for by third parties and while all care is taken we cannot be responsible for the meals that are served. Most providers are happy to provide alternative meals for breakfast and dinners, but morning tea and lunch selections may be more limited.

If you have specific needs for morning tea or lunches we strongly suggest that you travel with a small selection of snacks in the event that there is no suitable food.  

Please be aware that we are travelling in areas where is there limited medical access.  If your dietary requirement involves severe allergic reactions we cannot guarantee that our third party providers can prevent cross-contamination of foodstuffs.  For example, you food may use equipment that has previously been in contact with nuts etc.  If you are travelling with medication (ie. Ventolin or Epi-Pen) please make the location of your medication known to the driver so that they can assist in the event of an emergency.

Full details regarding our food policy is available on our booking terms and conditions.

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.


Do you have a toilet on the Savannahlander

Just in case you are in a hurry – the short answer is yes!

Each of our railmotor units has it’s own toilet which includes a mirror and hand basin in case you would like to “freshen up” along the way.  We have upgraded the original “long drop” units and now the toilet systems are similar to those found in aeroplanes.  

For those wanting details – the toilets are a vacuum unit with a retention tank which is much better for the environment that we are passing through. Being that they are an active system, the main point to note is that if the motor is running in the unit, you can use the toilet.  If you hear silence – you had better get in touch with one of the drivers before using the toilet as they will not work without power!’


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.


The Savannahlander is strictly a non-smoking service for all types of cigarettes, cigars and e-cigarettes.  This includes smoking in the toilet area and within 5 meters of the doorways and eating areas.

All our accommodation providers operate non-smoking rooms and facilities, although there may be provision for smoking in a Designated Outdoor Smoking Area (DOSA).  Please make your enquiry direct to the accommodation provider when you arrive as to the location of the DOSA.

If you would like to smoke while travelling with us you may do so when the train stops for morning tea, lunches etc.  Please talk to your friendly driver about the timing and where you can go to smoke at the specific stop.

Please note that we take the comfort and safety of our passengers seriously, passengers found smoking on the train may be asked disembark the train and leave the tour.  In the event that you are removed from the tour there are no refunds available for the unused portion of your tour package.

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 FREE parking for travellers on the Savannahlander.  It should be noted that Cairns Central has recently moved to “ticket-less parking” which uses cameras to read your vehicle number plates.   To access this service you should do the following:

  1. 1) Please note your vehicle registration number on your booking form.  If you change vehicles between the time of booking and the time of travel you will need to contact our office to update the registration details. 
  2. 2) On the day please park your car as normal.  
  3. 3) When you exit the parking facility simply proceed to the exit and the gate will open for you.

Please note- if you do not provide registration details you will need to pay at the pay-station prior to leaving the carpark.

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 Cairns 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 or seniors discounts?

The Savannahlander values the senior citizens of our community and would like to extend a discount fare to those travelling with us holding a valid Senior’s card.  Please note that we are a private operation and that as such are not obliged to extend a discount fare but do so as our way of giving something back to our community.

We accept pensioner cards issued by the federal government along with all seniors cards issued by state and territory governments.  A full list of eligible cards is available on our website.

As we invoice and require full payment prior to departure, we request that our passengers only quote the details on the following card types.  Please note your concession card type and number when making your booking for each passenger as appropriate.  As such, passengers must hold a valid concession card at the date of booking not just at the date of travel.

Passengers should have their card available to be sighted by our drivers in case it is requested as they board. The original card must be presented – photocopies will not be accepted.  Failure to present a valid card may incur an additional invoice to return their fare to the full adult rate.

All concessions are valid for one person per card. When more than one name is on the concession card, the primary card holder (the first name) only is entitled to the concession rate.

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.