Astounding how important the XPT between Sydney and Melbourne is to people who live in the country. Leaving both cities, my carriage was well-nigh empty, but there were points where it was full. Travellers are pensioners, young country folk and backpackers. I had the same lonely Macedonian on each trip. All he wanted to do was talk. He sat next to me on the way down and I heard his tale. He sat behind me on the way back and I heard his tale, again.
I am tempted to take the Ghan from Adelaide to Darwin, but I probably wont take this journey again.
The daylight XPT leaves Sydney about 8am and gets into Melbourne about 7pm. The return journey leaves Melbourne about 830am and gets into Sydney about 8pm. Neither journey was on time, due to heat and waiting in lay-bys. With a Seniors Card the return journey cost me $130. I think the least I have paid one-way to Melbourne by plane is about $80. Depends what is more important: time or money. I wanted to see the countryside.