I agree that half the fun of the holiday is getting there. In 2005, we drove to Darwin, spent a week there, put the car on the Ghan, got off at Alice Springs & spent a week driving around to Uluru, The Olgas, King's Canyon etc. we then got back on the train for the trip to Adelaide, where we spent another week and drove home to Brisbane.
On the Ghan,we travelled Red Class, sitting up for each leg of the trip, which isn't so bad as each leg is about 20 hrs. however ,the cost of the car on Motorail was as much as the passenger cost for both of us. Whereas if we had travelled Gold class, the cost would have been about the same as the car costs only $99.00, with the added benfits of Gold class travel.
In 2011, after circumnavigating Australia with a caravan a couple of years earlier, we decided to pack up our Mazda2 Hatch and spent a leisurely 3weeks meandering through NSW, Victoria, SA and back across the Nullabor to Perth. After a week in Perth, we boarded the IP and travelled back to Sydney, where we drove home to Brisbane.
This time we obviously opted for Gold class, with the car costing only $199.00 extra. Because of trackwork in the Blue Mountains, we travelled up the Main South after diverting south from Parkes via Cootamundra, which made for an even more interesting trip. The service and the food were excellent - the only disappointment was that due to trackwork around Adelaide and further north, we missed overtaking the freight at Peterborough which put the train behind by the time we reached Broken Hill, so that the stop was only for 30 minutes and no one could leave the platform. For those passengers expecting a tour, it was disappointing. As we had spent time previously in Broken Hill, it only meant that we were unable to take a walk downtown.
When we travelled, the coaches had the older drop down toilets, and we had to pay for drinks. On the current schedule, the coaches are even better and all drinks are include in the fare - which is comparable or even cheaper than when we travelled. The only negative comment I could make on the train is that the seating in the Queen Adelaide dining cars was a little cramped - but that didn't detract from the excellent food and service.
I love train travel, regardless of the scenery and even at my age, every train trip is an adventure. I started my working life at QR Workshops, Willowburn in the days of steam when we were overhauling locos on one side of the shop and cutting them up on the other side!