New Look At Great Southern Rail

5 February 2016

You may not be overly familiar with Adelaide-based Great Southern Rail, but you know its bucket-list rail journeys: The Ghan, The Indian Pacific and The Overland.  These long-distance passenger trains that traverse Darwin to Adelaide, Perth to Sydney and Melbourne to Adelaide, respectively, have had a long and venerable tradition in Australia, harking back at a refined age of luxury rail travel and offering an unique way to experience the epic landscapes.

 Designer Juli Grbac (centre) with Great Southern Rail staff in the new uniforms. (Image: GSR)

Great Southern Rail (GSR) has teamed up with fashion designer Juli Grbac to unveil new crew uniforms in 2016, the first in eight years. Flight Centre was at the media launch in Sydney and we also sat down with Juli to get the details on the stylish and practical partnership of GSR and legendary Aussie brand R.M. Williams.

From helming her eponymous label to winning the inaugural Project Runway Australia in 2008 and designing the iconic Virgin Australia crew uniforms in 2011, Juli Grbac has had quite the stylish career. With an eye for flattering fit and function, she applied her professional touch at Great Southern Rail, providing the new-look crew uniforms in collaboration with R.M. Williams.

 The new uniform includes a palette of red, navy and taupe. (Image: GSR)

“It was the perfect collaboration, especially going to the outback,” Juli says.

“The trains are taking guests on a journey and we are doing the same with the new uniform. Bringing together GSR and R.M. Williams was a match made in heaven. We have mixed customised fashion with many elements from the R.M. collection and made it our own. What could be more Australian?”


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 The new-look uniform for Great Southern Rail. (Image: GSR)

The creative process itself took two years of design and consultation. To design the collection of varied pieces required for the GSR uniform, Juli boarded an overnight train from Sydney to Adelaide to observe the staff in action and chat to them about their likes and dislikes.

“I spoke to the staff and saw what they needed to do, and they do a lot,” she says. “They do all different jobs, so they’ll do food service, making beds, bar service, so I had to do something that they wouldn’t need too many pieces for. For instance, at night the girls and the guys put on a tie and apron for evening service and for boarding, they put on a jacket and hat, but everything underneath is the same.”

 The Ghan is an epic rail journey through the centre of Australia. (Image: GSR)

The GSR uniform mainly contains customised pieces from the R.M. Williams range in a colour palette of red, navy blue and taupe. The 36-piece collection includes a jacket, striped shirt, puffer vest, shorts, boots, pants and the introduction of a skirt for female staff, as well as a R.M. Williams leather belt and Akubra hat for the signature look. The uniform will outfit over 300 staff members across Australia with separate uniforms for the culinary and service teams as well.

“The uniform has to look good, breathe well and work in both hot and cold climates. It had to be rugged-looking, but also stylish.

“I had sketched out ideas...when one of the managers walked in wearing an R.M. Williams shirt. It was an ‘a-ha’ moment. From there, the entire collection fell into place and staff love it. It’s been a great job, ” Juli enthuses.

The new uniform will be on board all train and at all Great Southern Rail terminals from this month.

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Visit your local Flight Centre store or call 131 600 for more advice and the latest deals on travelling on The Ghan and Indian Pacific.

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Cassandra Laffey

Consumed with unrequited wanderlust, I get my fix in 24/7 cities and hippie retreats. I'm still looking for the ultimate combo of secluded beach and major metropolis, and my happy place is a 5-star hotel room all to myself - sigh.