Kelly Landry was lucky enough to take one of the world's great train journeys. She travelled aboard The Ghan covering 3000km through the heart of Australia from Darwin to Adelaide in style.
The Ghan is a national icon, taking its name from the pioneers of the Red Centre the Afghani cameleers. They blazed a permanent trail more than 150 years ago. The train's emblem is an Afghani on a camel in recognition of their efforts in opening up the inhospitable interior.
It cuts a path straight through the driest and most isolated part of Australia. When it first travelled between Adelaide and Alice Springs, it was intended it would one day travel through to Darwin. Eighty years on it is a reality, along with a new level of luxury. There are three classes of travel: red, gold and the new platinum.
Platinum class has put The Ghan on par with some of the world's best train cabins and includes 24-hour room service. It has spacious cabins, each with a comfortable sofa which converts to a double bed and private ensuite facilities.
Gold class cabins are half the size with bunk beds. Platinum and gold have access to the Queen Adelaide restaurant and lounge area. All meals are included.
If you're travelling on a budget, red class is the pick of the three. Passengers have day-nighter seats or sleeping berths with private washing facilities. Comfortable recliner lounge chairs have generous leg room and there are toilets and showers at the end of each carriage. Guests need to take their own rug and pillow.
There are a couple of whistlestop tours along the way. At Katherine, the Cafe Gorge Cruise gives passengers a look at one of the most spectacular parts of Australia. The catchment area at the end of the 13th gorge is the size of Victoria. During the wet season, water turns into rivers very quickly and gives the outback an entirely new life of plants, birds and fish.
The cruise is in an open-sided boat with canopy and lasts two hours. There's good commentary about what you are seeing, as well as an explanaition of the gorge's cultural significance to local Aboriginal people. There are beautiful cliffs, sheer ledges of sandstone, sandy beaches and an Aboriginal rock-art site.
In Alice Springs you can visit the Desert Park, an environmental facility on 1300 hectares, featuring three desert habitats: desert rivers, sand country and woodland. There are daily birds of prey shows and a nocturnal exhibition.
The three-day, two-night trip from Adelaide to Darwin or the other way is a memorable one and with the desert's changing face, no two trips are alike.