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The Ghan

Thursday, November 5, 2009
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.

Location

From Darwin to Adelaide.

Cost

The Ghan Darwin to Adelaide platinum service costs $2987, including all meals, gold service is $1973 and day-nighter seats are $363 for adults and $331 for children. Cafe Gorge Cruises are $75 for adults and $58 for children. Entry to Alice Springs Desert Park is $42 for adults and $33 for children. They run year-round.

Prices correct at November 5, 2009.

For further information

The Ghan
www.gsr.com.au

User comments
I watched your story with great interest and excitement. I'm planning to take this trip next year. It's a must do for me. My father worked for the SA railways and was commissioned to create the statue that stands proudly on the Alice platform. And I'm told that my grandfather broke his leg somewhere outback when part of the team laying the tracks from Adelaide to Alice. They couldn't do much to help him so he just got on with it and lived with a 'bung' leg. Thanks for showing me what's in store and for providing the website details.
My husband and were one of the first to book a Platinum trip when they came available in 08 for May this year. About one month before the trip, they cancelled our trip, their reason was that they had cancelled that trip for that day due to the train not running that particular day. We checked ourselves by doing a dummy booking for that particular day and the train was still proceeding as normal. They had over $6000 of our money for nearly a year and they couldn't even have the manners to tell us the truth that they had overbooked for that trip. It took them weeks to refund our money and we lost money on our airfares and accomodation cancellations plus the interest on the $6000 we could of earned during that year. So it might be a trip of a life time, it certainly was going to be for us, but after the way they treated us, I would not consider dealing with that company again. Strangely enough my sister won a trip on the Ghan and had a great time.
Hi, what was the song playing through this part of the show,on the Ghan?

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