Coined as one of the worlds most incredible train journeys, a trip on the Ghan will take you north from Adelaide to Alice Springs, Kathryn and finally, Darwin. Let's go through some of the more memorable aspects that help break up a 48 hour journey. The Ghan is a trip that focuses not on the destination, but the journey to get there. You learn a more about the history of the train and its involvement in connecting two state capitals via this unforgiving terrain.
Its hard not to get excited when you see a train like the Ghan. It has an incredible history bringing Australia together, as you pass the tropics, desert, Flinders Ranges and the farm fields of South Australia. Many an explorer lost his life trying to find a usable route from Adelaide to Darwin, that was until one man finally made the round trip journey successfully. On his third attempt, that is. That route eventually became known as the Ghan, named after the Afghan cameleers who helped forge the final path deep unto the heart of Australia.
As for the train itself, I can't say much as I was in Red class. For those not "in the know", that is the working mans rail car. Nothing fancy about it and not worth a photograph. Just to display how different the classes of railcar are, let's look at the names of each. Platinum, Gold and Red. Red is not even a metal, rather it is a color. If it was a metal it would be Rusted Steel, but that doesn't have the same ring to it when you're trying to sell seats for over $300 each.
The seats in this class are more comfortable than an airplane, and you get to walk around your red class car and the cafeteria car. Wow. If you really splash out, you can throw down $15 and get access to the Lounge car, displayed above. The perfect option for those who prefer not to smell the feet of 120 other people before bed.
To compare Rusted Metal Class with Platinum or Gold, I cannot do, however I can say the important thing we shared was the view out the window. Many folks say that Australia is a barren land, and in some ways it is, but the variety of panoramic landscapes that pass the windows of the Ghan was incredible. The farm fields in the south slowly turn into an arid desert which then transforms into lush green forests as you approach Kathryn and Darwin.
Each day starts and finishes with the sun on one side or another. A great way to wake up each day and it makes life just a bit easier when trying to ignore the children in front of you who can't sleep.
Getting into Alice Springs, the scenery outside the Ghan was burnt. Very burnt. The haze in the background is from the constant fires that start and finish as the desert regenerates during the dry season. We also passed through cattle stations, some of the biggest in the country are located in this part of Australia.
This photo doesn't show it, but if you look to the side of the tracks, you also pass the sun bleached bones of cattle who have been hit by the Ghan during previous journeys. As if surviving in the Outback wasn't hard enough for cattle, now you add the danger of stumbling in front of a train going blazing through your pasture.
This dry river crossing, known as the Finke River, is another reminder at how valuable water is to the locals. Hard to believe that during a flash flood in the wet season this river can fill up.
As you get further north you begin to see gigantic termite mounds and rusted out vehicles. The latter being a reminder that you 48 hour journey is coming to a close.
Just in case anyone who reads this has had their vehicle stolen in or near Kathryn, I think I found it.
The Ghan is a trip that focuses not on the destination, but the journey getting there. You learn a more about the history of the train and its involvement in connecting two state capitals via unforgiving terrain. When broken down, it is a very competitively priced method of traveling from Adelaide to Darwin.
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