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The Ghan Trip

Page history last edited by Ann Vipond 3 years ago


The A to Z of an epic train journey on The Ghan 



The Ghan trip covers 2,979km. Source: Getty Images


It's the iconic Aussie journey – a trip from Adelaide to Alice Springs and then on to Darwin, on The Ghan. 


The train takes passengers through the heart of Australia on the world's longest north-south train journey, covering 2,979 kilometres, revealing the history, culture, myriad colours and rugged beauty of the Outback along the way. 


Watch a video and get the feel!:


On board the Ghan




The Ghan - Adelaide to Darwin



Here are some of the things to see, do and cherish along the way:


A is for Alice Springs

… also known as ‘The Alice’, and as Mparntwe to the Arrente people who have lived here for thousands of years. This is the main stop on this Ghan adventure, from where you’ll get to explore all of the icons of the Red Centre.


B is for BBQ

… by all accounts, one of the highlights of the entire 12-night journey is an outback barbecue at the old Alice Springs Telegraph Station. The evening includes a sumptuous dinner under a blanket of stars, with live music, dancing, camel rides and a touch of astronomy/star-gazing.


C is for Coober Pedy

… the outback town in northern South Australia, famous for its opal mines and underground homes – ‘dugouts’ – built in response to the scorching daytime heat. It’s utterly fascinating, slightly strange and totally unique. Be sure to check out the nine-hole golf course (you’ll be given a patch of artificial turf to use as a portable fairway!). It’s ’twinned’ with St Andrew's in Scotland which, being famous, expensive and green, is its opposite in every way!


D is for Darwin

… the final stopping point on this adventure, you’ll spend three nights in the capital of the Northern Territory, and embark on incredible day trips to Kakadu and Litchfield National Park.

E is for Explorer

… as in, Kakadu National Park Explorer. This is the one-day tour you’ll do to Australia’s largest national park. It’s a World Heritage Site and a rich repository of rock art that's up to 20,000 years old and provides an insight into human civilisation before the last ice age.


F is for flat

... apart from the odd incline – and a massive red rock somewhere in the middle of the country – expect the landscape to be very flat, with lots of red dirt and scrub, just as you’d expect in the middle of the Aussie bush.


G is for The Ghan

… the train that will take you on this iconic 2,979-kilometre journey. It’s named after the cameleers who came to Australia with their animals in the 1830s to help transport goods for inland explorers. While they hailed from all over central and middle-eastern Asia, they were thought to be from Afghanistan. Hence the nickname they were given: 'Ghans'. So it looks like we can date the Aussie habit for abbreviating everything back to at least the 1830s!


The Old Ghan Railway Musum


The Old Ghan Railway Musum


H is for hot

… as in, it will be very! Remember to pack light clothes that still provide suitable coverage, slather on the 50+ and drink lots. Water, that is.


I is for Indigenous

… this trip will give you a fascinating taste of Australia’s Indigenous culture. Just a taste, mind you. A lifetime of studying would barely scratch the surface of this ancient civilisation, but this trip will make you want to learn more.


J is for Jawoyn

… made up of 17 clans, the Jawoyn people are the traditional owners of the area now known as Nitmiluk National Park. They also gave it its name – Nitmiluk (pronounced ‘nit-me-look’), which literally means ‘cicada place’. Geologists will tell you the gorge was created by the Katherine River, but we prefer the story the Jawoyn people tell: how Bolung, the rainbow serpent, carved a path through the sandstone to create the gorge. He still inhabits the deep pools of the second gorge at Nitmiluk, so do not disturb!


K is for Kings Canyon

… located in Watarrka National Park, about 45km from Alice Springs. Covering 71,000 hectares and filled with more than 600 species of native plants and animals, the park has been home to the Luritja Aboriginal people for more than 20,000 years. Scale the magnificent Kings Canyon, with its 100m high sandstone walls, to catch the sunrise or sunset across Watarrka National Park, just as they did in The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. Drag attire optional.


L is for Litchfield National Park

… you’ll do a one-day tour here from Darwin, ending your holiday adventure with a visit to some of Australia’s most iconic waterfalls – and perhaps a dip in the ancient swimming pools beneath.


M is for Marla

… a tiny town in South Australia, roughly 1,100km north-west of Adelaide and 400km south of Alice Springs, which it is said takes its name from the Aboriginal word meaning kangaroo. Marla has a population of just over 70 people, but numbers swell twice a week when the town is visited by The Ghan.


N is for Nitmiluk Gorge

… also known as Katherine Gorge. It’s actually made up of 13 separate gorges and is utterly spectacular. Carved out of ancient sandstone by the Katherine River over countless millennia, the gorge winds along 12 kilometres and features breathtaking scenery of raging waterfalls and 100-metre-high red sandstone cliffs which tower above the river.


Nitmiluk Gorge in the Northern Territory.


O is for The Olgas

… a.k.a Kata Tjuta, which means ‘many heads’ in the local Aṉangu language. This sacred, ochre-coloured natural wonder is located about 40km west of Uluru and comprises 36 imposing domed rock formations (the tallest peak, Mt Olga, stands at 1,066 metres above sea level).


P is for Platinum Service

… there are two classes on The Ghan, gold and platinum. If you were ever going to upgrade on a trip, this once-in-a-lifetime train journey is the time to do it. It will give you a cabin nearly double the size of the gold class, with a double bed, window views out of both sides of the carriage and a personal en suite.


Kings Canyon. Source: Pixabay

Q is for Queen Adelaide Restaurant

… one of nine restaurant carriages on The Ghan. It’s exactly the sort of restaurant you’d hope to be on a luxury train journey – with upholstered booths, starched white linen, full picture windows to take advantage of the views and seriously good food sourced from local providers.


Queen Adelaide Restaurant Ghan 


R is for the Red Centre

… surely the most iconically Australian part of our nation, all rugged mountain ranges, sweeping desert plains and sacred sites. It makes you want to start reciting “I love a sunburnt country”.


S is for Sunrise/Sunset

… these will no doubt be your favourite times on this journey through the outback, as the rising and setting sun transforms the landscape, creating spectacular sights and vistas that you’ll want to gaze upon every evening. And every morning, if you’re the early bird type!


T is for Tjukurpa

… a.k.a the foundation of life and society for the Anangu, the traditional owners of Uluru-Kata Tjuta. Tjukurpa (pronounced ‘chook-orr-pa’) has many deep, complex meanings. It refers to the past, the present and the future, all at the same time, and it’s the law for caring for one another, and of course for the land that supports us.


U is for Uluru

… the world’s most famous rock. It’s a deeply spiritual place that’s estimated to be about 600 million years old. One of the great natural wonders of the world, watching the 348m-high monolith changing colours at dawn and dusk is true bucket-list stuff.


Uluru. Source: Pixabay


V is for Vibrant

… as in, the vibrant colours of the sunrises and sunsets you’ll see at Uluru, mentioned above. But it’s also the lush green pastures, vibrant red dirt and endless deep blue skies that will provide the backdrop for much of this trip.


W is for the West MacDonnell Ranges

… the West Macs, as the locals call them, stretch for more than 200km west of Alice Springs. A day tour here will introduce you to the dramatic, untouched wilderness, ancient rock formations and waterholes that you’ll probably be familiar with thanks to tales of the Larapinta Trail or the art of Albert Namatjira.


X is for Exxy

… nope, this epic adventure is not cheap, but it’s a once-in-a-lifetime trip that’s super-deluxe and super-amazing.


Y is for yes

… need we say more?


Z is for zip

… you definitely won’t be zipping along on this trip. The train moves quite slowly at times, but what’s the rush? This is an experience to be savoured.







Ancient rock art in Kakadu National Park. Source: Pixabay



By Tdc - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4459572


By Tourism NT (with the link where possible), Attribution, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1527231

By Kerry Raymond at the English language Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6967966

By Bidgee - Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4079727


By Bidgee - Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4079727



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