(Just in case you are thinking this looks familiar … somehow I lost parts of my original post so I am publishing this again!)
The Ghan is regarded as one of the world’s famous rail journeys, travelling from Darwin to Adelaide through the heart of Australia. We were lucky enough to take this journey a few weeks ago and can highly recommend it as a way to experience the dramatic and ever changing landscape that is Australia.
If you are wondering about the name of the train, we were told that when the first camels were imported with their handlers from Afganistan, about 150 years ago, to explore the interior of the country, these pioneers soon became known as Afghans; which was then shortened to “Ghans”. The emblem of an Afghan on a camel can be prominately seen as you board the train.
Although we didn’t know it when we booked, we were on “The Expedition”, the first special trip of the season, which gave us a 76 hour trip instead of 54, meaning more time at Alice Springs and a stop at Coober Pedy, so that was a lucky break!
The train had 250 passengers and 38 carriages including two locos. Our cabin would have to be described as “cosy”, consisting of upper and lower bunk beds, the lower one converting to a three-seater lounge during the day, and a private en-suite. The secret is not to pack more than necessary, as there is nowhere to put anything away. We took two small bags – I don’t know how other people managed who were going on board with suitcases on wheels!
However, we spent most of our time in the lounge and bar carriage or the restaurant where we were treated to excellent 3-course meals, all drinks covered ias well.
There were lots of tourists on board, so the meals had a distinct Australiana theme – kangaroo steaks, crocodile sausages and beef cheeks … very nice!
Also included in the price were the off train excursions so we thought it was great value for money. The staff provided excellent service and we even got chocolates when they pulled down the bunk bed every night.
One thing I wasn’t prepared for was the bumpy ride at night. We woke up a few times getting jostled around when the train slowed down to pull into a siding. The Ghan has to give way to every freight train, and one night we were stopped for 3 hours. So I just had to eat chocolates and read my e book until I got back to sleep!