If you’re wanting to embrace your inner adventurer without missing your creature comforts, there are few better ways to travel than jumping on a train. For over 90 years, The Ghan has been riding the dusty red rails between Darwin and Adelaide. In this time, they’ve learnt how to blend adventure, culture, fun, food, and freedom into the ultimate Australian experience.
The key obstacle people often stumble at when thinking about how to plan to see The Outback is that because it’s such a huge backyard – how on earth are you supposed to see it all in a world that’s short on time?
I recently experienced the incredible Ghan Expedition, a four day, three-night, 2979km all-inclusive journey from Darwin to Adelaide, and I loved every second of it.
Before even boarding, opportunities for exploration were plentiful, such as seeing Darwin (and its magical sunset) from the water on board Darwin Harbour Cruises.
Ready to Journey Beyond and hear more about exploring Australia’s magical red centre?
The Fun Stuff
When you first think of a long train trip, you might think the majority of the day will spent on board the train, peering out the window at the world passing you by. Not a bad way to spend your day but it couldn’t be further from the case on The Ghan Expedition. Over the four-day expedition, you’ll get plenty of time to Journey Beyond the window and witness the outback up close and in the manner of your choosing.
After settling into my private cabin, we departed from Darwin to set off south towards Katherine, where we immersed ourselves in the beauty and indigenous culture at Nitmiluk Gorge with a cruise, before a sunset dinner.
My day ended with falling asleep as the train rolled soothingly onwards through the night to our next stop, Alice.
In Alice Springs, we shared stories with the locals at the desert park and toured the artsy central hub. Those of us who were feeling more energetic went mountain bike riding or did a couple of short hikes around Simpsons Gap NP.
After a particularly wet season, Simpson’s Gap was truly a sight to behold, with wildflowers blooming as far as the eye could see. As the sunset on another perfect Top End weather day, we got a sample of the drover’s life at an outback cattle station where we tried our hands at blacksmithing, went for a camel ride and learnt all about the Southern sky constellations from a resident astronomer. All this, and it was still only day two.
Day three began North of Coober Pedy at the outback outpost of Manguri. We visited The Breakaways, an Aboriginal heritage site and indigenous-owned conservation park with striking sandstone formations set amongst unique native vegetation.
The layered colours are sure to take your breath away. Just be sure you get your breath back before plunging beneath the hot surface in Coober Pedy. Tour through an opal mine, see underground churches and underground houses – dugouts – some of which are up to 4 storeys, including indoor pools, all beneath the surface. Truly wild!
Waking up on our final morning and watching the change in landscape out of my cabin window was dramatic, as the rich ochre tones of the outback made way for the green, lush fields of South Australia.
All that was left was time for a leisurely brunch with my new expedition friends as we coasted through the majestic Flinders Ranges and prepared for our mid-morning arrival into Adelaide, completing one of the world’s great travel experiences.
The Tasty Stuff
All these activities and sights can have you working up an appetite but don’t fret, the team on The Ghan know how to keep you sated and hydrated in style.
Whether you’re enjoying a 3-course breakfast, sipping a cocktail watching the sunset through the window or enjoying a gourmet dinner with regional highlights, you won’t be disappointed in the comfort of the dining car with infinite Outback views to boot. On top of the delicious food, the Outback Explorer Lounge is well stocked with an impressive selection from the world-class vineyards and breweries of South Australia.
Off the train, the meals are just as good. Eat under the stars at the historic Telegraph station, with a live band playing all the old Aussies classics. In Alice, have lunch at the brewery while sampling some local beers.
In Coober Pedy, stay out of the roasting midday sun and enjoy lunch down an opal mine. A story in itself you can dine out on for years! While at either end of the trip, you can enjoy the freshest seafood from Darwin and the foodie’s delight that is Adelaide.
The Quiet Stuff
With so much to see and do and taste, it’s important to take time to relax and let it all soak in. Enjoy the sunrise from your window (for the early risers) with a cuppa’ Rosy Lee, chat with your fellow travellers, or decompress as the subtle movement of the train rocks you off to sleep.
Read a book or just admire the natural beauty rolling by. The solitude and sense of scale and our part in it is a great cue to relax and reflect with.
What a way to escape
The Ghan Expedition, a four day, three-night, 2979km all-inclusive journey, will take you to some of the most remote and captivating parts of Australia in style and comfort. It’s the ultimate Australian outback experience.
From $2,829 per person and including;
- 4 days/3 nights aboard The Ghan departing Wednesdays (Apr-Oct) and Saturdays (Apr-Aug)
- All-inclusive meals, fine wines, and beverages
- A regionally-inspired menu paired with a selection of local wines
- Off Train Experiences in Katherine, Alice Springs, and Coober Pedy
- Evening Off Train Experience in Manguri
- A spectacular dinner under the stars at the historic Telegraph Station, Alice Springs
- Your choice between Nitmiluk Gorge’s powerful natural wonders and rich Indigenous culture, or a glimpse of authentic outback life with a horse and working dog demonstration
- Venture into the underground opal mining town of Coober Pedy
Want to make your escape on the legendary Ghan? Book today at https://bookings.journeybeyondrail.com.au/agent/login (agents) or https://bookings.journeybeyondrail.com.au/ (guests).
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