The Ghan!

So I was looking through my photos from my Ghan trip this weekend, and I realised that I hadn’t written a post about it!

The Ghan is a train run by Great Southern Rail, and travels between Darwin at the very top end of the Northern Territory, down to Adelaide in south eastern South Australia, over two nights and three days. Great Southern Rail also run the Indian Pacific that runs from across between Perth and Sydney over 4 days/3 nights, and the Overland, a day tripper between Adelaide and Melbourne. They are luxury train travel, and give you a chance to see the Australian scenery in all it’s amazing glory.

My trip started with me flying to Darwin on Friday, before I was picked up to board the train early Saturday morning. We travelled down to Katherine, where I took a cruise down Katherine Gorge, and sampled some crocodile delicacies. The crocodile sausage roll was delicious. The cream of crocodile soup was a little too crunchy for my palate! Then back on the train to watch the scenery and socialise with other travellers.

Katherine Gorge

Katherine Gorge

The train is made up of the Red Class – or day/night seats – carriages, and corresponding dining carriage, Gold Class single and double cabin carriages, with lounge and dining carriages, and Platinum Service cabins.

Platinum service was a little too much for my nurses’ wage, but it includes a premium ensuite cabin with twin or double bed, private lounge space, all meals and snacks included, and personalised cabin service. Red Service includes a lounge style chair, communal shower and toilet facilities, and food and drinks available for purchase.

Gold Service, which I travelled, includes single or double cabins, communal showers and toilets, access to the lounge with drinks, snacks and all meals included in your fare. Also, off train excursions are included in your fare.

The Ghan

The Ghan

You can choose to spend your time in your cabin, watching the world go by, or head to the lounge for a drink and a chat with fellow travellers. I did both. I spent a lot of the time staring out the window getting lost in the Australian countryside, and reading along to the lull of the rocking of the train… but I made sure to head to the lounge for a drink and to socialise before dinner. Everyone I travelled with was lovely – as many of the carriages are singles, there are a lot of people travelling solo. I made friends with a few people, who were doing the same tour as myself, with a stop off mid-train-trip at Alice Springs, Uluru, and Kings Canyon. A big shout out to my travel companions Les, Nancy, Bev and Brian. The food on the train was amazing, and you get seated with others so another chance to meet people and make friends.

Kata Tjuta

Kata Tjuta

Uluru

The stunning Uluru at sunset

View from the top of Kings Canyon

View from the top of Kings Canyon

For me, the one downside to the train was that you can’t see the scenery overnight. Duh, you say. Well, yes, but I didn’t think that one through completely before I left, and one of the main reasons I did the trip was to see the scenery. And when it’s dark between about 7-7, that’s 12hours of travel that you miss seeing the country.

I got off the train at Alice Springs, and took a tour out to Ayres Rock resort and Uluru, and Kings Canyon. Both were absolutely amazing! We climbed up Kings Canyon, descended down inside, back up the other side, and then down. The scenery was beautiful, and the walk was amazing (and only for those fit enough!)

After the tour, I returned to Alice Springs overnight and re-joined the Ghan for the trip to Adelaide, where I spend a day exploring the city, before finally returning to Melbourne.

Adelaide Botanical Gardens

Adelaide Botanical Gardens

The crew on the Ghan were all lovely, friendly and helpful. They schedule your meal seatings, make up your bed while you’re at dinner, and back to a chair while you’re at breakfast. The single cabins were functional, comfortable and warm. I struggled with the shower – more due to the fact that the train rumbles along and with a wet floor I didn’t want to knock myself out! For this reason I’m glad I split the trip and had hotel stays on the inbetween days 😉

I travelled in July, for me the perfect time of the year. I VERY much prefer Winter to Summer, and although it was cold overnight on the train, and out in Ayres Rock resort, Kings Canyon and down in Adelaide, it was still warm in Alice Springs and over 30 degrees celcius in Darwin. Darwin in Summer = wet season = hot and humid = no fun for Chelsea. I was happy with the cooler weather as we spent a bit of time exploring and walking which warmed me up, and on the buses and trains the temperature was well controlled. Also, at this time of year the Ghan runs twice a week rather than once, which enabled my tour itinerary.

This is a great way to see the Australian countryside, I totally recommend it. I also plan on giving the Indian Pacific a go to see the Nullabor!

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Just One Day

Goodreads

Goodreads

 

Title: Just One Day

Author: Gayle Forman

Published: Definitions; Random House, 2013

 

BACK COVER

A whirlwind day in Paris…

A chance at true love…

Heartbreak is waiting just around the corner

 

MY THOUGHTS

Allyson is the good girl. On a “Teen Tours! Cultural Extravaganza” she sees all of what she is supposed to see, and very little of what she wants to see. So, on a whim, encouraged by Willem – cute boy she meets at the train station who calls her Lulu, they take off to Paris. What follows is the experience of a lifetime, followed by heartbreak. Going off to college on her return, she effectively wastes her entire first year pining for Willem. That said, she makes an awesome friend in the unique and hilarious Dee. If nothing else, read this book for him!

So after a crap year, she decides to go back to Paris, and therein lies a slightly corny, partly unrealistic, but touching coming of age romance story. Forman’s writing is excellent, as I’ve said before in my review of If I Stay & Where She Went. This is easy to read, a real page turner. I totally recommend if you don’t mind a bit of sap, a little exaggerated emotion (although, I suppose that’s what the teen years are about!), and some slightly unbelievable coincidences.

I had one frustration – if I knew Allyson, I’d either be slapping her about the head to get over it – or sending her to a psychiatrist. A good dark wallow is fine post break up, even recommended, but this was basically a one night stand, and she is deeply depressed for months. Admittedly, there is more to the picture, and I suppose the exaggeration works well in fiction.

 

However, I am looking forward to reading Willem’s half of the story in Just One Year.

August Wrap Up

This is a monthly post done at the beginning of each month to quickly recap what I’ve read through the previous month.

 

Aaaand, August is done. This year is absolutely flying. Work continues to keep me busy – shocker, I know. We’ve got our second yearly accreditation coming up, so everyone is worker-bee-ing to get everything officially official and skills and protocols all up to scratch. Because of that, I’ve spent more time power-napping on the train this month than intended! Oops. But I clearly need the extra sleep so we’ll let that one slide shall we?

 

READ

  • Away With The Fairies by Kerry Greenwood
  • The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
  • Lone Wolf by Jodi Picoult
  • The Undercover Cook by Katie Fforde
  • The Indigo Spell by Richelle Mead
  • The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty
  • Left Neglected by Lisa Genova
  • Zoo by James Patterson
  • Working Wonders by Jenny Colgan
  • Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
  • The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman

Yikes, another 11 done. So currently I’m ahead in my Goodreads Challenge. Yay me!

Goodreads Challenge Update – 67/100

 

CURRENTLY READING

  • Tick Tock by James Patterson
  • A Grown Up Kind of Pretty by Joshilyn Jackson
  • The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out Of The Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson

 

BOOK CLUB READ

  • August/September – Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

 

How was your August?

The Street Sweeper

Goodreads

Goodreads

Title: The Street Sweeper

Author: Elliot Perlman

Published: Random House; Vintage Books, 2011

BACK COVER

The 21st century struggles of an African American probationary janitor in a Manhattan hospital and an untenured Australian historian at Columbia University lead to one greater story encompassing the civil rights struggle in the United States and the Nazi crimes against humanity in Europe.

The Street Sweeper deals with memory, love, guilt, heroism, the extremes of racism and unexpected kindness, crossing continents and time in an epic tale of unforgettable force.

MY THOUGHTS

Seamlessly intertwined, this book tells the stories of hospital janitor Lamont Williams, and university professor Adam Zignelik. The stories of these men are woven together over 554 pages, and the threads get stronger and stronger along the way, via mutual connections and historical research that Adam is doing.

Now, I’m usually not much one for historical fiction (as my friends in my book club will attest to), but Elliot Perlman knows just how to hook me in. I adored his “Seven Types of Ambiguity”, and knew I had to check this one out. Perlman manages to weave together the historical, the personal, and the professional. Lamont is released from prison and is working as a janitor in a Manhattan hospital. He befriends an elderly patient who was in Auschwitz. Adam works as a professor awaiting tenure at Columbia University. Secondary to work related issues, his relationship falls down around him. As the stories of these two men develop, their paths cross in ways I didn’t expect, through Adam’s research and Lamont’s learning about Auschwitz. This gives both men’s lives more meaning, and though seemingly becoming more lost, helps them to find their way in life.

I love Perlman’s writing. I find it so easy to read, and though the book is over 500 pages, I read it quickly. It was one of those books I just got lost in, and time flew past when I was reading – I had to shake myself back to reality. To me, this is a sign of an excellent book!

Have you read any of Elliot Perlman’s books? Have you read this one? What did you think?