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!