AWESOME: At first sight, the 900 metal snake metres of The Ghan stretching away from the Darwin train station is awe inspiring.
AWESOME: At first sight, the 900 metal snake metres of The Ghan stretching away from the Darwin train station is awe inspiring.

Epic Aussie rail journey spans this vast continent

IT'S A trip that will take you from one side of the continent to the other through Australia's red heart in absolute comfort all the way.

From first sight, the 900 metal snake metres of The Ghan stretching away from the Darwin train station is awe inspiring.

When your cabin is in carriage Q, it is also a long walk. Luckily, The Ghan offers transport to your carriage if you prefer.

That's just one of the many thoughtful gestures that make travelling on this iconic journey a real pleasure.

The Ghan Explorer is a four-day and three-night trip that departs each week from Darwin between March and October.

It heads out on a 2979km journey through Australia's rugged outback, stopping to offer passengers experiences along the way.

 

The Ghan  at Darwin Station.
The Ghan at Darwin Station. .

I boarded the train with my iPad loaded with plenty of books and Netflix shows, ready to relax in my seat and watch the world roll by.

At the end, I realised I need not have bothered as sitting in the cabin was last on the list of top train activities.

From day one and the first stop at Katherine, to cruising up Nitmiluk Gorge to view the stunning red cliffs silhouetted against the bright blue sky, the options were many, varied and all included in the journey.

With options for activity levels, the tours took passengers to see destinations well away from the train stops via buses.

From sedate to more adventurous, including an optional flight over Uluru, passengers have plenty of choices to see the outback their way.

There is also no chance that you will starve on this trip.

The elegant Queen Adelaide dining car is full of old-fashioned charm and warm hospitality while the meals and wines are included in the fare.

As the train traverses the country, the menu reflects the region with crocodile sausages in Darwin, kangaroo in Alice Springs and Barossa gammon (ham) in Adelaide.

 

The Ghan Explorer is a four day and three-night trip that departs each week from Darwin between March and October.
The Ghan Explorer departs weekly from Darwin, March and October.

Feeling peckish between meals? The lounge car is the place to go for a cappuccino and morning tea or pre-dinner drink.

Day two on the journey sees the train pull in for a full day at Alice Springs. Passengers head off on buses to explore the town and surrounds and finish with a starlit evening meal at the historic Alice Springs Telegraph Station.

It's an outback barbecue with a rollicking local band that has many dancing the night away.

The isolated outback town of Coober Pedy has long been on my bucket list, and I was not disappointed by this quirky underground treasure.

The lunar-like landscape of the opal minefields, the spacious underground houses, the magnificence of Breakaway Conservation Park and the famed dog fence left me with lasting impressions.

Back on the train for the overnight journey into Adelaide, I enjoyed sharing memories with new-found friends over dinner and drifting off to sleep with the gentle rock of the rails.

As The Ghan heads into its 90th year, it certainly deserves a place on every Australian's bucket list as a unique way to explore the heartland of Australia.

See more of Kerry's journeys at eatdrinkandbekerry.net.

 

Top tips

 

Pack light because storage is limited

 

Choose comfortable clothes for weather conditions

 

If you prefer your own company or want dinner for two rather than a shared table, choose an 8-8.30pm dining time

 

Internet is sketchy, so download before you go.