The Ghan, Austraia
A trip on the Ghan is one of the world’s great train journeys. This legendary train travels for 1,850 miles, linking Adelaide in the south and Darwin in the north by rail (and vice versa). The Ghan Train is the best way to see Australia’s famous Red Centre, one of the most celebrated wildernesses in the world.
On the classic two-night, three-day journey you can travel from either Darwin or Adelaide, passing through Alice Springs on the way. On board you’ll find comfortable cabins, great Aussie food and some funny new friends. This all-inclusive journey takes you right to the centre of this incredible country. As well as the scheduled stops, you can also add on some great off-train experiences included a visit to world famous Uluru. The train is operated by Journey Beyond Rail Expeditions, the company behind the India Pacific and Great Southern.
Prices from: Aus $2,349
Carriages: up to 37
Departing from: Adelaide and Darwin stations
Journey length: 1 to 3 nights
The Ghan journey
The classic two-night journey on The Ghan takes about 54 hours with a midday northbound departure arriving in Darwin late afternoon and a southbound departure at 10am, arriving in Adelaide at lunchtime. There are usually two trains a week in each direction and the journey can be broken in Alice Springs so passengers can disembark to visit nearby Uluru and Kings Canyon.
On the northbound journey, guests get to travel through Manguri (the stop for opal-rich Coober Pedy where the locals live in caves because of the searing heat) then stops in Alice Springs for a tour of the town including visits to the Flying Doctor Service Museum and the Telegraph Station. Heading on northwards the train pauses at Tennant Creek before heading to the tropical city of Darwin.
As well as the two-night journey travellers can also enjoy a southbound-only trip – the Ghan Expedition. This adds another night on to your journey, taking 73 hours in all. On the trip you’ll enjoy off-train adventures in Katherine and Coober Pedy plus an unforgettable dinner under the stars at the historic Telegraph Station in Alice Springs. If time or money is tight, you can also experience the Ghan on a one-night journey too – on the ‘Top End Discovery’, travelling between Alice Springs and Darwin or the ‘Red Centre Explorer’ from Adelaide to Alice Springs.
The Ghan train
The size of the train depends on the season. In the summer season it consists of 44 carriages and two locomotives. For a 9-week period this makes the Ghan Australia’s longest passenger train at 1.1km in length. Its distinctive pillar box red livery makes it one of the most photographed trains in the world.
The Ghan Cabins
There are four levels of service on the Ghan: Gold Service Single, Gold Service Twin, Gold Superior and Platinum.
Gold Service Single – this compact sleeper cabin features a bed that converts to a seat by day. Shared shower/WC facilities are located at the end of the carriage. Your luggage allowance is 60kg per guest.
Gold Service Twin – this has three seats which convert into sleeping berths; twin cabins have an ensuite WC and shower. Your luggage allowance is 60kg per guest.
Gold Superior – this gives you a 3/4-size double bed, ensuite bathroom and a TV. Your luggage allowance is 60k per guest
Platinum – these cabins are almost twice the size of Gold with a double bed or twin beds, lounge chairs, a table and full-size ensuite bathroom. In the carriage you’ll enjoy large window views from both sides of the carriage as well as Bollinger champagne, Australian Appelles Apothecary toiletries, Haigh’s chocolates and a complimentary nightcap at turndown.
Food and drink
The food on this train is of the same high standard you will find across Australia so expect great local steaks and salads and some tasty desserts. You’ll also get to taste some great Australian wines with your dinner. On board you will also find a lively lounge car – the perfect spot for an after-dinner nightcap. Vegetarian and special dietary meals are available when you make your booking.
Ghan dress code
The Ghan has a smart casual dress code on board but it’s pretty laid back so you don’t really need to dress up. Because you’re travelling to the centre of Australia it is really important to take a SPF30 sunscreen, comfortable walking shoes and a wide-brimmed hat. You should also pack plenty of mosquito repellent.
As one of the wold’s most famous train journeys, the Ghan attracts visitors from around the world, both young and old. You’ll also find lots of friendly Aussies on board too – it’s surprising how many of them are visiting the centre of Australia for the first time.
All accommodation, drinks and meals are included in the price as well as off-train excursions. Platinum guests are also given private transfers to the train at the start and beginning of their journeys, within a 60-kilometre radius of the terminal.
Pros and cons
You will be filling your travel bucket list with a trip on the Ghan where the food and accommodation are very good. The only disappointment is that a two-night journey can feel a bit too rushed. Book the three-night trip instead so you can get off and really explore the Outback.