The Ghan Expedition - Australia

By Muzna Noohu | 12, Dec, 2017
The Ghan Expedition - Australia

Picture Credit - www.traveller.com.au

 

What is The Ghan Expedition?

A coast-to-coast journey would usually see people getting on a flight, but that means that they're missing out all the rich history, natural beauty, and amazing experiences that the lesser known places in between have to offer. That's why The Ghan Expedition is one of the best ways to travel in Australia; because not only does it take you from one place to another, the trip itself is an experience like no other!
 
The Ghan Expedition is one of the most popular and iconic trains in the world, and takes its passengers through an exciting and adventurous journey of around 1850 miles, from Darwin to Adelaide. Throughout the journey, passengers get to experience some of the best landscapes, cultures, food, and accommodation (even though its a moving train), and memories!
 

A Bit of History



Picture Credit - www.greatsouthernrail.com.au

The Ghan Expedition runs from Darwin to Adelaide, and the route it takes roughly follows the trails taken about 150 years ago by men on camels, all the way from Afghanistan. And that's where it gets its name from!
 
The Ghan began its run in 1929 on the Central Australian Railway, and was originally built as a 3ft 6 in long narrow-guage railway to Alice Springs. It was later replaced by a standard gauge line. The route was extended to Darwin only in 2004, after being privatised and taken over by Great Southern Rail (GSR) in 1997.
 
 
 

Food & Accommodation & Fares


Picture Credit - www.kingstours.com.au

Long gone are the days of men on the backs of camels. These days, the same journey can be taken in this luxurious train, but the experience is just as exciting. You could say that it's all the adventure and fun, but none of the pain or struggle.
 
Food and accommodation depends on the level of service you pick. Fares for the Ghan Expedition range from around $1250 to $4000, depending on the length of the journey, the time of year, and the class. Rates are all-inclusive of accommodation, food, and off-board excursions. You can check the fares and timetable at the Great Southern Railway website (http://www.greatsouthernrail.com.au/fares-and-timetables/fares/the-ghan-fares-2017-2018).
 
There are couple different packages to pick from:
 

Gold Service



Picture Credit - www.railplus.com.au

You can chose between a Gold twin-sharing or single room. Twin sharing rooms have bunk beds that convert into a three-seater lounger by day, and a private en suite. Single rooms have a bed that converts into a seat, and shared toilet/shower facilities. Gold service also includes breakfast, lunch and dinner at the Queen Adelaide restaurant inside the train.
 
 
 

Platinum Service



Picture Credit - www.welltravelled.com.au

Platinum cabins are almost double the size of a Gold twin room, and come with a private en suite with toiletries, a shower and vanity. By day, it resembles a deluxe living room, with a table and two Ottomans. By night, the lounge converts into a bed room with either a double bed or twin beds. Passengers of the platinum service are offered a hearty in-cabin continental breakfast upon request, two-course lunches and three-course dinners.
 
Note: The food is not Halal certified, and the restaurants serve alcohol. There are vegetarian and children's menus, but these might contain alcohol too. They do cater to special dietary requirements, but please do discuss your requirement for Halal food with the staff way in advance. At the very least, you could ask for vegetarian food that does not have any sort of alcohol or animal by-product.
 

Off-Train Excursions


Picture Credit - www.sundaypost.com

The trip on the Ghan expedition spans over a period of three nights and four days. Starting in Darwin, the train makes stops along the way in Katherine, Alice Springs and Coober Pedy before arriving in Adelaide. These stops include off-board excursions and adventures, and what they want to see or do is entirely up to the passengers. Here are the excursions that you could be a part of:
 

In Katherine:

 
Nitmiluk Gorge Cruise
Take a leisurely boat cruise down the Katherine River and marvel at awe-inspiring natural wonders.
 
Nitmiluk First Gorge Rock Art Cruise
A boat cruise where you get to learn about ancient secrets and witness an amazing display of indigenous rock art that has stood the test of time over thousands of years.
 
Katherine Outback Experience
Get an unmatchable look into the real Australian Outback and meet the people and animals who make it what it is.
 
Optional Upgrade – Nitmiluk Gorge Helicopter Flight
Fly over the enormous river and the monumental Nitmiluk Gorge which is made of 13 massive limestone formations – one of Australia's best natural wonders.
 
Optional Upgrade – Twin Parks Fixed Wing Scenic Flight
Explore one of Australia's most preserved, remote, and fascinating wildlife areas full of breathtaking waterfalls, foliage, wildlife, and landscapes.
 

In Alice Springs:

 
Alice Springs Desert Park & Outback BBQ Dinner
An experienced guide will take you on a guided walking tour through the Alice Springs Desert, one of the best deserts in Australia with over 200 desert animals and 400 plants to explore.
 
Alice Explorer and Outback BBQ Dinner
Explore this amazing town; visit the world's largest School of Air in the world, the Royal Flying Doctor Service Base, the Reptile Centre, the National Pioneer Women's Hall of Fame, and more.
 
Alice Explorer To Off Road and Outback BBQ Dinner
A mountain bike adventure that begins at the birthplace of Alice Springs, takes you are the famous dry Todd River, the Ilentye trail (with pink sand!), and more.
 
Simpsons Gap Discovery Walk and Outback BBQ Dinner
Take a walk through one of the largest and most striking gaps in the West MacDonnell Ranges. Marvel at the towering cliffs and spot wildlife that resides there.
 
Optional Upgrade – Uluru Fixed Wing Scenic Flight and Outback Pioneer Dinner
The chance to visit this iconic rock, known as Uluru or Ayers Rock is one amazing experience.
 

In Coober Pedy:

 
Explore Coober Pedy
Discover this amazing "underground town" of rich history, breathtaking views, and fortunes.
 
Opal Experience
Coober Pedy is known as the world's Opal capital. You'll get to see and learn about the rich history of Australia's stunning national gemstone at the Umoona Opal Mine and Museum.

 

Discover the Majestic Breakaways
A guided walking tour that gives you the chance to discover the breathtaking Breakaways of Coober Pedy.
 

What To Do In Darwin?


Picture Credit - www.australia.com
 
Darwin is the capital city of the Northern Territory of Australia, and is situated on the Timor Sea. This tropical city is the most laidback and uncrowded capital in the country. It also certainly feels different to he rest of the country with it's aboriginal cultures, Asian influences, and easygoing vibe. In Darwin, you can find everything from open-air movies, galleries and museums, to sunset cruises, Asian food markets, and a vibrant food scene.
 
Other things you can do in Darwin for an unforgettable Australian holiday is visit some of the most magnificent natural Australian attractions like the Litchfield National Park, the Tiwi Islands, Kakadu, and Arnhem Land.
 
Once you've had your fill of this unique and fascinating city, you can board The Ghan Expedition and take yourself to Adelaide!
 

What To Do In Adelaide?


Picture Credit - www.azamaraclubcruises.com

Adelaide is the capital city of South Australia and the fifth-most populous city in the country. This bustling city has a vibrant culture and innumerable opportunities to make memories. The city is known for it's awesome food scene and is a great place to get your credit cards out – cause it's time to go shopping!
 
You can also visit famous Australian attractions like the historic Port Adelaide, or visit the Cleland Conservation Park, the Adelaide Zoo, or the Adelaide Botanic Garden for a chance to witness the fascinating plant and wildlife of Australia. You can also explore the city's central market, chill out at the beach, or head for the mountains!
 
And the best time to visit Adelaide, Australia is: whenever! Because there is always something happening and something for you to do, no matter what time of the year it is.
 

Muzna is a writer experienced in all things travel and food, influenced by her own travels, running a food blog and YouTube channel, as well as the various publications she has contributed to.