G’day on the Ghan

Australia finally lays tracks to the outback from Adelaide to Darwin

May 2, 2004
Outside Magazine
Australia's Ghan Train

LONG HAUL: The Ghan runs 1,851 miles

AT LAST, 126 YEARS after the north-to-south transcontinental route was conceived, Australia's legendary Ghan train is running the entire 1,851 miles between Adelaide and Darwin. Named for the camel-riding Afghans who once carried supplies to opal miners in the remote parts of the outback, the Ghan has been clickety-clacking the 969 miles between Adelaide and Alice Springs since 1929. After a 72-year gap and almost three years of laying mile upon mile of track through some of the most inhospitable parts of Australia, the second half of the line began service in early 2004. The 47-hour, two-night ride glides past the red-hued Macdonnell Ranges, over the baked earth of the Great Victoria Desert, and through vast sheep and cattle stations roamed by weathered jackaroos, or cowboys. On board, choose a Gold Kangaroo– class berth (some with private bathrooms) or settle into a semi-reclining seat—regardless, you'll gravitate to one of the lively lounge cars to clink cans of Victoria Bitter with the Aussies.

From Adelaide, stretch your train legs by bushwalking part of the 746-mile Heysen Trail (011-61-88212-6299, www.heysentrail.asn.au), which runs from Cape Jervis to the Parachilna Gorge in the Flinders Ranges. From Darwin, explore Kakadu National Park (011-61-88938-1100, www.deh.gov.au/parks/kakadu), a biocultural preserve that has been continuously inhabited for 60,000 years.

Details: Fares from Adelaide to Darwin start at $343 per person; 800-423-2880, www.gsr.com.au.

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