All Aboard… The Ghan
Why does it take a pandemic and a raft of international travel restrictions for Australians to truly appreciate the wonder and splendour that is uniquely ‘The Outback’?
As soon as the Northern Territory graciously opened her doors to South Australian residents, we were booked on The Ghan Expedition from Darwin to Adelaide.
Recognised as one of the world’s greatest rail journeys, The Ghan certainly lived up to her lofty status on the luxury global platform and didn’t disappoint.
The Ghan has the enviable reputation of consistently delivering spectacular reviews of their staff, service and dining in both the Platinum Club and Queen Adelaide restaurant. Quite frankly, we can only echo that long chorus of accolades because Journey Beyond Rail has simply perfected the playbook when it comes to The Ghan.
We left Darwin on a leisurely mid-morning departure en route to Katherine. The wonderous Nitmiluk Gorge had been on my radar for quite some time and we had the opportunity to take the helicopter excursion and explore the aerial landscape of the 13 gorges that comprise Nitmiluk Gorge. The sheer enormity of the river and the complexity of the system simply took our breath away.
Next stop Alice Springs and a myriad of excursions awaited the Platinum and Gold guests for the day. I had the opportunity to take a scenic flight to Uluru and spent the day with a tour guide for a truly immersive experience of Kata Tjuṯa (The Olgas) and Uluru (Ayers Rock).
It was yet another tick off the bucket list to have an ‘up close and personal’ experience with this mesmerising monolith. Again, the Ghan chefs thought of everything and packed mouth-watering individual picnic lunches for us to enjoy at the base of Uluru. It was the ultimate lunching location at what is widely regarded as the spiritual heart of Australia.
Just when we thought it couldn’t get any better, we were whisked off to the Alice Springs Telegraph Station for a magical dinner under the stars. We were greeted with exquisite champagne, fine wines and enjoyed an authentic outback experience like no other. Our fabulous chefs from the Ghan created yet another delectable feast while we dined under a chandelier of stars. A beautiful ending to a truly memorable day in Alice Springs.
The last stop on the journey south was Coober Pedy. Unfortunately, due to an extreme weather system from the west of the country, the track from Manguri to the township was inaccessible. Instead, we were feted with local delicacies onboard by the superb and ever-attentive Ghan staff.
From the rustic hues of the outback to the lush green landscape of the Adelaide Hills, we approached our destination of the Parklands terminal. Journey Beyond Rail ensured a seamless disembarkation process and our baggage was unloaded and awaiting identification as soon as our feet touched the platform.
After three wonderful nights and four glorious days aboard The Ghan, why would we expect anything less?
The train is a small world moving through a larger world.Elisha Cooper