Hauling up to thirty carriages on its route between Darwin and Adelaide; The Ghan is named  from the “Afghans” who once carried freight across Australia. The "Afghans" or "Ghans" were camel caravaners who worked in Outback Australia from the 1860s to the 1930s , The logo of the train is a camel with its handler mounted in the saddle.

The journey , The Ghan Expedition 2015, Darwin to Adelaide was via Katherine, Alice  Springs   and Coober Pedy to Adelaide; a four day three night journey to commemorate anniversaries of the renowned train.  The service was for Gold and Platinum guests only; it did not cater for the Red  service, motor vehicles or extraneous  carriages.

Perhaps the journey could be compared to the travels of  “The Doctor” in his vehicle TARDIS (Time And Relative Dimensions In Space.)  In many ways, the Ghan carried its passengers to very distant parts where the presence of man dates back some forty-thousand-years. The BBC may find inspiration in the time travel of the train.

Departure morning and Great Southern Rail and coaches collected passengers from various hotels in Darwin. It was then on to the Darwin Rail Terminal some 15 kilometre from the city. On arrival at the Terminal, the great silver train with two bright red locomotives waited silently, no smoke or steam and no measured chuffing of smoke. Indeed, it was silent.

At this stage, the logistics of  boarding and catering for 173 Gold and Platinum service passengers became evident. This was to continue through the entire journey. Passengers were settling into their cabins, some were starting to explore the train when departure was announced. Maria, the hostess responsible for carriage (i) leisurely explained the amenities including the operations of the  double cabin with ensuite.  It was breaking day when the train moved, imperceptibly with no clanging of carriages or other noise. The platform started to move, sorry; the train moved and slowly reached moderate speed as it passed through the  suburbs of Darwin.

It was time to explore, one carriage away, in the lounge car. Guests were startmg to drift in and bar staff were occupied serving tea, coffee and stronger drinks. Some of the faces had became recognizable, new ones appeared and introductions made.

All too soon, the first 300 kilometres of travel brought the Ghan to a gentle stop at Katherine. Brunch was being served in the Queen Adelaide Restaurant. Coaches arrived to provide transport to one of four locations of individual choice.  Katherine Gorge in the Nitmiluk National Park some thirty kilometres distance being one.

Needless to say, the Gorge was one of many highlights of the journey of the Ghan. This article will address travel on the Ghan only. The nearby Katherine Gorge is noted for its beauty. In future editions, Darwin, Kakadu, Arnhem Land, the Gorge, Alice Springs and Coober Pedy will be discussed..

(Continued on next page)

 

Luxury Hotel on Rails

by

John Gavin

A two-week stay at the Peninsula Hotel in Hong Kong in February 2015 was eclipsed by a rail journey across Australia in July 2015. To many, a comparison between The Peninsula and a train is an oxymoron; PiandO set out to  explain