of it’s journey the Ghan reached it first stop in its Expedition 2015. Passengers started to alight on the platform a short distance from where tour coaches waited.

Coaches whisked the passengers from the train, first for a tour of the town of Katherine, the crossroads of the north and fourth largest town with a population approaching ten-thousand in the Northern Territory.  

 Following a tour of the attractive town with a population approaching ten-thousand, the coaches headed  to the nearby Nitmiluk National Park Katherine Gorge on the Katherine River. National Park is owned by the First People, the Jawoyn.

The introduction to the Nitmiluk Gorge is through  the visitors centre. Visitors can view the galleries, have a meal at the restaurant or seek assistance from the staff.  A short walk leads to the river and the gorge tour boats that provide a leasurely tour of the river and the gorge.  The clear waters invite a swimmer just as much as they invite salt-water crocodiles during the wet season. Rangers regularly set traps and relocate the animals. It is still their domain along with  the relatively harmless fresh water crocodiles.

With the boats loaded, the tours headed up the river toward the gorge. Quite frequently a crocodile was sighted and some large ones.  Sandy beaches along the river have signs displayed indicating it is a crocodile nesting area.

The reptilian presence is overshadowed when entering the gorge. Rising from the clear waters are the towing cliffs, carved over the centuries by the flooding Katherine River. The scenery is spectacular; not only cliffs rise vertically, some are underscored by rock overhangs.

Guides explained the creation of the gorge, pointing out flora native to the area, some used as medicine by the first people and people of today.

Back in Katherine the coach stopped at the Ghan where it  waited. With  all passengers aboard the train pulled smoothly, almost silently from terminal.

The lounge car was exceptionally busy not only with the many topics of conversation but the service of  pre-dinner refreshments. The evening meal in the Queen Adelaide Restaurant car exceeded expectations. To that stage a different menu was presented for the three course meal and in the entire journey, the menu for all meals changed. Later in the night the train sped on as guests retired to their cabins.

The Ghan skirted east of the McDonnell ranges before entering and pulling into the Alice Springs Terminal. Once more coaches waited and guests boarded for city tours and visits to places of interest in the Alice.

Some coaches, following a tour of the Alice headed to the Reverend John Flynn Memorial with magnificent views of the McDonnell ranges. It was then on to Telegraph Hill where communications between Adelaide and Darwin first commenced in the 1870’s. On arrival at this historic site, staff from the Ghan were busy preparing tables for lunch. Under the gums that might have inspired the art of Albert Namatjira and beside the old brick buildings that once housed the overland telegraph, lunch was served.

A visit to the Telegraph Station is a quite memorable event. There is much history to be seen and of course, the gums that provide shelter.

(Continued on next page:)

 

Following a sumptuous three-course meal there was time for a stroll along the banks of the Todd River a short distance away before boarding the coaches and returning to the Alice and the Flying Doctor Service Hospital. In the theatre a film spoke of the RFDS and shortly after its commencement, John Flynn walks onto the stage from the wings

 

    Flynn Memorial;                                                                                            Telegraph Station

Left: Katherine Gorge.

North to South

By

John Gavin

Where the seasons change, the effect of the Monsoon ends, Spring, summer, winter and autumn return and the red heart of Australia begins. This is where the sleek silver train with two red locomotives. owned and operated by Great Southern Rail glided almost silently into the town of Katherine in the rthern Territory. 

Three-hundred-kilometres from the beginning