To truly experience Australia, you have to travel to its heart and discover the vastness of this ancient place.
1. The Ghan.
Australia’s interior is an extraordinary landscape of national parks, crystal-clear waterholes and outback charm. A vast and remote terrain, it’s deeply ingrained in Australian history and culture. Early settlers endured hardship to cross it, but today you can make the journey in a few memorable days onboard Australia’s legendary all-inclusive train, The Ghan Expedition.
The Ghan Expedition is a front-row seat to Australia’s most iconic sights: the tropical Top End, stark red deserts and jaw-dropping wildlife. Running on the historic railway line from Darwin to Adelaide, it’s an all-inclusive journey chocked with immersive off-train offerings like a Nitmiluk Gorge cruise, an Outback cattle station visit or even dining under the stars.
Onboard, you’ll experience the finest regionally-inspired dining: Whether it be the local barramundi or a pour from the huge range of Australian wines, you’ll find a menu reflecting the freshest local ingredients. With two levels of service, you can pick the perfect fit. To experience even more, ask your consultant about The Ghan’s unique add-on packages.
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“Book early! The Ghan is very popular and almost always sells out,” says Liz Hobson at House of Travel Northlands
. “If you start or end in Darwin, a sunset harbour cruise is great for something different. The Beach Sunset Markets, on Thursdays and Sundays, are worth a visit too!”
2. The Red Centre.
This incredible region – in the heart of Australia – a tapestry of desert plains, rugged mountain ranges, stark gorges and many of Aboriginal Australia’s most sacred sites including Uluru and Kata Tjuta.
We recommend the experiences you can only have here:
In Alice Springs, float in an outback waterhole sitting deep within an ancient gorge. Get up close to a kangaroo and watch birds of prey in free flight at the Alice Springs Desert Park. Discover fascinating history and Aboriginal art galleries and hike the famous Larapinta Trail through the majestic Tjorita/West MacDonnell Ranges.
Perhaps Australia’s most iconic natural monument, Uluru is an unforgettable sight. Watch the watercolour changes across Uluru at sunrise and sunset. Dine under the stars to the soulful sounds of a didgeridoo. Walk the base with an Aboriginal guide, take a helicopter or motorbike tour or even go by Segway. The rounded domes of Kata Tjuta aren’t far; join a bushwalking track or book a tour.
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Don’t miss the soaring rock domes of Kata Tjuta. “The Olgas are really worth seeing,” says Northlands’ Liz Hobson. “I did helicopter trip over them. It’s amazing how big they are, which you don’t fully get with just a two-dimensional view!”
3. The Top End.
It’s easy to forget just how massive the Northern Territory is – nearly six times the size of Victoria and so big it comprises totally different climate zones. While the Red Centre is full of sunburnt landscapes, the Top End is tropical and lush.
This is the region that boasts World Heritage-listed Kakadu National Park, a place brimming with birds and their massive crocodile neighbours, which you can safely spot from an early-morning cruise. What’s more, Kakadu’s Aboriginal rock art is some of the oldest and best preserved in the country.
The remote Arnhem Land, a wild landscape of weathered rock formations, safari lodges, glimmering waterways, accessible bush walks and white sandy beaches, is often called the country’s best kept secret. This vast area is one of Australia’s last strongholds of traditional Aboriginal culture.
If relaxation is more your ticket, Northlands’ Liz Hobson recommends steeping away in one of the region’s natural hot springs. “Mataranka Hot Springs in the Katherine Region are very popular,” she says, “And Berry Springs, just 45 minutes out of Darwin, are definitely worth a visit.”
And of course the Northern Territory’s capital city, Darwin, is full of buzzy eateries and pubs. Its galleries and outdoor spaces offer a chance to explore in depth its military heritage.
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Sam Hepburn at House of Travel Masterton
recommends taking in a movie at Darwin’s open-air Deckchair Cinema. “Grab a drink and some local cuisine, then sit back under the festoon lighting to enjoy a film!”