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Let's be honest, the majority of us visit Australia for its cities and its coastline. Very few of us have ventured into the heart of its interior, to those long “forgotten” internal lands that Wikipedia tell us are arid and endless.
If you’re intrigued about what does exist in Australia’s great middle, jump aboard The Ghan and experience The Ghan Expedition.
Is there any bigger adventure than delving into the total unknown?
Day 1: Darwin to Katherine
Step from platform to train and you’ll instantly exchange the hustle of the 21st century for the luxury – and languidness – of a timeless mode of transport. One where luxury meets locomotives and every experience is a memorable one. Flying may be fast, but train journeys stay with you forever. While you absorb the decadence of your new home for three nights, a staff member will guide you down the corridor to your private cabin:
Gold Service: Space is neatly used in these two single bunk cabins. With a picture window to absorb the passing scenery and a compact but well-facilitated en-suite bathroom.
Platinum Service: Feature a double bed, or two single beds, and en suite, as well as a picture window either side of the cabin, allowing for views on both sides of the track.
Gold Service Cabin
All room types boast luxurious amenities, including Appelles Apothecary toiletry range, made from Australian native ingredients and sourced sustainably. For those who fear the suitability of a moving bathroom, all of The Ghan’s en-suites boast great shower pressure and a bountiful supply of hot water.
Post lunch, your first included Off Train Excursion with the Ghan Expedition is to the spiritual Nitmiluk (Katherine) Gorge. As with the majority of The Ghan’s outings, you have a choice here. Take a cruise to explore ancient Indigenous rock art, or upgrade your agenda and soar over the gorge by helicopter or small charter plane. Alternatively, stay with your feet firmly on the ground and visit a working cattle station, complete with cattle dog demonstrations and live music performances. Whichever you choose, the magic of Nitmiluk will pull you in the moment you step foot upon its dusty soil. With the sound of cicadas ringing in your ears and the sun pelting down upon the gorge’s sheer sandstone cliffs, you’ll hear stories from the native Jawoyn people and get your first taste of life in the Northern Territory.
Back on board you'll return to the Queen Adelaide Restaurant. Adorned in the exact manner in which you’d envisage, classic four-seater booths are set with starched white linen and gleaming silver cutlery. Each booth has a full picture window so you can look out longingly at the landscape (or the passing kangaroos and camels) while you dine.
Day 2: Alice Springs
Nothing quite gets you set for the day like an Outback sunrise, although the plentiful tea, coffee and full English breakfast will also help. Today you’ll arrive in Alice Springs and embark on a full day of small town exploration. As night falls you’ll be attending an event that is one of The Ghan Expedition's much revered highlights. The quintessential Aussie barbie at the Telegraph Station in Alice Springs. Better yet, the gas will be burning under a full blanket of Outback stars. Following a dusk camel ride and a flurry of canapes, tuck into a succulent offering of steak while sipping on flutes of limitless sparkling wine. All food and alcohol is included in your Ghan Expedition ticket price so there’s no reason for your glass to go empty.
Day 3: Coober Pedy
It's as barren as little lost Outback towns come, but Coober Pedy is quite possibly one of the most fascinating townships in Australia. Notably, because over half of the residents live underground. Also known as the sun-baked opal mining capital of the world, it’s little wonder the locals retreat below surface; the mercilessly hot sun is relentless. With the Ghan Expedition, discover the opal mines that have caused both fortune and hardship, and take a glimpse at the underground Serbian Orthodox church. You’ll enjoy an unconventional (but gratefully cool) lunch in an underground mine before driving out to the Kanku-Breakaways Conservation Park, to watch the sunset over a startling hillside and surrounding desert.
Time for a glass of bubbles back on The Ghan, don’t you think? For your final night of your Ghan Expedition, dine in style at the Queen Adelaide Restaurant and share your stories with your fellow diners. With the table cleared, retreat to the lounge, for more tall drinks - and even taller tales.
Day 4: Adelaide
Your three-night and four-day Ghan Expedition concludes in Adelaide. By day break, you’re gliding towards the state’s capital; the terrain increasingly more green, with ground the colour of saffron and spindly trunks of peeling eucalyptus trees. Adelaide is a foodie’s heaven, with world-class restaurants, rooftop bars and bustling markets packed with produce and energy. Disembark The Ghan with a full list of to-dos in the city and its burbs. With a profound culinary scene, Adelaide and its surrounding regions enjoy an abundance of fresh produce, from gooey cheese to just-shucked shellfish. The wine varietals are also extensive, with the odd (and oddly wonderful) Sparkling Shiraz an SA must-try. Extend your stay with trips to the Barossa Valley and Kangaroo Island, or simply reflect on your four-day stay aboard the impeccable Ghan train.
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