The Ghan – An Iconic Australian Rail Journey

Written on Thursday, June 4, 2020 by the ghan

When my son was 8 years old it was his year to choose our annual mother/son holiday.  As he was a great fan of train travel and there was a big promotion on The Ghan taking place on TV each day this was an obvious choice.  While The Ghan was not something I’d considered or had on my immediate travel list I thought why not?  Something different and it was going to make a little boy very happy!  We flew into Adelaide where we were to commence our journey.  Just seeing and then boarding the train was the first part of the excitement.  For a start it’s huge!  A very impressive sight from the platform.  We had booked a Gold Twin Sleeper cabin.  The cabins are small but have all you need with a large seat for the day and then a top bunk that folds out at night.  Lucky for me the 8 year old was more than happy to clamber up there for an evening.  The cabin also had a private ensuite.

As we trundled with excitement out of Adelaide we made ourselves comfortable and then headed to the restaurant for lunch in the Queen Adelaide Restaurant. We were seated with two other diners and were presented with an absolutely amazing meal.  All local South Australian produce with delicious fresh ingredients and lots of yummy wine.  The food and drink onboard is a real highlight and all inclusive.  The afternoon was spent passing through coastal Coonamia and Port Augusta as well as crossing Dingo Fence, the world’s longest fence which was built to keep dingoes out of southeast Australia.  Before too long the scenery started to change to desert.  It’s fascinating sitting in your cabin or the Outback Explorer Lounge with a complimentary snack and a glass of bubbly and watching the Australian landscape go by.

We amused ourselves with games and movies that we’d brought along ourselves, afternoon tea and some chit chat with other passengers.  Learning about the history of The Ghan was so interesting for my son and we were lucky enough to meet another guest on board who was happy to fill us in and answer my sons many questions.  They even got into a game of chess over some scones! I was interested to learn that The Ghan used to be called the Afghan Express back in 1929, but the name was eventually changed to The Ghan.  Originally, The Ghan was used to transfer people and supplies to Alice Springs. In the early 2000’s the tracks were replaced, and the train received a modern look. Today, the north to south cross-country journey covers 2979 kilometers and passes through diverse landscapes of the South Australian plains, to MacDonnell Ranges and on to the tropical areas Katherine and Darwin.


Dinner that evening was again a major highlight.  Gorgeous Australian dishes to choose from such as Barramundi, kangaroo, stunning cheeses and of course Aussie wines. Being seated with another two travelers for each meal makes for a fun and interesting experience hearing others stories and why they are taking a trip on The Ghan.  During dinner the staff make up the top bunk in your room so you don’t need to do anything but fall into bed full and content.  The overnight trip was really comfortable and the light rocking of the train was a lovely way to fall asleep.  We were up early and refreshed the next morning for yet more amazing food and our arrival into Alice Springs.  This was to be the end of our Ghan journey as we were going to spend a night in Alice then head on to Kings Canyon & Uluru for a couple of nights to complete our trip.   The Ghan was a great experience, such an iconic Australian rail trip.  When you’re onboard you really feel like you are traveling in another era of time gone by. I’d highly recommend to anyone of all ages.


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