The Ghan, South Australia

The Ghan, Northern Territory. © Tourism NT

The Ghan

Adelaide – Alice Springs – Darwin
3 days rail

Travel from Australia’s south to north on one of the world’s greatest train journeys. Board in Adelaide and watch South Australia’s rolling green hills make way for desert, the rusty Red Centre and finally the tropical splendour of the Top End. Or get on in Darwin and see the landscapes dance in the opposite direction.  Explore the famous outback towns of Alice Springs and Katherine on a whistle stop tour. Visit sacred Aboriginal sites around Alice Springs or take a scenic helicopter flight over Simpsons Gap. Cruise down the Katherine Gorge, canoe down Katherine River or choose from other tailored Ghan adventures.

The Ghan
The Ghan

Day 1 – Adelaide – Alice Springs

Board Adelaide midday
Settle into your cabin or seat and watch Adelaide’s gracious edges flatten into wine country, desert and scrubs. Pass through coastal Coonamia and Port Augusta. Cross over Dog Fence, the world’s longest fence and speed through Cadney Homestead at the gateway to the Painted Desert. Look out at the small, rustic railway towns and vast tracts of Aboriginal land, where communities have maintained their connection with the land for thousands of years. In the morning, you’ll cross the Northern Territory border and travel through the small bush town of Kulgera and over the sandy Finke River. Take in the multicoloured vistas with morning tea before arriving in Alice Springs.

Red Centre, NT
Red Centre, NT

Day 2 – Alice Springs – Katherine

Arrive Alice Springs midday
Explore Alice Springs on one of the many whistle stop tours. Learn about the area’s outback pioneers or immerse yourself in its Aboriginal history with a Central Arrernte guide. Visit a working camel farm or see the region’s birds and wildlife at Alice Springs Desert Park. Fly over Simpson’s Gap and the Larapinta Trail on a helicopter or go quad biking across the desert. To see the sights at your own pace, take the 70-minute shuttle bus with an experienced guide and hop off as you wish at the major attractions. Reboard in the late afternoon and watch the train pull out of Alice before the sunset flames on the horizon. In the morning you’ll race through the gold-mining town of Tennant Creek and into the historic pioneering township of Katherine.   

Mataranka, NT
Mataranka, NT

Day 3 –Katherine to Darwin

Arrive Katherine morning
Hop off in Katherine just after breakfast and head off on one of the many half-day tours. You can cruise down Katherine Gorge past magnificent sandstone cliffs or fly over its interconnecting gorges on a helicopter. Get up close to the birds and animals of Nitmiluk National Park on a nature cruise or canoe down the Katherine River. If you just want to explore the town, take the shuttle bus and hop off at attractions such as the Railway Museum, historic Springvale Homestead and the local Aboriginal art gallery.

Depart Katherine early afternoon
Pass through the old gold mining town of Pine Creek and Adelaide River, once a World War II military headquarters when the Japanese were bombing Darwin.  

Arrive Darwin late afternoon
The dusty plains make way for tropical foliage as you roll into the capital of Darwin. Your Ghan journey ends here, but you can continue your adventure in Darwin’s parks, harbour, historical attractions and outdoor festivals and markets. This is also your gateway to the waterfalls and rock pools of Litchfield National Park and the colourful communities of the Tiwi Islands.

At a Glance

The Ghan

 

More Australian Ideas