The Ghan

The Australian super train connects the cities of Adelaide in the South and Darwin in the North. The Ghan handles the about 3,000 kilometres across four climate zones within four days. The passengers experience the impressive Australian landscape and enjoy at the same time an excellent onboard service.



What has a camel to do with a train? At the end of the 19th century, there weren't any trucks or railways in Australia. The inland freight traffic was primarily handled by camel caravans. These caravans were mostly led by Afghan camel leaders. To honour these camel leaders, the train was initially called "The Afghan Express". This has then evolved into the name "The Ghan".



The Ghan offers comfort for everyone. Apart from the passenger, saloon, dining and baggage wagons, the train may also have a car carrying wagon if necessary. The passengers travel in three categories. The "Red Service" is particularly popular among young tourists. The inexpensive ticket in this class comprises a comfortable seat with reading lamp inside the large-capacity wagon. More demanding guests book a small first class cabin, the so-called "Gold Service". The compartments of the "Premium Service" are really comfortable. The elegant hotel rooms on wheels offer an area of 8 m² and an own bathroom. While the "Red Service" travellers must pay for the meals, beverages and the excursions, all offers are included in the ticket price of the other two categories.


Depending on the direction of travel, the train stops in many significant places along the route for exciting excursions. On the North-South route, the first stop is the city of Katherine. From there, it is worth visiting the Nitmiluk National Park. The Katherine River with its length of 12 kilometres crosses 13 canyons. In some places, their rock faces fall away sharply for up to 70 metres. Far away from any civilization near the geographical centre of Australia there is the city of Alice Springs. The most popular attraction near Alice Springs is the worldwide known Uluru, better known as Ayers Rock. The small town of Cooper Pedy lies about 840 kilometres northwest of Adelaide. Opals have been mined there since 1915 and then further processed to gemstones. Since it is very hot in summer, many inhabitants of Cooper Pedy live in underground flats.



Until 2004, The Ghan exclusively travelled between Adelaide and Alice Springs, before the route between Alice Springs and Darwin had been completed. In case of regular utilization, the train measures approx. 774 metres in length and weighs about 1,400 tons. Two diesel locomotives pull 30 wagons. The train travels at an average speed of 85 kph, the maximum speed is 115 kph.


Photos: Reinhard Dietrich