The Ghan - A journey by train

Travel Guide

The Ghan - A journey by train

The Ghan - A journey by train

The Ghan - the name alone conjures up a magical experience.

The Ghan is an Australian passenger train service that travels between Adelaide, Alice Springs and Darwin on the Adelaide - Darwin railway. The Ghan usually runs weekly year-round and takes 54 hours to travel the 2,979 km, with a 4 hour stopover in Alice Springs to venture out on local tours.

The Ghan is an abbreviated version of its previous nickname, The Afghan Express. There is some debate about whether it was with respect to them, or a veiled insult. Either way, it referred to the Afghan camel drivers who arrived in Australia in the late 19th century to help the British colonists cross the country and into its interior. Due to the notorious unreliability of this fortnightly steam train, European pastoralists commonly called it "The Afghan Express".



The Ghan Train
The Ghan Train


The Ghan service was notorious for delays caused by washouts of the track. The new line is approximately 160 km west of the former line in order to avoid floodplains that often washed away the track during heavy rain.

The arrival of the Ghan in Darwin began a new era of tourism in the Northern Territory. Travel to the region became easier and more convenient. The rail link also allowed more freight to travel through the region, and provided better access to Aboriginal communities.

Along the Ghan’s journey you will see various landscapes as it travels through some of the harshest regions of Australia. You will see the outback alive with all kinds of wildlife.

Other modes of transportation don’t, or can’t take you as far into the interior as The Ghan can. The same can be said about other trains across Australia. You will be getting a front-row view to parts of the world exclusive to you & your fellow travellers.



The Ghan Train
The Ghan Train


Travelling on The Ghan will provide you a long, meditative train journey with plenty of time for reflection.

For all you train enthusiasts:

  • Each train has 16 to 38 stainless steel carriages built in 60’s-70’s (Granville) + a motorail wagon. A Pacific National NR class locomotive, plus a second locomotive if necessary. Occasionally other engines assist, such as an AN class or a DL class locomotive.
  • Originally built as a 1,067 mm narrow-gauge railway to Alice Springs. In 1957, they opened the 1,435 mm standard gauge Stirling North to Marree line. In 1980 the line was replaced by a standard-gauge line to the west of the original line, and the extension north from Alice Springs to Darwin opened in January 2004.
  • The original Ghan ran for the last time in 1980.
  • Construction of Alice Springs–Darwin line was believed to be the second largest civil engineering project in Australia, and the largest since the creation of the Snowy Mountains Scheme, after 126 years of planning and at a cost of A$1.3 billion.

Of Interest ...

The Ghan’s journey was the subject of a television documentary called 'The Ghan: Australia's Greatest Train Journey', which travelled the entire journey from Adelaide to Darwin. The journey was condensed into a 3 hour show with no voiceover. It showed the journey from different perspectives, from each side of the train, top & bottom, inside & out.



The Ghan. Adventure & Comfort.

Experience one of the world’s greatest rail journeys, across the outback of Australia.





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