These days a rail adventure of international renown, The Ghan – the train service which travels year-round between Adelaide and Darwin – is remarkable for several reasons, not least the fact that it exists at all. Work first started on a rail line that would join the two cities in 1877, but poor engineering practices coupled with a flimsy understanding of seasonal rains meant decades of failed attempts. The service takes its name from the Afghan cameleers who had nailed Outback travel rather more effectively.
A workable stretch of track from Adelaide to Alice Springs was in place from the 1930s, although it wasn’t until as recently as 2004 that it finally reached Darwin. It’s a blessing that it now does. There are three types of ticket available: Red Service, Gold Service and Platinum Service. Red Service gives you a “Daynighter” seat and a view of the plains rolling by – plump for anything higher and you’re treated to a smart private cabin, indulgent food and wine, off-train tours and a general sense of rail travel as it should be. Highly recommended. See gsr.com.au or call 1800 703 357 for more information.