The Ghanrail journey
Known as one of the world’s greatest rail journeys, The Ghan travels through the middle of Australia, visiting some of the NT’s best destinations along the way.
Between the 1860s and the 1930s, Afghan cameleers – also known as ‘Afghans’ or ‘Ghans’ – were shipped in and out of Australia at 3-year intervals, to transport goods throughout the harsh inland environment. In recognition of the trade routes they established connecting the remote cattle and sheep stations of the Outback to the capital cites on the coast – the naming of ‘The Ghan’ acknowledges their pioneering spirit and success in the rugged Australian Outback.
As you step aboard The Ghan, you're transported back in time to the golden age of train travel.
Choosing your Ghan journey
The 2,979km journey from Adelaide to Darwin (or vice versa) through the heart of the Red Centre provides the perfect balance of comfort and adventure, and access to parts of Australia in a way that no other travel experience can.
The journey can be broken down into smaller sections, which means you can always choose to do a part of the journey in a direction that suits you.
Adelaide to Darwin on The Ghan
Darwin to Adelaide on The Ghan Expedition
The Ghan Expedition, available April to October inclusive, is only available for travel from Darwin to Adelaide and includes:
- 4 days and 3 nights aboard The Ghan
- All-inclusive meals, wines, and beverages
- A regionally-inspired menu paired with wines
- Off Train Experiences in Katherine, Alice Springs, and Coober Pedy
- Evening Off-Train Experience in Manguri.
You also have the chance to purchase an optional upgrade for Nitmiluk Gorge during the Katherine stop, and another optional upgrade for Uluru during the Alice Springs stop.
Darwin to Adelaide on The Ghan
Darwin to Alice Springs on The Ghan
Alice Springs to Darwin on The Ghan
Alice Springs to Adelaide on The Ghan
Adelaide to Alice Springs on The Ghan
Services on board
During your time aboard, you'll experience luxurious dining in the Queen Adelaide Restaurant. Your passage will also include alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, and a choice of ‘Off Train Experiences’ as part of your fare. Optional upgrades for an additional fee may include a scenic flight to Uluru, helicopter flights at Nitmiluk Gorge or Alice Springs, or a camel ride.
While booking your trip, you'll have the option to choose your level of luxury:
- Platinum Service includes your own spacious cabin with full-size ensuite and private lounge with picture windows by day and double or twin beds by night.
- In Gold Twin Service, your comfortable sleeper cabin with ensuite and upper and lower berths converts to a three-seater lounge by day.
- In Gold Single Service, your compact sleeper cabin bed converts to a seat by day, with a shared bathroom in the carriage.
Sites along the way
Prior to departure from Darwin
If you’re starting your rail journey in Darwin, arrive a few days early and embrace one or more of the amazing experiences the Top End has to offer. What better way to prepare for the odyssey ahead?
Darwin to Katherine
The Ghan departs mid-morning from the Darwin Railway Station at East Arm – about 20 minutes’ drive from the CBD. The short trip to Katherine takes approximately 4 hours. As you relax in comfort and style, take in the passing views of the lush, green tropical surrounds. Enjoy a 5-star lunch in the restaurant prior to arriving in Katherine in the early afternoon. A choice of available Off Train Experiences to enjoy awaits. You can choose to explore Katherine on your own, or you can take advantage of one of the included excursions. There’s also a helicopter flight optional upgrade for Nitmiluk Gorge available for those seeking extra adventure.
Katherine to Tennant Creek
Back on the train for your next and longest leg of the journey: from Katherine to Tennant Creek. The majority of the 550km distance traversed through sparse desert country is covered through the night. The Ghan arrives in Tennant Creek at approximately 3am with a short chance to stretch your legs if you’re not deep in slumber.
Tennant Creek to Alice Springs
Your first night on The Ghan will be followed by the morning views of the spectacular desert country of Central Australia. The expansive blue sky, the yellow and green of the desert plants and the striking coloured sand of the Red Centre await. Rising up from the dirt to dominate the surrounding landscape to the east and the west are the MacDonnell ranges. Mparntwe (pronounced M-ban tua) or Alice Springs is the geographical centre of Australia and has been home to the Arrernte people for at least 45,000 years.
If Alice Springs is the final stop on your Ghan odyssey, you’ll arrive in the mid morning feeling refreshed and ready for a day of exploring. Take advantage of the opportunity to explore the Alice Springs region and its surrounding areas, such as the East MacDonnell Ranges, Tjoritja / West MacDonnell Ranges, Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park and Kings Canyon & Watarrka National Park.
For those continuing the journey onto Adelaide, a choice Off Train Experiences are available Alice Springs. As well as the option to explore the area on your own, is the opportunity to enjoy one of the included excursions. Options include a visit to the Alice Springs Desert Park, a Simpsons Gap Discovery Walk or the Alice Explorer experience (Royal Flying Doctor Service, Reptile Centre and Telegraph Station). Upgraded options, at additional cost, include a helicopter flight over Mt Gillen or a camel ride at Pyndan Camel Tracks. There’s also an optional upgrade for Uluru for a chance to marvel at the iconic monolith from both the ground and the air.
Alice Springs to Adelaide
Departing early afternoon, the beauty and immersive experience of Central Australia will be hard to leave behind as you continue on to Adelaide. After dinner, around 30 minutes outside of Coober Pedy you’ll stop at Manguri rail siding for a nightcap around a bonfire while taking in the stars in the pitch-black night sky undiluted by man-made lights. More of an an added bonus rather than an official Off Train Experience as such, this stop is only on the southbound journey from Darwin to Adelaide in March and November. It’s unlikely that you’ll find yourself in Manguri at any other time, making this a unique memory from your time on The Ghan.
Travellers on The Ghan Expedition will have an extra day touring in and around the unique underground opal mining township Coober Pedy before continuing on overnight to Adelaide.
Come morning, the view from your window will reveal a change in landscape, from the sun baked lunar landscape of the desert, to the semi-arid plant life atop the hills and grassy plains of the majestic Flinders Ranges. Enjoy a leisurely brunch as you pass through and prepare for your mid-morning arrival into Adelaide, to complete your incredible travel experience.
Do it all in reverse
You can do the trip in reverse and embrace the same opportunities to relax and take in the journey, along with similar experiences to explore and enjoy – just on a slightly different schedule.
Check out the timetables to see which direction of travel and which time of year suits you best.