|This year, Australia’s legendary long distance train, The Ghan celebrates 10 years since its inaugural transcontinental journey across Australia.|
|On 1 February 2004, The Ghan train departed the South Australian city of Adelaide for the very first time on its 2,979km crossing through the heart of the country to the Top End. Two days later, the train arrived at the Northern Territory capital of Darwin. To mark the milestone, The Ghan gives us 10 reasons to explore Australia by rail this year:
1. Size matters
When it takes three days, two nights and a staggering 2,797km to complete a rail journey, you know you’re in for an adventure of sizeable proportions
2. Train your palate
More than 1.3 million restaurant-quality dishes are served aboard The Ghan every year. Whether you’re up for grilled saltwater barramundi, pasture-fed pork cutlet with macadamia and sage, Coorong Angus beef medallion or wild lime and coconut tart, it’s on the menu.
3. Half a million tracks made
4. All-inclusive, all year round
Platinum and Gold Service guests on board the Ghan can now enjoy fully regionally-based dining, on-board beverages and fascinating Off Train Excursions at key stops, as standard extras.
5. Prestigious history
While the Ghan has traversed Australia for the past decade, the train itself actually dates back to 1929 when it used to travel between Adelaide and Alice Springs.
6. 40,000 years of history in a day
More than 35,000 guests last year enjoyed the ancient wonders of Katherine Gorge. Marvel at the sheer sandstone cliffs, Aboriginal rock art and cruise the tropical waters where you might even spot a croc!
7. Meet new mates
The on-board Outback Explorer Lounge is open round the clock, where you can enjoy a complimentary beverage or two and meet some new travel companions.
8. Visit a town called Alice
There’s nothing malicious about the quintessential Outback town of Alice Springs, which you can explore with your choice of complimentary Off Train Excursions.
9. Go your own way
Whether you’re up for a backpacking adventure in Red Service, travelling in comfort by yourself or with a partner in Gold Service or immersing yourself in luxury in Platinum Service, there’s on-board accommodation to suit all needs and budget.
10. Early bird specials
Book your Ghan adventure by 30 April 2014 for travel from 1 November 2014 onwards to save 25% off your journey. Prices start from £964 per person for Gold Twin Service with dining, beverages and Off Train Excursions included.
Book your Ghan Adventure now!
Alternatively, take a look at Great Rail Journey’s epic 22 day tour of Australia, which as well as the Ghan journey itself also takes in The Great Barrier Reef, dinner under the stars by Uluru, Sydney and the Blue Mountains, a Barossa Valley wine tour and 4 other scenic railways, including the majestic Kurunda Railway, with return flights from London Heathrow, from £6,075 per person.
10 Ghan facts to go’han about
1. The name and symbol of the Ghan was inspired by the pioneering cameleers (many of them Afghans or as they were widely known, ‘Ghans), who more than 150 years ago first established a permanent trail to the Red Centre.
2. In World War II, the Ghan played a vital role in transporting troops. Each year, The Ghan pays tribute to veterans with its special Anzac Tribute journey between Adelaide to Darwin.
3. From Adelaide to Alice Springs, the Ghan track originally consisted of wooden sleepers. The desert termites dined on the sleepers as quickly as they were laid. Flash flooding also frequently washed the track away so in 1980, the old rail track was abandoned in favour of a new standard gauge line built with concrete sleepers.
4. When the Ghan departed Adelaide for its inaugural journey to Darwin, it was the longest passenger train in Australian history, stretching more than 1km with two locomotives and 43 carriages.
5. The 43 carriages on the first journey to Darwin included four ‘Special Carriages’ – the Chairman’s, Sir Hans Heysen, Sir John Forrest and Prince of Wales carriages.
6. The average weight of The Ghan is 847 tonnes (single – 16 carriages) and 1,344 tonnes (double – 26 carriages), excluding the locomotive. For the inaugural journey to Darwin, the total weight exceeded 2,000 tonnes.
7. Work on the 1,420km line commenced in April 2001 with the eventual cost reaching AU$1.34 billion – AU$741 million from private enterprise and AU$559 million from the government. It remains one of Australia’s largest ever infrastructure projects.
8. When construction was finally completed in January 2004, workers had used 15 million cubic metres of earthworks, 146,000 tonnes of metal rail, 2 million concrete sleepers, 3,500 tonnes of structural steel, 2.8 million tonnes of ballast and built 93 bridges.
9. The average speed of the train is 85km/hour with a maximum speed of 115km/hour.
10. The total length of the journey is 2,979km, which takes 54 hours to complete.
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February 13, 2014 by Jools Stone