The Ghan isn’t just an incredible train journey, it’s also a great way to explore the Australian outback. Each 3000-kilometre trip on The Ghan – which celebrates its 90th anniversary in 2019 – stops at several of Central Australia's remote wonders, making hopping aboard an easy way to see more of the vast stretch of Australia.
The 13 ancient sandstone gorges that comprise Nitmiluk Gorge, one of Australia’s most spectacular natural wonders, stretch for hundreds of kilometres through the outback. Stop here on The Ghan and you can see the towering rock formations from the boat that cruises through there, keeping an eye out for wildlife while listening to Dreamtime stories from the land’s traditional owners, the Jawoyn people. You can also explore the First Gorge on foot, where you'll find Indigenous rock art dating back to the last Ice Age. There’s even the option of seeing Nitmiluk from the sky in a chartered helicopter, which allows you to truly appreciate the enormity of the site.
There are plenty of reasons to visit the unique Tjoritja/West MacDonnell National Park west of Alice Springs but one of the most compelling is a chance to visit Simpsons Gap, a break in the rock with plenty of walking trails where you might spot a sweet black-footed rock wallaby bouncing along the track.
If you have time for an independent journey, there are several safe, popular swimming holes in the park, including Ellery Creek Big Hole and Ormiston Gorge.
Alice Springs is one of the most isolated towns on earth, at 1500 kilometres from Darwin and almost 30 hours’ drive from Sydney. Luckily, then, it’s right on The Ghan's path. Stop off for a day in Alice and you’ll get to experience the beating heart of Australia’s red centre. This is the home base of both correspondence classroom School of the Air and the Royal Flying Doctor Service, the aeromedical organisation that provides much-needed healthcare services in remote areas. Visit both for a taste of what life way off the beaten track is like.
Seeing Uluru up close is a pilgrimage travellers cross the globe for and when you’re riding on The Ghan Expedition, it’s offered as an upgrade from Alice Springs. A scenic chartered flight can take you directly to Ayers Rock Airport, where you’ll land before travelling to the Mutitjulu Waterhole and Uluru by vehicle. You’ll then fly around the landmark to take in unforgettable aerial views, before heading back to Alice via Kata Tjuta to complete your look at the immensity of the Northern Territory.
Coober Pedy is a town unlike anywhere else in Australia. Thanks to its desert location, summer temperatures in the opal-mining hub regularly exceed 40°C. To beat the heat, more than half of the town’s population live underground in homes and community buildings dug into the soil, including an art gallery inside a network of tunnels. Come to Coober Pedy and you can walk around these subterranean settlements for a look at a truly unique part of Australia.
The Ghan Expedition takes guests to Coober Pedy from the middle-of-nowhere station of Manguri – a spot so remote that you really can’t visit it any other way.