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DESTINATIONS AUSTRASIA | THE GHAN


THE GHAN


The Ghan is divided into two classes: Gold and Platinum.


Gold Service


Most Gold cabins are set up as twins, with a sofa by day and bunk beds by night, converted each morning and evening by the crew. These also have a


very small en suite wet room bathroom. There are also


Gold single cabins which offer compact private single berths, converting from a seat by day to a bed by night, and with shared bathroom facilities.


Platinum Service


For more comfort, it’s worth booking a Platinum cabin.


These are about twice the size of the Gold twins and have either a double or twin bed – with no clambering up a ladder involved. Platinum cabins have a much larger bathroom with separate shower cubicle, and


access to the Platinum Club, a premium lounge and dining car.


place to visit and earlier we had been entranced by the bush that surrounds it, heading out into the towering West MacDonnell Ranges for a series of short walks. Our first ran between the stark white trunks of ghost gums, where we stopped in our tracks to let lizards cross the dusty red path and learnt about Aboriginal bush skills – which tree to use as natural sunscreen and which bush is home to the tasty and nutritious witchetty grub. Our second took us up Cassia Hill for a view


across the ranges, while the final stroll elicited the most excitement, as we headed out along a dry riverbed to the permanent waterhole at Simpsons Gap in search of black-footed rock-wallabies. Here we paused a while, finding a shady spot to


recline on the warm rocks and look up into the cliffs. Suddenly, a movement hushed our group and we stood in a huddle, taking photos and trying to be still as a trio of wallabies froze on the rocks and stared at us. Finally, they decided we were best avoided, and we watched them hop, with speed and grace, across the rocks and out of sight.


At each of the Ghan’s calling points there are various options for excursions. Another group toured the School of the Air, which for decades has taught children in remote communities by radio or online, and the Royal


56 11 JULY 2019


CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT: Black-footed rock-wallaby; The Ghan Gold Service Twin cabin; Simpsons Gap, Alice Springs; guide at Nitmiluk Gorge


PICTURES: Heather Dinas Photography; World Expeditions/ Great Walks of Australia


33Three black-footed rock- wallabies froze on the rocks and stared at us before hopping away with speed and grace


Flying Doctor Service, which brings emergency medical care to cattle stations and isolated communities. We all rejoined the train that night with a greater understanding of what life in the middle of the outback can be like.


NATURAL HIGHS We had departed Darwin on a Wednesday, pulling out from the station on our 902-metre steed, a chain of 38 carriages undertaking a 1,850-mile journey. Our first stop had been Katherine, for a cruise


through the astounding Nitmiluk Gorge. This has been carved by the Katherine River through the sandstone Arnhem Land plateau over millennia and its sheer ochre cliffs stretch up on either side of our simple tin boat as we hear the stories of the indigenous Jawoyn people, passed down through the generations.


² travelweekly.co.uk


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