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Published: June 10th 2012
What a week is has been! We left the motor home in the caravan park in Adelaide last Wednesday and joined the Ghan for our railway trip to Darwin. We were to be on the train for three nights and two days.
The train was about a kilometre in length with three dining cars, carriages for passengers' vehicles, platinum section, several carriages for those in gold and more for the red sections .. those who sat the whole journey .. mostly young backpackers. Our cabin was small but had its own small bathroom and was several carriages away from the lounge, bar and dining cars so we got good exercise walking from carriage to carriage. The food was plentiful and wonderful.
Once we'd left the city and suburbia, the view was farmland and then the outback and the red soil. Like the Nullabor, the vegetation was ever changing .. there was the occasional dry creek and river as well as the occasional hill. We saw some cattle and a few brumbies (wild horses) but not a kangaroo or emu.
Thursday we pulled into Alice Springs and took a bus tour around the area .. to the Pioneer Women's Hall of Fame which showed how women helped shaped the outback and a visit to the Royal Flying Doctor base. Then we were taken to Anzac Hill which has their cenotaph and also 360 degree views over Alice. Next stop was the old telegraphstation .. Alice began life as a telegraph station www.alicesprings.nt.gov.au/alice-springs/history
We were taken then back to the train as it was due to leave Alice Springs at 6.30pm. Then came the announcement - there had been a freight derailment a few kilometres north of Tennant Creek and we weren't able to leave. The Ghan staff were waiting on further information as the derailment was in a remote area and not much information was getting out. So began the waiting.
News came through that a road had had to be built to get officials and equipment to the derailment site and it was found that during/because of/the cause of the crash, a wheel had come off the freight train and rolled 10 kilometres, breaking every cement sleeper in its path! The poor staff were busy trying to find a way to get passengers to Darwin. Of course, this is the Queen's birthday long weekend so Alice was full of people coming in for the big Finke River Desert race.
Passengers' cars were taken off the train for them to drive the 1300 kilometre or therabouts road trip north to Darwin, coaches took the backpackers north and that sorted some of the 240 passengers. Some beds were found in hotels in Alice for tour groups and a few of us stayed on board the Ghan. We'd become quite a chummy crowd by this, making the most of the dilemma and the young staff couldn't have been better .. plus we got to have more delicious Ghan meals.
Finally, the staff were able to get us all on a plane that left yesterday evening and we were given a trip to the Alice Springs Desert Park to fill in the day. It is a wonderfully presented park of the flowers and plants that grow in the desert and has aviaries of the many beautiful birds and many little animals (bilbys, quolls, etc) and lizards, snakes etc... Great displays.
We were then bussed to the airport and here we are .. Hooray! In Darwin and 29 or 30 degrees. We are planning a half day Darwin tour and hopefully a full day at Kakadu to make up for that which we missed. No photos as I don't know how to do it with an iPad .. I'll wait till we're back in Adelaide.
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