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Published: June 25th 2017
Geo: -12.4623, 130.846
No need for the hurry up this morning, it was full steam ahead to the foyer ready for the pickup for the train ride. The 20 minute bus ride took us out through the suburbs to Berrimah to be greeted by 38 carriages of The Ghan stretching along the platform for 980 metres. Yep, that was nearly 1 km of train! And we thought we had hit the jackpot when we we were given carriage A, only to find it was at the end of the train. The hike, in the heat, carrying the luggage was almost a marathon. But every staff member smiled and greeted us at every doorway and assured us it would be worth it.
And it truly was.
Cabin A5/6 was a suite complete with a a 3/4 bed, a bathroom (well cubicle..but we didn't have to share) table and chairs and a fridge stocked with cold beverages. Mac wasted no time in dropping the luggage and popping the champers' cork. We settled in and waited for the call to lunch!
We were the envy of all passer's by because the suite is the exception rather than the rule. The other cabins are a single bench seat that
converts to a bed for sleeping so we did get a few visitors stop by to have a look at how the other half lived.
We left on the dot of 10 am toasting ourselves and our good fortune and our room. The Ghan, with 275 passengers was on its way. We had a personal visit from our in-cabin steward who got us sorted with all the details and booked us in for an excursion and a dinner slot.
There is a predictable rhythm to a train journey: eat, drink, talk and take off-train excursions. So we knew what to expect and were comfortable in Cabin A5/6 sipping champers, taking in the view and enjoying some fresh fruit ... in the champers
Meal times pair you up in the dining car with other guests which makes for interesting and sometimes colourful exchanges. Our first meal guests were Judy and Gary - rev heads and off road car fanatics from Mt Gambier. You can imagine that we had sooooo much in common. Well, not really, but it was a fun exchange. They had lived in Darwin some 40 years ago and it was fascinating to hear the stories of the changes they had noted.
What did we eat? Well, it was truly delicious, with a starter plate that included crocodile, buffalo, kangaroo and barramundi washed down with a buffalo curry. Was a great lunch, with good company, and true to form, we were last to leave!
Our off-train excursion in Katherine was something a little different for us. We tried the Katherine Outback Experience which was a visit to a station which specialises in breaking-in horses which will be used on musters on cattle stations and training cattle dogs. Our host, Tom Curtain, is also a country and western singer so we were treated to some music interspersed with his work with the horses and the dogs. We did enjoy his laconic presentation working with the horses, his easy humour and repartee with the audience and the fun he had with the dogs. Got to get up close and personal with the horses, the mule, the buffalo, the angus and the dogs and washed it down with country hospitality, Anzac biscuits, damper and honey and a good lashing of outback flies.
We were only 6 kms out of Katherine so it s a quick trip back to the train and a wrestle with the shower. You
could sit on the toilet and shower at the same time if you wanted to. But we tried to keep it sane and dutifully pulled the curtain to try and keep the water in the designated area (with mixed success.)
The 8 pm dinner had us paired up with the Kiwi mother and daughter team and they were a hoot. Hard to believe the mum was 82 but she continues to drive and travel the world. Hope we have that energy and spring in our step! A bit of croc sausage, some more barra, some greens, washed down with a couple of glasses of sav and lashings of desert and we were done by 10 pm.
The toss and turn, top and tail sleeping arrangements were a stretch of anyone's sanity but after the predictable commentary and associated laughter we were somehow set and let The Ghan rock us to sleep.
Tot: 1.399s; Tpl: 0.055s; cc: 11; qc: 52; dbt: 0.0381s; 1; m:saturn w:www (188.8.131.52); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.4mb