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Published: July 14th 2019
I have to admit I'm a little excited to be going on the Ghan this morning. Our Hotel was a transfer location for the Ghan as the train station is 10kms out of town. There was a Great Southern Railway employee waiting in the hotel lobby. She asked for ID and checked our luggage in. We were allocated room 7 in carriage K. The train was 24 carriages long with 2 locomotives, 125 guests with 27 crew to look after us. Weighing 1210.2 tonnes.
We had our photo taken at the front of the train then headed towards the rear of the train to board. In our room were a number of goodies along with a journey companion on the small table. We only just fitted into our small cabin bags. Our room had a tiny closet with a small safe and bathroom. After selecting our off train adventures and preferred diner times with the restaurant manager and before leaving the room to check out the train I went to the bathroom, where I discovered you shouldn't move your arms around too much or you'll accidentally turned the shower on and soaked yourself like I did ..... I'm never going
to live this one down..... and it never happened again.
With dry clothes on I headed to the lounge car. There were a few people already in the car so I didn't feel out of place getting a glass of bubbly at 10am. Everyone was excited to be on the move. I started taking to a couple of ladies from New Zealand named Anne and Sue. I'd noticed them on the hop on hop off bus the day before for their eccentric headwear. The four of us went into the dinning car for brunch. We were laughing so much it was like we'd know each other for years.
Our first off train experience was in Katherine. Mum and I had chosen to do the Katherine Gorge Cruise. Where we would get to see and cruise on 2 of the 13 gorges. The sheer walls to the gorges where breathtaking and full of colour. We saw a couple of locals lounging around in the sun.
Once back on board the Ghan we gravitated towards the lounge again where Danni already had a drink waiting for us. Anne and I set the standard early onboard and were the last
to leave the lounge area that night .... long after last drinks was called.
Thankfully I wasn't too dusty the next morning and woke early to watch the sunrise with mum after a morning coffee was delivered to us as arranged. Theres something very relaxing about the movement of the train and I could have sat there all day watching but it was time to tackle the shower again 😬
After a late breakfast with Anne and Sue ... I needed a break (a.k.a nap) before we arrived in Alice Springs. We opted for the Alice Springs Desert Park experience. Once on board our bus we were given a quick tour along downtown Alice and a stop at ANZAC HILL. It wasn't hard to spot the Ghan from the lookout. After a lovely lunch we headed out to the Desert Park. We were greeted at the front gate by our guide that lead us through the park and special seating at the flying birds show. One of the best I've seen.
Back on the train I had time for a quick drink and catch up with the usual suspects in the lounge car before we were being
whisked off to the Telegraph Station for a fabulous dinner. As I was trying to work out how I was going to steal the Ghan microfibre poncho on my chair and get away with it, they announced they were ours to keep as gifts because it's their 90th year.
Somehow mum and I ended up on a table where everyone was from NSW. In an attempt to get the quiet one on the table to talk I discovered he was a Signaller from Homebush ...the conversation stopped once he asked what I did 😉
When the band started up after a funny star talk it was time to dance off all the food. There was a good mix dancing and signing along to some classics. No surprise we were on the last bus back to the train and straight to the bar. Last drinks were called as we had an early start in Coober Pedy. Anne and I were the last in the lounge again, not feeling like going to bed we decided to explore the train and see if we could check out the platinum section. We made it all the way through the train and was
able to check out the gold single rooms, with there shared bathrooms.. which was huge compared to ours. The platinum class restaurant and lounge car was in the middle of the train. I got to check out the kitchen for the front gold class section. We didn't think it would be wise to knock on a door for a platinum class cabin to see if we could check out there room ... especially since it was 23:30. After helping ourselves to some of the platinum class cookies (chocolate) we started to head back and nearly got away with it till we ran into the Night Manager - Oops 🙊
I woke with a start as our much needed coffee arrived this morning. I didn't see the sunrise with mum as I tried to get some more sleep before tackling the shower. After another amazing breakfast with Sue and Anne it wasn't long till the train was pulling into Manguri siding. We appeared to be in the middle of nowhere. There was a platform or cattle ramp. We were 47kms from Coober Pedy. There was a slight delay as one of the excursion buses broke down on the gravel road.
Mum and I were on the breakaways tour. We had a guide meet us at the breakaways to tell us the stories associated with the area. There was two lookouts that showcased the Breakaways. At the second lookout we were supplied morning tea. I was surprised to see bubbles were an option and after looking out over the breakaways it was only fitting I toasted them .... before you think 'what a lush' I wasn't the only one ... just the first.
Driving through town we were headed out to our lunch location. I was slightly concerned as I didn't see any buildings. The bus drove us to an opening for the Opal Quest Mine where we were greeted and lead down a path into the huge working mine. We watched a talk on explosives used in the mining business and explored a few of the shafts before being lead to our dinning location. When we arrived there was a few other busses parked, I'm guessing all the Ghan tours have there own rooms in the mine for lunch. We also got another gift we could keep. A hard hat with The Ghan logo on it .... unfortunately I
don't think they'll let me wear it to work.
Once again I've eaten way too much, thankfully we were on the move again and heading back into town to see the Umoona Opal Mine and Museum. After a look around and a quick shop we were headed back out to the Ghan. Our bus driver took us to the offside of the train so we could get some photos of the train without everyone in them ... being the buff I am I took a few.
There was drinks and canapés beside the train to watch the sun go down before we were due to depart the siding. It was a lovely location around the fires discussing what we'd done that day. Dinner tonight included a birthday celebration for one of the lounge regulars and the staff looked after him with a birthday cake. As it was our last night Danni keep the bar open late for us.
After a really late night I was ready to kill the person that delivered our coffee this morning, especially when I went to drink it and discovered it was tea. Yes you've guessed it I'm feeling very rusty. I
managed a shower and headed to brunch with the girls. It was sad as we'd be arriving in Adelaide soon and our fantastic journey was coming to an end.
We all gathered in the lounge for last drinks and said our goodbyes. I chuckled when our driver pulled up the train and had a required 30 minutes break ... we also had to wait for the Indian Pacific to leave the platform before we could come in.
Mum and I thoroughly enjoyed the journey upon the Ghan and have discussed doing the Indian Pacific or the new Queensland to Adelaide journey
Next Stop - Adelaide and Kangaroo Island.
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