95 Iconic Years

Australia's legendary rail journey - The Ghan

Originally dubbed the Afghan Express, The Ghan train was named for the pioneering cameleers who blazed a permanent trail into the Red Centre of Australia more than 150 years ago; the original Ghan line following the route of explorer John MacDouall Stuart.

On August 4 1929, an excited crowd gathered at the Adelaide Railway Station to farewell The Ghan for the first time. It carries more than 100 passengers and supplies bound for the remote town of Stuart, later to be called Alice Springs. Two days later, the historic journey was complete.

The train was steam hauled, and the service had to contend with extreme conditions including flash flooding and intense heat. As such, it was often irregular. Legend has it The Old Ghan was once stranded for two weeks in one spot and the engine driver shot wild goats to feed his passengers.

The track we use today replaces the ‘Old Ghan’ railway that travelled via Quorn and across some of the most flood-prone regions of central Australia. The Pichi Richi Railway still operates a tourist train called The Afghan Express on the original path of the Old Ghan.

It was always intended for The Ghan to travel from Adelaide through to the Northern Territory city of Darwin. It just took a lot longer for the last section of rail to be completed. In 2004, the Alice Springs to Darwin railway line was finally finished, with The Ghan embarking on its first journey all the way to Darwin on 1 February, 2004.

This year marks 95 years of The Ghan. Today, The Ghan delivers so much more than an extended train ride. It promises access to parts of Australia no other holiday can come close to – the perfect balance of comfort and adventure culminating in an experience that will move you in every sense of the word.

Learn more about the history of The Ghan here.


WORDS: Ella Chronowski