The following is a partial extract – To read more:





The outback experience offers a glimpse of the slow-beating heart of Australia from a stopping train. The magnificent. The luxurious. The historic. The Ghan.

Katherine is just the first stop on a memorable, three-night, four-day, 2979-kilometre trip from Darwin to Adelaide, on a 902-metre-long train that, in the course of a year, travels 369,000 kilometres, serves 585,000 meals and – a private interest – 23,000 cans of Coke.

Throughout its trip, the train offers 330 or so guests not just a measure of ingeniously  engineered comfort, good company, cheerful service and fine dining, but a cultural, historical and, in the burning-hot, back blocks of Coober Pedy, an underground experience.

In the first half of the 20th century, there came other adventurers, such as Charles Mountford, in search of another long-lost explorer Ludwig Leichhardt. No luxury for him. He shared the train with “other passengers, goods, livestock motor cars, and a family of four hens”.

It was not until 2001 that The Ghan line was extended by 1420 kilometres to connect Alice Springs to Darwin, the guide explains as we rejoin the train to resume  our trip south.

That night, our first on board, we dine on such local delicacies as scallops, crocodile sausage, smoked duck and grilled barramundi, washed down by a wide choice of top, predominantly Australian wines.

Night two, The Ghan guests dine under the stars and the spreading gum trees at a truly historic location: the old Alice Springs Telegraph Station which, appropriately for passengers on the modern train, was used to relay messages between Darwin and Adelaide

Waiters and waitresses, dressed in checkered black and white shirts, serve guests sitting at dazzling, wedding-white tables, from a menu including poached chicken and saffron shallots, followed by Thousand Guineas tenderloin and the chef’s selection of pavlova and chocolate brownies.

The atmosphere is laid-back. Some guests are happy to sit around chatting to new-found friends. Some go, aptly, for a camel ride. Some inspect the old telegraph station and its fascinating museum pieces.  Others dance away the night to the music of a local country singer or, best of all, enjoy the trip through the starry, starry skies by a local astronomer. It is a wonderful, memorable night.