We Climb On Board The Ghan Train

Previous page - Stressful day in Darwin Part 2

 

Before we got back to the hotel yesterday afternoon we bought ourselves a wholemeal spinach and Feta roll each from Bakers Delight. This was to be our quick breakfast at the hotel before we left Darwin.

It's now breakfast time and the last thing we feel like eating are our spinach and Feta rolls. All we want is a cuppa. In our own interest we decided we must at least share one roll and save the other for later - maybe for morning tea after we have boarded the train.

 

The Ghan courtesy bus

We were expecting a courtesy Ghan pick up bus out the front of our hotel at 8.15 am. It was almost 8.30 am when the pick-up bus arrived. We wondered why it was late. The reason soon became evident. At each hotel pick-up point the driver had to go in to the hotel and find his passengers. Some passengers were sensible and were waiting out the front for him just as we had been doing. Others seemed to need a personal invitation to come out to the fore court.

At 8.30 am the poor driver was dripping wet from racing back and forth and from lifting luggage into the storage space under the bus. At all times he kept his cool and even provided an entertaining commentary for us as we left town. The oldies on the bus seemed to particularly enjoy his humour and patter. We thought he performed extremely well under trying circumstances. Little did we know his professionalism would be mirrored by every single employee we encountered on our Ghan Tour.

 

Ian standing beside The Ghan Ian standing beside The Ghan

 

 

The Ghan train terminal

The Ghan train terminal is located about 25 kilometres out of town so having the courtesy pick-up bus saved all the passengers a lot of hassle in getting to the station. We couldn't believe the size of The Ghan when we saw it. It was so long. Our luggage was off loaded from the bus and any large pieces of luggage were weighed.

The ghan is named after the Afghan cameleers who featured in Australia's history The train is named after the Afghan cameleers

 

 

The owners of those pieces weighing over 20 kilograms were required to re-pack some the contents into extra bags (supplied by Great Southern Rail). This was a safety issue to prevent back injuries happening to the GSR staff.
The bus then dropped us passengers off at various places along the enormous length of the train so we could each climb on board. The train was too big to fit any platform.

Seating in the Ghan carriage The inside of our carriage

 

Our first reaction when we got into our cabin was one of disappointment. We naively thought that with such a new train there would be relatively new carriages. However our carriage seemed to be at least 30 years old. It was rather dismal and a quick look into the "en suite" in our cabin confirmed we had stepped backwards in time.

Cabin interior on The Ghan The top bunk bed pulls down from above

 

 

There are two cupboards in which to hang clothes, a little mirror, a little compartment for books and brochures to sit and a bigger mirror on the back of the door. Back in its heyday I think this would have been considered quite classy accommodation.

 

 

 

The little en-suite proved adequate The little en-suite was compact
The pull-down toilet and sink above it The pull-down loo and sink above it

The pull down toilet was extremely shallow. We had some laughs when we first attempted to use it. Can you imagine male private bodily parts coming in contact with the bowl of the toilet. Hee hee! After one's business was done the toilet could be "flushed". This process involved pressing a button to get some fresh water in the bowl and then gently and delicately lifting the bowl upwards to the vertical position so the contents would get flushed down the back somewhere. The sink worked on much the same principle. Our kids (Jeremy, 21 and Hayley, 19) would have had a fit if asked to use this bathroom. We will experience the shower later on this evening......

 

Luckily our Ghan train is low on passengers

Our end of the train is quiet. It seems extra carriages came up to Darwin yesterday and these carriages (empty on the return trip) are now headed back down south. We feel privileged to be tucked away in the quiet part of the train. Down our end there are only two partly filled carriages. When getting together for meals in our restaurant car there are a total of about 22 people. The other, busier part of the train has far more people divided up into two very busy meal sittings. We are quite the opposite and we like that.

 

Gold service dining room on the Ghan train

In no time at all it was lunch time. Lunch on the first day was early. It needed to be because most of us were hopping off at Katherine for an early afternoon tour. Whilst we would be touring around, the train would be waiting for us at the platform.

We found the dining car and we were blown away. It was totally exquisite. It was like stepping back into another era but in a positive way. The furnishings were beautiful. The tables were laid with bright white linen and shiny silver cutlery. There were curtains to fit the era and best of all there was decorative pressed metal along the centre of the ceiling. You might wonder why pressed metal in a train carriage would excite us so much. Well we sell pressed metal. That is our business - Heritage Ceilings. Pressed metal panels are ideal for use in train carriages as they bend into lovely curves that suit the ceiling shape of carriages.

Photograph of Philip, Marie and Sally who looked after us all so well. They made our trip very special:

The wonderful staff who made our trip on The ghan so very special


Meals on the Ghan

In the centre of each dining table was a plate with appetizers such as dips, Turkish bread, carrot sticks etc. A couple by the name of Pat and Neville sat at our table. They were nice people from Queensland.

Neville and Pat Friendly passengers Neville and Pat
Pumpkin and Lentil Croquettes served for lunch Pumpkin and Lentil Croquettes



 

 

 

 


 

Our lunch was divine. Ian had: Chicken braised in Coconut and Coriander served with Basmati rice and a salad of Pickled Capsicum and Snow Peas. Jean had: Pumpkin and Lentil Croquette, served with Red Onion Jam, Crisp Greens, Mayonnaise and finished with a drizzle of white Truffle Oil.

Dessert was: Warm Chocolate and Irish Whiskey Pudding served with Creme Anglaise.

The portions weren't huge but when you are sitting down all day you simply cannot eat large meals. All the food was exquisitely presented and tasted perfect. It is really a top class restaurant.

It is now time to hop off the Ghan train. We're in the town of Katherine.

 

Next page - The Ghan stops in Katherine for sightseeing

 

 

 

 

 

 

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