- Mail on Sunday Travel’s Qin Xie took a rail holiday in Australia
- She travelled through the Outback on The Ghan as a solo rider
- The locomotive is named after the Afghan cameleers who used to roam the area
There is something irresistibly romantic about a rail holiday. It’s not just the nostalgic glamour long associated with these slow journeys – it’s the sense of adventure that comes with disembarking and exploring at each stop.
And, as I discover while travelling through the Outback on The Ghan, it’s not just an experience reserved for the Old World.
The locomotive, named after the Afghan cameleers who used to cross this remote region of Australia, is one of the most popular ways to travel between the Northern Territory and Adelaide.
Mail on Sunday Travel’s Qin Xie took a rail holiday in Australia and travelled through the Outback on The Ghan as a solo rider
I’m booked into one of the 258 Gold cabins. There’s just about enough room for me to get in with my things and, aside from a banquette-cum-bed, it looks a little sparse.
But it takes no time at all to discover the compact but well organised bathroom, where a shower, toilet and a secret towel rack slots into what appears at first to be a cupboard.
Qin said the food on board the The Ghan was delicious and her favourite dishes included crocodile boudin blanc, buffalo massaman and peach tarte tatin
Within minutes of boarding, I’m sipping a cup of Earl Grey from a porcelain cup while upbeat jazz floats from the radio.
On the seasonal Ghan Expedition service from Darwin to Adelaide, which takes four days, passengers have the opportunity to hop off and enjoy excursions in harder-to-reach spots such as Alice Springs and Coober Pedy.
If you’re feeling flush, you can also book one of the optional day-trips to Uluru on a light aircraft.
Qin was booked into one of the 258 Gold cabins
You need a strong stomach for the bumpy ride but it’s the best view of Australia’s most famous landmark you could hope for.
In some respects, the Expedition service is just an overland cruise – the ticket includes a choice of excursions, as well as all meals and drinks – only it’s much friendlier.
Instead of having dinner within your own group, you’re constantly thrust into the company of the other passengers, where scrolling through your phone is definitely frowned upon.
It helps to be an adventurous conversationalist because you may find yourself talking about everything from backpacking through South America to the current economic climate in New Zealand. Perfect if you, like me, are travelling alone.
One really surprising thing is how good the food is, especially considering the size of the kitchen.
The choice of dishes at each meal will easily rival a Michelin-starred restaurant, all while showcasing regional ingredients. The crocodile boudin blanc, buffalo massaman and peach tarte tatin are among my favourites.
The Ghan Expedition is now so popular that it operates for six months a year. I’m not surprised. It’s a trip of a lifetime and yet I can’t wait to go back.
Austravel (austravel.com) offers a nine-day trip to Australia from £2,799pp.
This includes return flights from Heathrow with Malaysia Airlines, three nights at the Adina Apartment Hotel in Darwin, three nights on the Ghan Expedition from Darwin to Adelaide (including all meals, drinks and selected off-rail experiences) and three nights at the Crowne Plaza, Adelaide.
For more information on The Ghan Expedition visit greatsouthernrail.com.au.
Courtesy: Daily Mail Online