Cel­e­bra­tory jour­ney through the red heart

The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - Escape - - GET ONBOARD -

Af­ter 10 years, The Ghan has plenty of rea­sons to make its birth­day run a truly spe­cial one, writes David May

A DECADE ago thou­sands of spec­ta­tors lined Ade­laide’s Keswick Rail Ter­mi­nal to wit­ness the ful­fil­ment of a dream that had been adrift for 146 years.

In 1858 Mel­bourne busi­ness­man, J. Robert­son, sug­gested a north-south rail­way be built across the con­ti­nent from Ade­laide to Dar­win.

Af­ter more than a cen­tury of prepa­ra­tion, plan­ning and prom­ises, The Ghan – with two pow­er­ful red diesel lo­co­mo­tives and 43 sil­ver car­riages – de­parted Ade­laide on Fe­bru­ary 1, 2004 on the in­au­gu­ral 2979km rail ser­vice across the Red Cen­tre to Dar­win, launch­ing a new era in Aus­tralian train travel.

Named af­ter Afghan camel trains, the orig­i­nal 19th cen­tury out­back freighters, The Ghan has been rum­bling up and down Aus­tralia for 10 years. And to cel­e­brate its an­niver­sary, next Sun­day it will re­live its in­au­gu­ral tri­umph with a jour­ney from Ade­laide and a pro­gram of spe­cial events, off-train tours and live per­for­mances.

The orig­i­nal Ghan first linked Ade­laide to Alice Springs in 1929. In 2001 con­struc­tion be­gan on a 1420km, $1.2 bil­lion line from Alice to Dar­win, con­nect­ing the two cities two years later and cre­at­ing one of the world’s great lux­ury train jour­neys over 2979km.

The fas­ci­na­tion with this skinny be­he­moth starts at Keswick sta­tion. And when it leaves, the train twists through Ade­laide’s north­ern sub­urbs like a red-headed sil­ver snake as

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