Celebratory journey through the red heart
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