The Jewish Chronicle - - LIFE -

For a mo­ment, I fear I’ve had too much bub­bly. But a fel­low pas­sen­ger sees the beast too — there’s a camel in the Aus­tralian Out­back. We’re en­joy­ing canapés and cham­pagne on one of the great­est rail jour­neys in the world, so ad­mit­tedly, we’re a lit­tle dis­tracted. But if I’d paid more at­ten­tion to our lo­co­mo­tive’s name, I prob­a­bly wouldn’t have been so sur­prised by the drom­e­dary in the desert.

Our train, the Ghan, which is tak­ing us right through the heart of Australia, was named af­ter the Afghan camel drivers who helped open up this re­mote con­ti­nent. The epic 3,000 kilo­me­tre jour­ney runs from Dar­win in the north to Ade­laide in the south.

In the 1800s, they car­ried sleep­ers and supplies for work­ers build­ing the rail­way. But when the orig­i­nal line,

THE Ghan Ex­pe­di­tion Trip costs from around £1,560 (AU$2509) for a sin­gle Gold Cabin, £1,735 per per­son (AU$2789) for a twin Gold Cabin. Trips run from May to Oc­to­ber. www.great­south­ern­rail.

The Flight Cen­tre of­fers re­turn flights from Heathrow into Dar­win and out of Ade­laide, with Malaysia Air­lines, from £879 per per­son if booked by April 30. www. flight­cen­ Travers­ing Australia in style

from Ade­laide to Alice Springs, was com­pleted in 1929, the men were out of a job, and set their an­i­mals free in the desert. It led to around a mil­lion wild camels in Australia.

As for the rail­way, it was re­built and re-routed sev­eral times. But it wasn’t un­til 2004 that it was ex­tended right across the con­ti­nent, al­low­ing peo­ple to travel all the way from the North­ern Ter­ri­tory to South­ern Australia.

The jour­ney typ­i­cally takes three days. But now there’s a four-day Ghan Ex­pe­di­tion Trip, in which the train stops for var­i­ous ex­cur­sions en route; I was lucky enough to be one of the first to try it.

We leave the steamy heat and lush veg­e­ta­tion of trop­i­cal Dar­win, and are soon rolling through dense for­est, to­wards Kather­ine, 300 km south.

Our first stop is Nit­miluk Na­tional Park, the tra­di­tional land of the Ja­woyn peo­ple. There’s a choice of ex­cur­sions (all in­cluded in the price) plus a cou­ple of op­tional up­grades.

While fel­low pas­sen­gers go for a cruise along the Kather­ine River, a small group of us take a scenic flight over the area’s sand­stone gorges.

We soar over an arid land­scape, sliced by the glit­ter­ing river. The Ja­woyn be­lieve it was formed when a cave bat killed Na­bilil, a crocodile, and in so do­ing, pierced the wa­ter bag he was car­ry­ing with his spear. I spot plenty of wa­ter­falls, spilling over the splin­tered rock­face; there’s even the odd crocodile and wa­ter buf­falo.

Our pi­lot re­veals that some­where in the 300,000 hectares be­low, 40,000-year-old pet­ro­glyphs have been dis­cov­ered in a cave. Ap­par­ently Oprah has seen them and he hasn’t.

“I’m a ranger here! How can they not

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