When Katie Horn received a surprise email from us that she’d won our Grand Launch Prize, she knew exactly what she’d do with it. Gift it to her parents for a bucket list experience aboard the Ghan. Her parents Andrew and Anthea report back from their holiday of a lifetime.
Andrew and I wish to thank you, The Great Australian Bucket List competition and Great Southern Rail for making the holiday of a lifetime a reality for us. We recently enjoyed the experience of a train trip on the Ghan from Darwin to Adelaide.
Our accommodation in Darwin was provided by the Oaks group of hotels, and the room provided a stunning night time vista. We had time to do a tour in the afternoon and take in the sights of this beautiful city.
Firstly we wish to mention the outstanding service provided by the staff on the Ghan, they could not do enough to make our trip more memorable, they were warm, friendly and we felt we got to know them through the conversations we had with them over the 3 days and 2 nights of our journey. There were 283 guests on board, 39 carriages, 802 metres of train and all were provided with first class hospitality which made our holiday relaxing and enjoyable. At times the train travelled around long sweeping curves and it was exciting to see the carriages in front and behind as we moved through rolling countryside.
I must also compliment the clever chefs on board for the variety on the menus, we were able to sample buffalo, emu, crocodile and kangaroo dishes. The meals provided were sumptuous, they were an adequate size and were beautifully presented. It was a pleasure to be shown to a different table each night in the Queen Adelaide dining car to enjoy a superb dinner with great conversation and lovely wines. The deserts were absolutely amazing and enjoyed by all.
We found the variety of excursions to have something for everyone and we chose two cruises up the Katherine Gorge which was lots of fun with the local indigenous rangers providing us with colourful stories. We were lucky enough to see a crocodile on the water’s edge before he slid into the murky depths, to be followed by a pungent fishy odour which denoted his presence. As it was a very warm day we appreciated the thoughtfulness of the staff to provide us with cold water and fruit on our cruise.
We also enjoyed a tour of Alice Springs, the Memorial Hill and monuments to past wars, the Old Telegraph Station where the ranger was so passionate and knowledgeable about the facility and the early pioneers who had lived and worked on the station. The highlight for us was a visit to the School of the Air where we were able to watch first hand a lesson between the teacher and students on outlying stations. What a privilege to visit such an iconic educational facility.
Perhaps the highlight on last evening was a bonfire at Manguri station. It was noted that staff had prepared for our arrival as lanterns had been placed all along the railway line to assist guests to disembark and find their way to the bonfire in the distance. Staff had set up a table with nightcaps and chocolates and we were treated to a warm night, under the stars enjoying the company of other guests. The area around the bonfire was well set up with tables and chairs which added to the comfort and ambience of the evening. We climbed back on board and continued on our journey southwards and arrival in Adelaide the next day.
We wish to thank everyone responsible for making the trip available to us. We highly recommend a trip on the Ghan, if you are thinking of taking one, just do it, and you will make wonderful memories to take with you. We met folk from all walks of life, from all over Australia, England and the States.
Click here to tick The Ghan off your own Great Australian Bucket List. Special thanks to Great Southern Rail, Oaks Hotels, Affirm Press, and everyone who entered. Sign up to automatically be entered into future Great Australian Bucket List contests, including the next exciting one, courtesy Skydive Australia.