The Ghan Train: First Time Rider Guide

The Ghan Train is one of the most amazing scenic train rides in Australia. Think of it as a rolling piece of history, offering an immersive experience through the heart of the continent. In this post I’m going to be showing you exactly what to expect on this ride.

Basic info:

  • Name: Ghan Train
  • Location: Stations at Adelaide and Darwin
  • Ticket prices: $1,000-$5,000+ AUD per person
  • Duration: 2-3 days
  • Reviews: 4.8 out of 5

Quick info:

The Ghan isn’t just a train, it’s the epitome of Australian adventure, connecting distant regions with style and grace. It presents a unique opportunity to witness the remote beauty of Australia’s interior.

But why do people opt for The Ghan when faster travel options exist? Simply put, it’s the experience. It’s about more than landscapes; it’s about luxuriating in a slower pace, drinking in every view, and savoring every moment of the journey.

The route:

As you set out from the town of Darwin, your first significant stop might be Katherine, where you can explore the Nitmiluk Gorge. Then, moving into the continent’s core, you’ll whisk by Alice Springs, the quintessential Outback town. Here, passengers often disembark to marvel at the stark beauty of the surrounding desert landscapes, like the imposing Kings Canyon.

Crossing the Red Centre, The Ghan gives its passengers front-row seats to some of Australia’s most precious ecological and cultural landmarks. With exclusive excursions, travelers have the chance to get up close with the legendary Uluru and learn about its profound significance to indigenous cultures.

As the journey continues towards South Australia, keep your camera ready for the Flinders Ranges, an ancient mountain range rising abruptly from the earth. And finally, as The Ghan rolls into Adelaide, you transition from the unyielding Outback to the verdant and vineyard-filled landscapes of this cosmopolitan coastal city. It’s a contrast that tells the story of Australia’s geographic diversity and is part of what makes this trip so enchanting.

Ticket pricing:

While this is one of the most expensive scenic train rides in the world, it’s still worth going if you’re into this (and can afford it of course). You can choose from Gold Service, Platinum Service, and Red Service, each offering various levels of comfort and amenities:

  • Gold Service is the popular middle ground with sleeper cabins and meals included ($6,000+ AUD)
  • Platinum Service provides a more luxurious experience with extra space and upscale dining ($5,500+ AUD)
  • Red Service, often more budget-friendly, offers recliner seats and access to a cafe car ($1,000+ AUD).

Don’t worry too much about the initial sticker shock. Deals and discounts often pop up, especially during off-peak seasons. I also suggest looking into package deals that might include accommodations and tours at key stops. Booking well in advance usually nets you a better price, and if you’re flexible with your dates, you can always adjust your approach down the road to take advantage of last-minute deals.

Best times to go:

Because Australia is vast, and its seasons are distinct in the various regions that The Ghan travels through. In general, the period from January to May offers cooler temperatures and is considered peak season. This is when the Australian Outback becomes less severe, allowing for a more comfortable exploration during off-train excursions.

Don’t worry too much about the crowds, though. Despite being high season, The Ghan’s unique experience affords everyone a personal sense of adventure and space. And if you’re looking for an even more unique twist, keep an eye out for special events. The Ghan offers themed journeys, such as astronomy trips where you can gaze at the Southern Hemisphere stars in unbeatable clarity, free from light pollution.

Now, if you’re not tied to school holidays or the busiest travel months, consider traveling in the shoulder seasons which are April or September. You’re likely to enjoy a little more tranquility, and the transitional weather offers a different perspective of the landscape.

Every journey offers its own unique set of memories and sights. In my opinion, as long as the train is rolling, the magic of The Ghan is alive. I really hope that you find your perfect time to board this iconic train and carve out your own unforgettable adventure through the heart of Australia. While it is quite expensive, if you’re into scenic train rides this is one you have to consider taking in my personal opinion!



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