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On Walkabout On: The Ghan Train Through the South Australian Outback – Part 14

My wife and I had an absolutely great time touring the Northern Territory. The differences between the Red Center and the Top End really make the NT feel like two completely different countries. The Red Center is well, very red along with being dry and remote. However, within the dry, remoteness of the Red Center there is so much life. Not in the way of people because there are very few people who live in the Red Center, but in the way of wildlife. Just the amount of kangaroos, camels, eagles, and other animals, along with the various plant species you see surviving in remoteness of the Red Center is truly impressive. Oh yeah, Ayers Rock (Uluru) was cool too! The Top End felt more touristy then the Red Center, which is saying quite a bit because Alice Springs is definitely a touristy town. However, Alice Springs has more of a backpacker feel to it, while Darwin combines both the backpacker and wealthy tourist cultures. It seems like for every backpacker hostel in Darwin there is at least one 5 star hotel to counter balance it. In the Top End the best times my wife and I had were not in the touristy areas, but in areas recommended by locals such as the Arnhem Land tour at Kakadu and Edith Falls in Katherine though I would have done the Jumping Crocodile cruise no matter how many tourists were on that boat. The Jumping Crocodiles are just incredible. But, once again we had an absolutely great time in the Northern Territory and hopefully we will be back one day.

However, to get back to our home in Victoria from Darwin we had nearly 2,000 miles of rail between Darwin and Adelaide to cover and then another 500 miles of driving from Adelaide to Melbourne. The train journey was going to take two full days.  The amount of traveling was definitely getting to us now, but I did get plenty of reading done and saw more of the Australian Outback from the train:


Just south of Alice Springs we also got a good view of Chambers Pillar:


The white pillar has long served as a navigational land mark and was named Chamber’s Pillar after the Adelaide man who had helped fund Stuart’s expeditions across Australia, which ultimately led to him being the first person to travel from the south to the north of Australia and back in 1862. His expedition led to the successful completion of the overland telegraph a few years later. To reward his chief financier, Stuart named many things after Chambers, and one of them was Chamber’s Pillar.

Here is another well known landmark to anyone who has ridden the Ghan before, the Iron Man:


The Iron Man located to the south of Alice Springs was constructed in honor of the railworkers who laid the track that made the Ghan possible. The statue is is holding the one millionth railroad tie laid down during the Ghan line construction.

Past the Iron Man was more of the deep red Australian Outback:


The terrain stayed like this until the train came within three hours of Adelaide where the terrain slowly changed to lush farm fields. Overall it was two solids days of travel to reach Adelaide and we arrived at around 10:00AM in the morning. However, we had to wait for nearly two hours before our bags were found and we could load them up in my Jeep.

So that meant we left Adelaide at around noon and then had to drive the 9 hours to Melbourne. After two days on a train the 9 hour drive to Melbourne really wasn’t to bad. However, we did learn another thing from this drive, whatever you do don’t eat at Australian roadhouses. We bought a quick dinner at a roadhouse while I was there gassing up and the food was barely edible. Just disgusting and this wasn’t the first time, but I promised after that time it would be the last time I ate roadhouse food.

I hope everyone enjoyed my Northern Territory Holiday Journal. I plan on doing more postings in the future of the interesting things I saw during my time in Australia. If you ever have any questions about touring around Australia feel free to leave a comment and I will make sure to answer promptly.  Thanks for reading.

Click to go to Northern Territory Holiday Journal Archive


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