History of The Ghan Railway

The Ghan is a famous Australian rail journey that operates between Adelaide, Alice Springs and Darwin. Spanning 2,979km, the journey takes 48 hours to complete and is a legendary rail service that has been operating since 1878. Originally known as the Afghan Express, The Ghan takes its name from the 19th century Afghan camel drivers who arrived in Australia and helped to explore the country's remote interior.

Although construction on the line began in 1878, it wasn't until 1926 that development in Alice Springs began meaning up until it was completed in 1929, the remaining leg of the journey was made by camel. Although plans to extend the line all the way to Darwin were in place, the Ghan was not making any profit and plans were put on hold. It wasn't until 2004 that the line was finally extended northwards to Darwin.

The early railway line often experienced delays and washouts, causing the first flatcar behind the tender to always carry tools and spare sleepers so that passengers and crew could repair the line and allow the train to continue on its journey. Although the service wasn't good, passengers tolerated it because the route was the only one with water available to power the steam trains. However as the service expanded during WWII, the limited water supplies were under great pressure so de-mineralisation towers to use bore water were built, with some surviving to this day. As diesel replaced steam, the need for water diminished and the line was re-routed to a more reliable route between Tarcoola and Alice Springs.

The Ghan is now a popular tourist attraction with international visitors and Australian's alike, with many people counting it as one of their must see wonders in their lifetime. Still operational, The Ghan is popular way to travel the continent of Australia between popular holiday destinations such as Adelaide and the Top End and allows passengers to see the amazing changing Australian landscape in the comfort of modern rail travel.