Day 219

Trip Start Sep 14, 2006
Trip End ??? ??, 2007

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Flag of Australia  ,
Monday, April 23, 2007

Today I started the second of the great Australian train journeys - The Ghan. I'll be travelling all the way to Darwin in this journey which is the entire length of the Ghan. I only did the Perth-Adelaide section of the Indian Pacific and will complete the Adelaide-Sydney stretch later.
The Ghan and the Indian Pacific are identical almost - the same carriage set-up at least. They have their own distinctive engines pulling. The Ghan train we are on today is over 800 metres in length with dozens of carriages.
As we boarded I recognised one guy from the earlier Indian Pacific journey. He was from Gibraltar and is doing a gap year after finishing university in England. Further up the platform I introduced myself to three girls from England - Cheltenham and Devon in fact. Haven't met too many folk from the South West so three in one go was nice!
The Ghan takes a little longer than the Perth-Adelaide trip I'd done but spending hours and days on a train doesn't seem like a chore to me. Taking a four hour train in England can feel excruciating - normally it would be precious weekend hours that you're eating into. It's lucky to have the luxury of time and I'm beginning to understand why it's only pensioners and backpackers on board. Everyone else back in the real world is doing this journey at 40,000 feet.
The girls Naomi, Alex and Sarah invited me to play cards and soon I had them all playing Yanif (remember that popular Israeli game I was taught in China?). They were on the wine, cheese and crackers and I was on the lager and nuts - the difference between Cheltenham and Gloucester I guess...
The Ghan is 3000 kms and I elected not to do any more of the whistle stop tours until I hear that they're any good! We stopped in Port Augusta (home of Scroopy from the Indian Pacific) and pressed on to Alice Springs. We were in wilderness for much of the day which was pleasing to Sarah who was disappointed to still be seeing cars and roads up to Port Augusta.
There are fewer passengers than the Indian Pacific so I've got my own two seats. I do prefer the upright sleeping position however. I've seen so many odd contortions that people are attempting to make use of the two seats.
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