15 December 2014
Globetrotter and cancer survivor Greig Trout is travelling the world, ticking off must-do travel experiences for his blog, ‘101 Things To Do When You Survive’. Here are excerpts from his recent review on The Ghan:
Thing #72 - Ride The Ghan in Australia
My earliest memory of being on a train was when my mum and I visited my Uncle Crawford. I must have been about 6 or 7 years old. I don't remember much before I was ill but I distinctly remember the train pulling away and my Uncle Crawford crying as he waved us off.
The only thing I know about trains is that I love being on them. I love everything about it. The sound as it chugs along, the motion as it glides over the rails and being able to lose myself in the scenery as it flies by.
I first heard about The Ghan when I decided to go on this trip. I always wanted to do one of the epic train journeys. Most people have heard of the Trans-Siberian Express but not many people outside of Oz would have heard of The Ghan. I was one of them. I discovered it whilst reading a 'bucket list', a term I tend to not use anymore.
My Ghan experience started in Darwin. Myself and the other Gold and Platinum guests were picked up in the centre of Darwin by Kelsey, one of the Ghan's carriage staff who explained the history of the Ghan and her love for her job. A great way to start the journey. When we arrived at the train we were first taken to see the iconic front carriage before being taken to our own carriages which was a really nice touch. Brendan was my carriage host and showed me to my cosy little room which had huge window which put a big smile on my face.
We set off and after an hour of scenery watching and getting myself sorted out I headed to the lounge and quickly made new friends before having a mighty three course lunch.
A couple of hours later we stopped in Katherine and were given a range of Off Train Excursions to choose from. I decided on the Nitmiluk Gorge tour and after a short bus ride we jumped off and straight on our cruise down Katherine River which was absolutely stunning. We then got off the boat for a tour of some original Aboriginal cave art with some being 8000 years old! Just amazing!
We then cruised back down the river, hopped on the bus and headed back to the train. I sat in my carriage watching the most beautiful sunset over the Australian bush as the train pulled away from the station. For the next 45 minutes I watched the colours of the Outback change as the light slowly disappeared.
A quick shower and I was off to meet my new friends in the bar for a pre-dinner drink. Another amazing three course meal in which I tried Kangaroo for the very first time. I absolutely loved it but it was the Belgian chocolate melt that was by far the highlight.
I arrived back at my cabin to find my bed all made up and a chocolate on my pillow, probably the last thing I needed after a three course meal but I thought it rude not to eat it anyway!
I got ready for bed, opened up my blinds, turned off the light and stared at the millions of stars shining down on me. With the slight swaying and chugging of the train I was then rocked into a deep peaceful sleep.
When I awoke the light was just reappearing so I jumped out of bed and found myself a window on the east facing side of the train and watched the sunrise.
What an amazing sight to fall asleep and wake up to.
Sunsets and sunrises despite all the wonderful things I have done on my list are still my most favourite things in the world.
There were many things I loved about this trip. The last time I travelled on a journey with all the bells and whistles was the Galapagos cruise I did last November. It was amazing. My own cabin, a three course lunch, three course dinner and a hearty breakfast. I felt like Prince William....but with more hair. Believe me this was an absolute novelty for me on this trip and I loved every second of it.
The best thing about my Ghan experience was the sunsets, sunrises and the people I met.
I watched the sunset over the outback listening to Ben Howard (as per usual) lost in a world of happy and grateful thoughts. As ever I couldn't believe I was doing this.
I met some incredible people on this journey. A German girl called Martina who was travelling around Australia on her own. I hope she doesn't mind me telling you this but Martina has multiple sclerosis. She tells me she has good days and bad days but she's determined to keep living her life to the full and not let it affect her. What an amazing woman.
Over breakfast myself and Martina sat with an Australian couple on their 26th wedding anniversary. We got chatting and Katherine and Paul told us about their son Michael who was involved in a mountain bike accident last year. Michael is now paralysed from the abdomen down and the life knew was turned upside down . Michael has been through some very low times since the accident and has felt very lost but has now found a new life through music which is now becoming his career.
Meeting Martina, Katherine and Peter made me appreciate my Ghan experience even more than I did already.
After my final onboard breakfast of eggs florentine and a cup of coffee it was time to say goodbye to The mighty Ghan. I only wished I could have travelled all the way to Adelaide. An amazing adventure and a trip I'm so happy I didn't wait too long to do. Definitely one for your 'survivors' and 'now' list.