An End To Isolation
Work began on the Great Northern Railway in 1878 to link Port Augusta with Darwin and open-up central Australia. The southern section of the line reached Alice Springs in 1929, and the train running this line became known as "The Ghan", named after the Afghan camel drivers who had contributed to the developement of communication and transport links in inland Australia.
After the Old Ghan ceased running, it was replaced by the "Legendary Ghan" in 1980, and now travels to Alice Springs on a standard gauge railway line from Adelaide via Tarcoola, west of the old track, and can be seen from the Old Ghan Heritage Railway complex as it speeds into Alice Springs. The final link to Darwin was completed in 2001.
The Old Ghan Heritage Railway Today
The original narrow gauge (3ft 6ins) railway is closed, and the most of the original track has been removed. The avenue leading into MacDonnell Siding is named after Norris G Bell, a Scotsman in charge of construction of the Trans-Australian Railway, later to become the Commonwealth Railways first Commissioner. The Old Ghan Heritage Railway is located at MacDonnell Siding, 10km south of Alice Springs, where there is a 1930s-style railway station built from the plans originally intended for Stuart (Alice Springs). The display area includes the station, museum, souvenir shop, tea rooms and restored locomotives and carriages.
Carriages Used Or On Display At Old Ghan
- Rumbalara - first class narrow gauge (3ft 6ins)
- Dining Car - built 1940, the second of two built for The Ghan
- Maree - converted workman's accommodation unit. Used at Maree as a carpenter's workshop for 15 years
- Flat Top Units - a variety
- First Class Sleeping Car
- Second Class Sleeping Car
- Dining Car with original galley
- Ex-Transcontinental Cars - converted to narrow gauge in 1955 for use on The Ghan
The Old Ghan Tea Rooms
Open between 9am and 4pm for breakfast, morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea - every day except Good Friday, Christmas Day and New Years Day. Conferences and functions - nothing too big or too small.