One of the world’s great rail journeys, Australia’s Ghan Expedition, from Darwin to Adelaide is much more than an extended train trip. Running through the heart of the country for some 1,861 miles, it allows you to see Australia unadorned. You’ll access remote and inhospitable areas such as the Red Centre and cross the Outback in serious style, with impeccable service, all-inclusive fine dining and excursions led by top guides. You’ll also begin with a luxurious, all-inclusive safari among the wildlife and wilderness of the Top End before ending by tasting your way through the world-class wines of the Barossa Valley.
You'll enjoy included airport lounge access before your flight to Australia’s Top End.
Following your flight, we’ve arranged a private driver to whisk you to your luxurious accommodation, the Adina Apartment Hotel in the heart of Darwin. The city is Australia’s only tropical capital and the luxuriant vegetation, typified by the white-flowered frangipanis, will contrast powerfully with the arid landscapes you’ll explore later. Freshen up in your comfortable apartment and then explore the city sights on your doorstep, taking in the waterfront lagoon, Asian-inspired markets, galleries full of indigenous art and array of outdoor cafés and bars.
The city is also gateway to a region of incredible natural beauty rich in Aboriginal heritage and culture, where scenic hikes bring you to rocky escarpments that look out across ancient forests, plunging cliffs, dramatic waterfalls and watering holes perfect for lazy days spent swimming under the Australian sunshine. Speak to our specialists about the best day trips to explore Darwin's rugged surrounds.
Stay: Adina Apartment Hotel
Start the next stage of your adventure with a 4WD road trip transfer out into the floodplains of Bamurru. Here, amidst a wild and empty landscape, stand the rustic-chic safari lodges of your luxury accommodation. And, you’ll embrace the back-to-nature vibe with a full range of included excursions. Immerse yourself in the wilderness on a guided bushwalk and explore in greater depth on a quad-bike journey or 4WD safari, looking out for buffalo, wallabies and a wealth of birdlife. Away from the savannah grasslands and paperbark forests, you’ll also go in search of crocodiles on a river cruise. Then, at the end of the day, return to the lodge in time for a dip in the infinity pool before sundowner cocktails at the open bar.
Here, you’ll swap stories from the bush with fellow guests before enjoying wild dining experiences in front of an open kitchen; expect country-style dishes featuring kangaroo and barramundi. For jaw-dropping sights with no exertion, head out onto the pool deck after dinner to look up at the stars or secure a spot in the lodge’s treetop ‘hide’ to keep an eye on any night-time activity in the bush.
Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner included
After two nights in the wilderness we’ll return you to Darwin on a road trip through the lush wetlands – again with a 4WD transfer. On your return to the city, spend the day exploring the innovative museums celebrating Darwin’s past, the galleries showcasing the rich art scene and the street-side restaurants and bars where chairs and tables spill out onto the pavement.
Stay: Adina Apartment Hotel
Transferring from your hotel to the train station, you’ll catch your first glimpse of The Ghan. As the anticipation builds on the platform, you’ll prepare to board before being shown to your Gold Service cabin. Once settled, explore the train and its elegant wood-panelled carriages, gravitating to your closest lounge car. Watch the incredible vistas of the Outback unfold through the picture windows while you sip a vintage wine or, later, as you dine in the Queen Adelaide Restaurant on delicious seasonal dishes based around local produce. This is dining with a view unlike any other. When the train pauses in Katherine, disembark for an expert-led excursion to Nitmiluk Gorge and discover the beautiful waterfalls and sandstone crags along the way to a remote cattle station.
Here you’ll be introduced to the workers and, at the Stock Yards, watch horse-breaking and cattle dog-herding demonstrations. In between, for a real feel of traditional life in the Australian Outback, you’ll be treated to a musical performance. Then, reflect on the day’s discoveries back on board the train and watch the sun set over the Outback as you eat in a four-seater booth set with starched white linen in the elegant restaurant car.
Pull back the blinds to reveal an Outback sunrise before a generous full breakfast sets you up for the stop in Alice Springs. You’ll have the day to explore this frontier town and we suggest that you soak up the wild landscapes, rich Aboriginal heritage and adventurers’ past. For the ultimate experience, take to the skies for an aerial view of Uluru on a scenic flight that gives you the best perspective on the vastness of the Northern Territory. You’ll finish your pioneering day with a dinner under a canopy of stars, so different to the northern hemisphere.
Tuck into damper bread baked in the ashes of a fire, exceptional steak and award-winning wines as an astronomer points out constellations, planets and galaxies scattered above you. During this time, as usual your cabin will be converted into a cosy sleeping berth with upper and lower bunks.
As the train makes its way into the middle of nowhere, you’ll come to Manguri. Step down onto the station platform amidst the vastness and splendid isolation to be met by a local guide who will lead you to Coober Pedy. This is the sun-scorched opal mining capital of the world where half the residents live underground to escape the searing heat. Marvel at the tunnels and caves and pause at the Umoona Opal Mine for a unique experience – just try to avoid falling victim to opal fever.
Below the surface you’ll also find a Serbian Orthodox Church that compounds the surreal set up and you’ll even eat a gourmet lunch in an ethereally lit passage. Back above ground, re-board the train and relax in your private cabin or catch up with fellow passengers in the Outback Explorer Lounge as it makes its way through the surreal landscape of the Breakaways, where flat-topped mesas stand in a stony desert.
You’ll be greeted in the morning by the ochre tones of the desert giving way to the green fields of South Australia, with the train bowling across the Adelaide Plains and arriving into Adelaide. Stepping down at journey’s end you’ll be collected by a private driver and brought to the historic Adelaide Treasury, a magnificent heritage property centrally located in the city’s vibrant CBD that’s been converted into a stylish apartment hotel.
Spend time tapping into the rich creative soul of the city, graze your way through the famous Central Market, sample creative tapas at a cosy wine bar or let yourself get lost among the lanes and alleys. Here, you’ll quickly stumble on chic restaurants, hip bars and lively entertainment venues. Back at the hotel, the snug is a good place for a final evening drink.
Stay: Adina Apartment Hotel Adelaide Treasury
After the urban delights of Adelaide, we’ll pile on the gourmet treats with a self-drive journey to the Barossa Valley. Here, among the rolling vineyards that are home to more than 100 world-renowned winemakers, you’ll settle into The Louise – a chic boutique base with outstanding facilities and a seriously good restaurant. Wine tasting is a Barossa must, so give in and grab a glass. Avoid the biggest names that you can catch at home, such as Jacob’s Creek, and instead seek out local cellar doors, set out on a vineyard safari or let us arrange exclusive tastings by appointment.
There’s a heady selection of local wines available at The Louise’s elegant bar as well, ideal for pre-dinner drinks, taken on the terrace as the sun sets over the rows of vines. Make sure you’re still hungry for dinner at the award-winning Appellation restaurant, with the menu based around a ‘locavore’ philosophy; more than three quarters of the seasonal produce is sourced from with a 50-km radius. We suggest you opt for four courses from the ever-changing tasting menu, with brilliantly paired Barossa wines, of course. It’s a pure Epicurean delight.
Leaving the Barossa's vineyards behind, you'll make the return drive to Adelaide, pausing along the way at a renowned farmers’ market to sample some regional specialities. Finally, you’ll complete your adventure with a final night at Adina Apartment Hotel Adelaide Treasury, from which you can explore South Australia’s elegant and cultured capital.
Multicultural flavours infuse the restaurants and there’s a lively arts and music scene to uncover. Or hop on the tram and trundle out to the white-sand beaches of Glenelg for a wonderfully sun-kissed end to your Australian adventure.
Stay: Adina Apartment Hotel Adelaide Treasury
Conclude your holiday by returning the hire car at the airport and dusting the desert sand from your boots as you prepare to board an overnight flight back to the UK.
"This journey takes you through some of the most stunning – and wild – scenery in the world. Unlike trans-Siberian and Mongolian rail journeys, the scenery here changes daily, with isolated cattle stations, underground towns, iconic sights and spectacular mountain ranges all vying to be called your favourite part of the journey. So too does the service aboard The Ghan – excellent in every way. Travelling Australia on a luxury rail journey is one of the most rewarding ways to experience the country."
Low Season from: £8,865 pp
High Season from: £9,615 pp