The Journey Beyond Rail journey starts in Darwin, but for Mark and Alexa, it begins in Adelaide.
Although the Ghan passes within about 200 metres of their house as it heads North out of Adelaide, they will board the Ghan after travelling over 2,500km to Darwin. From there, they will travel 3,000km to get home again.
Mark and Alexa have been to all the towns along the train journey, most of their memories are of Alice Springs that they will have the most memories about as they lived there in the mid-80's.
It was a time when Halley's Comet swung by for one of its infrequent visits, and after dashing around various locations to view the comet, Mark and Alexa found that their back veranda provided the most comfortable and best viewing.
It has been about 35 years since Alexa has been to "The Alice" while Mark had travelled regularly to Alice Springs until about a decade ago.
In time they were living there, they saw the Stuart Highway sealed from Adelaide to Alice Springs. Ultimately they travelled it from Adelaide to Darwin. They even saw the Todd River flow a few times, back before the all-weather bridges were built.
Mark also saw the construction of the Alice Springs to Darwin railway in the time that he often travelled back to Alice Springs for work. Going to and from work each day, he would travel over the railway line north of town. During the construction phase of the bridge, the wrong tar was placed on the bridge and it melted in the summer heat, sticking to the tyres and the cars when the tar was thrown up by the speeding cars.
Use the "Ghan 2021" drop down menu above to find out more about this trip.
The Ghan Expedition starts in Darwin and the trip to Adelaide takes what Journey Beyond Raildescribes as a "four day, three night" journey. In reality, it is actually two whole days and two half-days, since the train departs Darwin at 10am on a Wednesday and arrives in Adelaide around 10am on the Saturday.
At between $3,000 and $4,000 per person in a gold cabin ($5,900 to $6,200 in Platinum), this is not an inexpensive trip, but once you get on The Ghan, you need not reach for your credit card, unless you want to enhance your journey with one of the optional day tours.
Although all of the food and drinks are included in the price, the range of drinks is, naturally, limited because of the space that would be required to stock a huge selection. For example, common spirits and liquors are available, but less common spirits like Ouzo and liquors like Amaretto probably won't be available.
When the brochure recommends only taking an overnight bag each for the trip, this should be taken as a directive as there is no room in the Gold cabins, at least, to fit even one full size suitcase and they will end up in the baggage carriage where you can't get at them for the duration of the trip.
In the Gold cabins, the seat doubles as one of the bunk beds and the other bunk drops down above that bunk. The staff reconfigure the cabins in the morning to provide seating and in the evening to provide the beds.
Be prepared to come back from dinner and the lounge cabin in the evening and into bed shortly after. Tall passengers will find that they will hit their head sitting on the lower bunk when the upper bunk is down.
It is said that a trip on The Ghan is a "trip of a lifetime" which can either mean that it was terrible and you would never to it again, or it was a great trip that ticked off an item, on the "bucket list". For all but the pickiest people, it is sure to be the latter.