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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Alice Springs Part 1...

After Marla, the Ghan headed for Alice Springs. We arrived early afternoon. We took a few photos as the train travelled from the outskirts of the town towards the station.

At the station, the tour buses were all ready and waiting. There were a number of choices for tours and we had chosen the Alice Springs Explorer.

The bus first dropped us in the 'Tourist Triangle' part of town where there were 3 attractions.
This rather imposing statue caught our is a statue of John McDouall Stuart, a famous explorer of this region. Stuart was the first explorer to travel through the centre of Australia from south to north...mostly desert country too, so it was quite an achievement. All the men in his expeditions survived too.  
Just a little extra trivia here...Adelaide businessmen, John and James Chambers helped fund McDouall Stuart's expeditions. James Chambers was a direct ancestor of my mother in law from my first marriage; great grandparent I think. Stuart 'repaid' Chambers by named land features after Chambers' family members, for example, Katherine, William River ( after a son), Chambers Hill and Chambers Creek to name a few.

DH and I decided to check out the National Pioneer Women's Hall of Fame first.

It was housed in an old prison which had closed in 1996. This museum was the brainchild of Molly Clark who had been inspired by a visit to the Longreach Stockman's Hall of Fame.
Molly Clark

Molly felt that there should be a museum that showcased women's contributions to Australia. (Way to go, Molly!) With Molly as the driving force, the museum opened in 1994 in the old Courthouse in the town; then moved to its present home in 2007.

Oh how I loved this museum...sadly we didn't have much time, but DH and I gave it our best shot to see as much as possible.

Great displays!

I loved this cot, which was enclosed in by insect screen mesh...and it had a beautiful cot quilt made with 'cathedral window' blocks.

Boards showcasing women who were leaders/pioneers in their field.

A spectacular signature quilt!

A beautiful tapestry honouring aviatrixes...
Realising we were running out of time, DH and I very reluctantly left this museum and headed to the next museum...but that's another post!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Travelling along on the Ghan...

As we travelled north, the scenery began to change. It seemed like every hour brought some change. The following photos show some of those different vistas as we travelled along in South Australia.

It was also fun when this long train went around a large curve in the line.

This did look like salt but it could be just white sand of course.

On the Monday morning the train pulled into a siding at Marla at 3 am...which is well into the desert country of South Australia. We had set our iPad alarm to 5 am so we could do the off train experience of seeing the sunrise at Marla. DH and I dressed warmly as it was expected to be a bit chilly when the time came (5.30am) to leave the train. And what a 'wonderland' greeted us. 

Train staff had been up and at work for quite a while obviously, as lanterns were set up to light the way to the picnic tables. There were a couple of camp fires and tables set up with coffee, tea and juice.
I was so impressed that the mugs were china, not paper or plastic!

And staff moved around with platters of food...fruit, scrolls, bacon and egg sliders/muffins...all absolutely delicious!

And how wonderful to see the sun come up...and then to see the beauty of the red desert. I'll let the photos 'speak'...

Before we got back on the train, DH used my phone to make a little video to show the length (1.2 km) of the train...I've fiddled around a bit to find a way to share the video in this post. Eventually, somehow, I have created a link to my Instagram account where I had already posted the video. The link is via the highlighted 'Marla' at the very end of the post.

Monday, April 24, 2017

The Ghan; The train

Thank you for all those lovely comments and well wishes on my previous blog post. Last night (Sunday), DH and I arrived home from Darwin after a lovely holiday. I thought that I would write about the train in which we travelled over 2900 kilometres right through the centre of Australia, from south (Adelaide) to north (Darwin).
The train is run by a private company (Great Southern Rail), and everything about their operation, impressed me. From when I got out of the car at the station and DH unloaded the luggage on to the footpath beside me, and then went to park the car, GSR staff were there to help. A staff member loaded the luggage on to a trolley and insisted on wheeling it into the station for me...

The luggage was checked in and I was invited to sit down and have a drink while DH was parking the car...I thought the occasion called for some 'bubbly' but when DH arrived, he preferred coffee.
There was entertainment too!

Time went quickly and it wasn't long before we got our boarding call. This Ghan was 1200 metres long and was broken into two parts, on two different platforms, for boarding. Then when all passengers were on board ( as well as the vehicles on the car carriers) , the train parts were joined up and off we set at 12.15 pm. Each carriage had a staff member in charge and this staff member visited every cabin to talk to passengers. We had a late lunch sitting at 2.15, but time went quickly. We had to walk through 3 carriages to get to the lounge car and then the next car was the dining car.
( there were 100 passengers from Gold Class using the same dining facilities as DH and I. The other 200 passengers had other facilities)
The restaurant manager liked passengers to wait in the lounge car where she would come and personally take them through to the restaurant car.
The meals were wonderful! The menu reflected local produce too but there were lots of choices really.
Here are some photos of our cabin...daytime...
We had our own bathroom; it was small but it was so wonderful not having to share!
Then while we were at dinner, a little 'magic' happened! Well it was magical to me whose long distance train travel had always been 'sitting up all the way', no sleeper for the young Maria when I did that sort of travel!
We enjoyed looking out the window watching the scenery flash past. DH also caught up on some reading and I found time to knit...of course!

We had 3 off train experiences/excursions which I found to be rather wonderful, but I'll write about them in other posts.
(DH and I travelled Gold class and all our food, drinks, and quite a few excursion choices were included in our fare. Platinum Class has larger cabins and a double bed whereas we had bunks and of course food, drinks and a selection of off train excursions are included in their fare.There is a Red Class which has just seating and the food,beverages and excursions are not included.
The walk to the dining car could be challenging for some, but a narrow wheelchair is available in each carriage and room service can be organised if necessary. If booking early enough, a cabin in a carriage closer to the dining car could be organised too I'm sure.There are cabins designed for those with mobility/disability issues. )