Darwin to Adelaide by The Ghan September 2019 - Day 11
The Ghan Day 2 - Alice Springs
After a good night's sleep (the track was in much better condition than the one east out of Perth) we were woken by the train staff bringing us a cup of... coffee (despite us asking for tea). Then a quick shower in a remarkably small space and on to breakfast. Before long we were heading into Alice Springs for a day in the red centre. The day was finished off with dinner under the stars before we boarded the train and continued our cruise south.
The Ghan offers several day tours in Alice Springs as there is a lot to do in this rural outpost. One of us chose the historic sights of the Flying Doctor Service etc and the other the rural trekking option that culminated in a walk to Simpson's Gap. As with the descriptions of the Katherine Gorge excursions, the strenuous nature of the Simpson's Gap option was grossly over-hyped. It talked of steep hills and rough tracks and the need to wear stout walking shoes. In reality you could have walked the lot in jandals/thongs/flipflops (but watch out for snakes).
A walk in the hills
The Simpson's Gap tour started with a visit to a replanting/conservation project close to town, then a walk through the hills (Cassia Walk), and finally a visit to Simpson's Gap, a narrow cut through the West MacDonnell Ranges.
Cassia Hill Walk
Close to Simpsoms Gap is the walk up Cassia Hill. The Ghan billed it as a strenuous walk only to be attempted by fit people, nimble on their feet and with suitable stout walking shoes. In fact the track is a gentle climb, rising about 70 metres up Cassia Hill. The view from the top is spectacular for this part of the world.
From Cassia Hill we drove the short distance to the Simpson's Gap carpark and walked the super-highway into the gap. The drought affecting the area was obvious as many trees were dead and the lake in the gap was a mere puddle.
Dinner under the stars
After returning from Simpson's Gap and a late lunch in Alice, we returned to the train to "freshen up" as they termed it for a dinner under the stars at the Old Telegraph Station. They had clearly organised this dinner before, it ran smoothly, the food and wine was very good and the weather obliged with a wonderful sunset and clear sky.
Returning to the train
At the conclusion of the dinner under the stars, buses shuttled people back to the train. We ended up on the bus driven by a local woman, who thought that as everybody was in a jovial mood some Australian songs would be in order. She played the usual - Waltzing Matilda etc - and then an Australian classic "Home Among the Gunm Trees". To my amazement (I had not heard the song before, letalone with an adoring audience) the two Australian women seated in front of us sprung alive to perform the actions that accompany the lyrics. It was an hilarious end to a good night out.
Last updated: 19/06/2020