Before bedding down last night I reviewed the very slight directional alterations that had taken place and decided, correctly, that any technical navigational malfunctions that could impact on travel time should always be factored in to my cross country driving. Therefore I programmed my body clock to ensure I would be on the move no later than 0500 hrs the next day, just to be on the safe side.
After a quick mug of steaming hot coffee accompanied by toast with marmalade jam( nothing like a bit of trivia early on in the piece) the Landcover was packed and ready to roll spot on 0500hrs. Oil and water checked of course, tyre pressures readjusted further down to 15psi ( pounds pressure per square inch) and I was off, just before sun rise.
I made the early start as I was determined to get to The old Ghan Railway line before sundown to prepare for the final part of my drive into Alice Springs in the Northern Territory.
A bit of the Ghan’s history though before Part Three of this odyssey really starts.
The Old Ghan railway line as it’s known was begun in Port Augusta in South Australia in 1876. It was narrow gauge, 1067mm or 3 foot 6 inches in imperial measurement. It ran through South Australia’s arid outback and ended in Alice Springs in the Territory.
The line was always suffering sand storms that covered the line or occasional floods that washed away the line. A fledged waggon was always coupled immediately before the steam engine and carried spare rails, sleepers and fettler’s tools. When the need arose, both passengers and crew worked side by side to repair the line and the trip was always an adventure for travellers.
It had the name The Ghan in recognition of the cameleers and their camels, brought to Australia from Afghanistan to enable the carriage of goods from the south of the country to the settlers living in isolation in the centre.
By 1980, a new rail line connecting Adelaide with Darwin was completed and the Ghan line was no longer required. Over successive years the track was pulled up, the rails and sleepers disposed of and a dedicated group of volunteers maintained some of the old railway stations and theirs outbuildings.
It’s possible to travel along the old railway line by four wheel drive and relive what it must have been like to do the trip by steam train.